Studies show that frustration with an infant’s colic-associated crying is the most common reason for Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)1. To deal with a screaming baby day after day, for hours on end, can drive new parents or caregivers to reach breaking point, lose control and shake the baby out of sheer frustration and anger. Sadly, this is when permanent head injury and brain damage can occur.
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of head injury. It occurs when a baby is shaken forcibly enough to cause the baby’s brain to rebound and bounce against their skull. This rebounding may cause bruising, swelling, and bleeding of the brain. Which may lead to permanent, severe brain damage, blindness, or even death2. Shaken Baby Syndrome resulting in head injury is the leading cause of death and the most common cause of long-term disability and permanent damage in physically abused infants and children3.
What is colic?
Colic is defined as repeated episodes of excessive and inconsolable crying in a newborn baby who is otherwise perfectly healthy. The condition can affect up to one in three babies. One way to determine if it may be colic-associated crying is to take note if the infant’s crying matches the ‘rule of threes’… When a baby cries excessively for three or more hours a day… Three or more days a week… For three or more weeks, the infant is likely to have colic4.
How are colic and shaken baby syndrome related?
Colic peaks at about six weeks, while the incidence of shaken baby syndrome peaks about one month after that. It’s important to note that it is not colic that causes the shaken baby syndrome, obviously. But rather that a colicky baby is going to cry more, which in turn raises the chances that a parent or caregiver will shake them.
How to cut down the crying
Try these four tips to help soothe a colicky newborn:
- Swaddle your baby.
- Try a white noise machine or a vacuum cleaner placed near the infant.
- Use the colic hold. Use your forearm to support baby’s tummy. Your palm, or, depending which way infant is turned, a slight bend in your arm cradles baby’s head.
- Use Colief® Infant Drops. They are clinically proven to reduce colicky symptoms associated with temporary lactase deficiency6. This is when some babies are temporarily unable to fully break down lactose, a complex sugar that is found in both breast and formula milk. This inability causes wind, bloating and discomfort. The lactase in Colief®Infant Drops is a natural enzyme which breaks down the lactose in the milk by up to 70 percent, aiding digestion and helps reduce the hours of crying.
Calming tips for new parents
If you can’t calm your baby and feel like you are close to closing control:
- Stop what you are doing immediately.
- Put your screaming baby down in a cot, swing, or other safe spot.
- Walk away. To the next room, outside, anywhere that will get you away from the situation until you have regained your composure and are able to comfort your baby.
- Reach out for help. It’s important to take care of yourself, too! Even asking your partner, friend or family member to watch your little one while you walk around the block for a little break can help.
Remember, never minimize colic, it is a very serious condition that can have devastating results.
Radesky JS, Zuckerman B, Silverstein M, et al. Inconsolable infant crying and maternal postpartum depressive symptoms. Pediatrics. 2013;131(6):e1857–e1864.
Barr RG, Trent RB, Cross J. Age-related incidence curve of hospitalized Shaken Baby Syndrome cases. Child Abuse Negl. 2006;30(1):7–16.