In addition to supervising children, taking proper safety precautions can help reduce the risk of accidents, injuries and safety incidents with children in your care. These precautions include understanding that crying in infants is normal behavior and there are dangerous ramifications of violently shaking a baby or hitting a baby’s head.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Abusive head trauma (AHT), which includes shaken baby syndrome, is a preventable and severe form of physical child abuse that results in an injury to the brain of an infant or child. AHT is most common in children under age five, with children under one year of age at most risk. It is caused by violent shaking or blunt impact.
Many parents and caregivers become angry or frustrated when they are unable to soothe a crying baby. When this anger or frustration becomes overwhelming, they may shake the baby in their care. Shaking a baby can have deadly consequences. According to the National Institutes of Health, in as little as five seconds, brain damage can occur as a result of the baby’s brain bouncing back and forth against the skull. Other injuries can include spinal injuries, seizures and blindness. Death may also occur. Parents and nannies who are familiar with effective soothing techniques can avoid the frustrations that lead up to shaking a baby.
Effective soothing techniques include offering a pacifier, swaddling, swaying while holding the baby, holding the baby in the side position and making a rhythmic “shh” sound while walking the baby around. When holding a baby, always support the baby’s head and neck and if you are unable to soothe a baby and are becoming frustrated, put the baby in her crib, take a few minutes to calm down and ask for help if you need it by calling the child’s parents or a trusted neighbor.
Nannies may benefit from taking a class from a Certified Happiest Baby on the Block Educator or becoming a Certified Happiest Baby on the Block Educator themselves. The Happiest Baby on the Block program is a national training program that teaches parents and caregivers how to effectively and quickly calm crying babies using Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5S’s which include swaddling, the side/stomach holding position, shushing, swinging and sucking to trigger a baby’s calming reflex.