If you have ever heard the PSA on the radio “never shake a baby” you were probably like me and thought, “Seriously?! Who would shake a baby? They must be terrible people!” And then, I had kids and realized, yep, I’m thinking about it. There’s nothing quite like parenthood that makes you eat your own words.
To be crystal clear, shaking a baby is NEVER an option or a good idea. I am thankful for those PSA’s because the solution they gave, to put the baby in a safe place and walk away until you can gather yourself, gave me an out. And, it normalized that other people have had this same urge before too!
I am not sure what it is but there is this primal switch in our brains that when your baby has been screaming uncontrollably for what seems like eternity, you think shaking them will solve it.
I can remember the first time I felt this primal instinct when my daughter was eight weeks old and would not stop screaming and shaking her felt like a viable option. She woke up at 2am, and I was literally dealt a shit storm. I went to change her diaper and the second I pulled her diaper down, exorcist style poop went everywhere. All over the wall, the changing table, and me. Thankfully, my husband came running because he could hear me and the baby crying as I tried to deal with the shitty situation (pun intended, you’re welcome).
As he cleaned up the room, I fed the baby, and then he took her and got her to sleep. That was one of the nights where I felt that sort of primal response where you just want to unleash holy hell on your kid. If you’re sitting there thinking that you’ve never felt that way toward your sweet child, be honest because yes, yes you have.
Our offspring have this uncanny ability to press our buttons no matter how old they are. Our job as parents is to not blow up on our children no matter how angry we are. I know, I know, easier said than done and you’re going to have moments that make that seem impossible. But, I promise, the more you manage your buttons the better off you and your sweet baby will be.
So, when your baby won’t stop screaming, has covered you in diarrhea, spit up everywhere, and you are at your wits end, just remember, even the doctors, nurses, social workers, and therapists have contemplated shaking their babies too. Set that baby down in their cozy crib, shut the door, and take a few deep breaths. Once you’re calm, grab your baby, snuggle them and figure out what they need.
Or, if you have someone around, like a spouse, hand that sweet screaming baby off. Have a code word. Ours was “I’m thinking about it!” and we would swap out no questions asked. And, this is a great strategy for when your baby turns into an adolescent! Walking away when you’re at your wits end and ready to do something you will regret, demonstrates healthy coping for your kiddo to manage their buttons.
This parenting stuff is hard. You are doing your best and you are the perfect match for your baby. Don’t ever think that you aren’t good enough because you are. The fact is you are human and it takes intentional work to overcome our humanness when raising your own offspring. Keep on keeping on parents, you are doing just fine. And remember; never shake a baby.
***For more information on how to prevent shaken baby syndrome visit: www.calmacryingbaby.com ***