Having a baby changes everything. And while most moms and dads report that parenthood is the most rewarding job in the world, it’s also the hardest.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Arizona Department of Child Safety shares tips to help parents stay calm with their children, even when their stress levels hit the ceiling.
When it comes to raising a baby, the physical and emotional demands are out of this world. Parents must learn to balance their usual household and work responsibilities with middle-of-the-night feedings, colic, endless piles of laundry, and extra expenses. The learning curve is steep and the stress and frustration can be hard to bear.
Unfortunately, this stress can take its toll. When exhausted and frustrated parents hold a crying baby, they run the risk of becoming too harsh trying to calm him down. This can cause Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a completely preventable but very common condition that affects up to 3,000 children in the United States each year.
It is important to note that many parents who shake their babies do not fit the stereotype of child abuse. They have no history of violence and never intended to harm their children. In these cases, SBS is the result of uncontrolled stress, which compromises the parents’ ability to think clearly and stay calm.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, “Babies, from birth to 1 year old, are most at risk of injury from shaking. Shaking them forcefully can trigger a ‘whiplash’ effect that can lead to internal injuries, including bleeding in the brain or in the eyes.Often there are no obvious external physical signs, such as bruising or bleeding, to indicate an injury.
Unfortunately, 80% of infants who experience SBS suffer permanent damage and up to 25% do not survive.
All in all, parents only want the best for their kids – and that means staying calm and giving their kids the best, even in the midst of significant stress.
What can you do when you feel your temperature rising? Here are three tips:
10 minute conversation: Pick up the phone and call someone to help you calm down. In fact, keep a list of three or more people you can call when your stress levels rise. Often a 10 minute conversation with a calm, loving friend or family member can make all the difference to you and your baby.
10 foot rule: When you need a break, put your baby in a safe place and give yourself some distance. Ten feet is far enough for you to calm down, but close enough to keep your baby in your line of sight. Use this time to focus on your breathing, think calm thoughts, or use other meditative techniques that will help reduce your stress levels and restore peace and control.
10-minute break: If you need alone time, put your baby on his back in an empty crib, then close the door and check in on him in 10 minutes. Take a short break and focus on something else knowing your baby is safe. Just make sure there are no loose blankets or stuffed animals in the crib.
Stress is a part of parenting, as are feelings of exhaustion, exhaustion, and even hopelessness. Use these simple tips to stay cool and calm and keep your little one safe. For additional assistance, visit dcs.az.gov/take10.