What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a condition that occurs when a baby is shaken violently. Shaking is a potentially fatal form of child abuse. If a baby is shaken with force, it can lead to a lifetime of problems:

  • Shaking can damage a child’s brain.
  • Shaking can cause permanent disabilities like blindness or paralysis.
  • Shaking can even cause death.

Never, never shake a baby! Shaking can damage your baby’s brain and may cause death. No child, at any age, should be shaken.

When babies cry, you may want to cry too… This is normal!

Being a parent or caregiver is not easy. A baby’s constant crying can be stressful and can be a dangerous trigger for you. Sometimes there is no reason for the baby crying, and there is nothing you can do.

A baby crying is normal

Here’s what you should know about crying babies:

  • Most babies cry often: 80 to 90% of babies have crying spells lasting 20 to 60 minutes or longer. This does not mean that your baby has colic.
  • Most babies cry more at night, sometimes for an hour or longer.
  • Most babies have at least one fussy period each day, often in the evening.
  • Most babies cry more at six to eight weeks than at birth.
  • Most parents or caregivers will feel angry, frustrated and will cry themselves.

Sometimes it is okay to put the baby in the crib and let the baby cry for a short time to give yourself a break. Try to call someone for help during these stressful times.

Why Do Babies Cry?

Crying is an important way that your baby communicates to you before he or she can speak. Figuring out crying can be difficult. Here are some suggestions.
Possible ReasonWhat to Do
Information source: Toronto Public Health
HungerFeed baby. Baby may be hungrier on some days. Offer the breast often if that helps to soothe baby.
Need to be close to people, touched, picked up, held or rockedHold, rock, massage, dance with baby in your arms, sit together on bouncing ball or rocking chair, talk and sing to baby. Take of shirt and hold baby skin to your skin. Take bath with baby. Go for walk with baby in your arms in sling or in stroller. Lie down beside baby while you nurse, massage, gently touch or talk to baby. Let someone else hold baby.
Pain or discomfortPick up baby, comfort, change diaper, burp or rub baby's back. Changing baby's position may help.
Too hot or too coldBabies should be dressed warmly as you are, plus one more layer. Baby should not be cool to the touch.
Tired or over stimulatedSwaddle baby with a light blanket, turn lights off, keep surroundings quiet. Rocking baby gently can be soothing for both of you.
Needs a changeRead, play, talk, sing, hold baby every day. Change rooms so baby can look at different things.
Just unknownHold, rock, talk, walk, sing, bathe baby, swaddle, massage, offer the breast, or try soothing music. Try to comfort the baby, giving time for the baby to respond to each thing you do.
IllnessIf your baby's cry sounds different to you or baby cannot be soothed after trying everything, see your doctor or call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.

The Period of Purple Crying

The Period of Purple Crying is the point in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time.

The Period of Purple Crying begins at about two weeks of age and continues until about three to four months. There are other common characteristics of this phase, or period, which are better described by the acronym “Purple”. All babies go through this Period it is just that during this time some can cry a lot, some far less, but they all do go through it.

Babies can cry for hours at a time when going through this phase and still be perfectly healthy. It can appear as though the baby is experiencing pain or discomfort even though they are not.

This period of increased crying is often described as colic, but there have been many misunderstandings about what “colic” really is. The Period of Purple Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development.

It is confusing and concerning to be told your baby “has colic” because it sounds like it is an illness or a condition that is abnormal. When the baby is given colic medicine it reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with the baby when in fact the baby is going through a very normal developmental phase.

That is why we prefer to refer to this time as the Period of Purple Crying. No, it is not because the baby turns purple when he or she cries but provides a meaningful and memorable way to describe what parents and their babies are going through.

Image of what the letters in Purple stand for.So many parents, after learning about the program, have said, “finally they have called it something that describes what we are going through. This word colic was hard to get a handle on.”

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