How a Knit Hat Might Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
Thanks to some dedicated volunteers, knit hats may just be the latest thing that might help in the fight to prevent shaken baby syndrome.
Unfortunately, shaken baby syndrome is still a leading cause of death for infants in the United States. Shaken baby syndrome deaths are classified as child abuse and within child abuse, they are the #1 cause of death. The cases of shaken baby syndrome are so tragic and difficult to comprehend. For some families, it can happen as a result of lack of education, resources, and support.
Parents who may be uneducated or ill-equipped to deal with an infant who has high needs, for example, combined with little sleep and any other compounding situations, like postpartum depression, are at high risk for shaking a baby. One woman went public with the story of how she shook a baby and looking back, she can see easily how, despite the fact that she did not have a history of being a child abuser, she fell into child abuse. A combination of back-to-back pregnancies, undiagnosed PPD, isolation, and the exhaustion of being overwhelmed and caring for four children led her to shake a baby and almost kill him.
Her story has always stayed with me because, as both a nurse and a mother, I have tried to educate myself on shaken baby syndrome. I can honestly say that although I have never been tempted to shake a baby. However, I have had those very dark moments as a mom when I was so tired and couldn't think straight and felt like I couldn't take one more minute. I didn't have the tools I needed to parent effectively at times and I know how dangerous that could have been.
Raising awareness about shaken baby syndrome is very important for two reasons. 1) It's a commonly misunderstood situation. Some people might think, mistakenly, that they would never shake a baby, but anyone is at risk. 2) The best way to prevent shaken baby syndrome is to educate more people about it.
And one organization in South Bend, Indiana is trying to do just with that, with a common baby item:
Everyone loves a cute baby in a cute hat, right? The Family & Children's Center of South Bend is calling anyone who loves to knit or crochet to help them by donating their skills to make hats for their shaken baby awareness program. The Center started a special program that educates parents-to-be on the importance of being aware of shaken baby syndrome and how to prevent it. (Namely, if you ever even think about shaking a baby, put the baby down, walk out of the room, and call someone for help. It's better to have a baby cry than to shake him or her.) There's just one problem. They are in need of more hats. They need volunteers to knit more hats.
The parents who go through the program receive a special knit hat as a reminder to never shake their baby and it stands as a visual cue to the parents to remember everything they learned. It's a simple thing that can make a huge difference and potentially save a baby's life.
Unfortunately, I do not know how to knit or crochet, despite my attempts to make that mermaid blanket floating all over Pinterest. So this project is not for me. But if you're a mom who loves to knit or crochet, get in touch with the center do donate your time and talents and possibly save a baby's life.
And if you're a new mom or mom-to-be, educate yourself on shaken baby syndrome. Be sure to create your own reminder, whether it's a hat or a special blanket or picture, that will help you stay calm if you ever feel tempted to shake your baby. The best prevention against shaken baby syndrome is to have a plan from the beginning to stop it from happening.