Nationally each year, at least 1,400 children less than a year old died from abuse, most often as a reaction to their crying. Another 28,000 are permanently disabled from injuries related to abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome.
A new project in Pittsburgh aims to teach parents tolerance for infant crying and hopefully protect the child.
A Child’s Place at Mercy, the county’s official Child Advocacy Center and part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, has released a 15 minute DVD designed to teach new parents techniques to help soothe a crying infant, increase the quality of parent-child bonding and help deter child abuse.
The director of A Child’s Place, Dr. Mary Carrasco, says incessant crying can make even an experienced parent frustrated and angry......
"Crying is the most frequently cited trigger for abuse that leads to infant death and serious disability. Understanding that a certain percentage of babies cry, no matter what a parent does, can help parents deal with their feelings. The DVD provides parents with suggestions for what to do in those situations.”
Dr. Carrasco says if you "are at the end of your rope, put the child down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes...that's better than hurting the child."
Dr. Carrasco says incessant crying peaks around 6 weeks of age and is usually gone by 4 to 6 months…"so there is hope"…..but she adds that a small percentage of babies cry for no apparent reason.
She says the DVD provides proven techniques to calm a crying baby including common ones such as singing, walking and rocking the baby, and the unconventional, the sound of a vacuum cleaner or even a clothes dryer.
Parents delivering a baby at hospitals in Allegheny County over the next year are eligible for the DVD which was produced by The Fred Rogers Company and funded by the Staunton Farm Foundation with additional support from McAuley Ministries, the Heinz Foundation, and the Highmark Foundation.