Never Shake a Baby

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Call the DFS Child Protective Services Hotline/Helpline at

703-324-7400 • TTY 703-222-9452


Prevent Child Abuse Virginia at

"I didn’t know shaking a baby could hurt!"

It is true. Jerking or violently shaking a baby is equal to dropping a baby head-first onto a hard surface from a height of 10 feet. It could cause permanent brain damage, blindness or, in some cases, even death.

Why babies cry. All healthy babies cry. Babies cry when they are tired, hungry, uncomfortable or sick. Babies also cry when they are bored, over-stimulated or lonely.

What you can do. It is important to respond quickly when a baby cries. If your baby cries and is not wet, hungry, or running a fever, try these ways to comfort:

  • Hold your baby close to your body, on your shoulder, or supported in your arms. (Remember to support the baby’s head and back.)
  • Gently stroke your baby’s back, arms, legs, and feet using long strokes.
  • Wrap your baby securely in a blanket, leaving his head and hands free.
  • Lay your baby in his crib, on his back, to allow baby to calm himself. Make sure you are within sight and sound of your baby.

Watch your baby’s response. Some infants do not respond well to holding, stroking or being securely wrapped in a blanket. If your baby does not respond well, then try these additional ways to comfort:

  • Sing or talk to your baby in a quiet, soothing voice.
  • Try to interest your baby with a rattle or toy.
  • Turn on some soothing (soft) music.

If your baby continues to cry, talk to your family doctor or pediatrician. There may be a medical condition that may be causing your baby to cry.

Develop a support system.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends and relatives for help.
  • Take a parenting class.
  • Join a parent support group.

For more information from the Virginia Department of Social Services on Shaken Baby Syndrome visit their web page and download their brochure in English or Spanish.

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Fairfax County Department of Family Services
[ 12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035 ]
[ 703-324-7500 ]

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