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  Shaking baby in anger
 
My baby has very bad colic, and I am hardly getting any sleep. Yesterday I got so exhausted and over the edge that I gave the baby a good shake. Of course he just cried harder after that, and I left him in his cot while I calmed down. Now I am feeling so ashamed and worried. What if I have injured him?

A baby with colic, and sleep deprivation are a very difficult combination to deal with. It is not surprising that you reached the end of your tether. Since you cannot undo what happened, the important thing is to move forward from here, and to make sure that you are never in that situation again.

It may be a good idea to take the baby to the doctor for a check up just to reassure yourself that he is fine. While babies are surprisingly strong and robust in many ways, shaking a baby CAN cause injury. The baby has a very large head in proportion to the rest of the body, and a weak neck. So when the baby is shaken, the brain can move around inside the skull and get bruised and injured. So the moral of the story is: NEVER shake your baby. Once your baby has been checked and all is well, you can take some other steps.

You did well to leave the baby to cry and walk away until you felt calmer. That was a wise move on your part, and exactly what you should have done. Now that you know that you are close to your snapping point, you need to make some changes that will enable you to cope better.

Are you taking a nap when baby does? This is not the time to be heroic, and no matter how tempting it is to think about how much you could achieve while baby is asleep, you need to get enough sleep in order to cope. You may also need to explore some ideas to help baby sleep better at night. Consider finding the money for a night nurse a couple of times a week. Get yourself some help and support. Start accepting offers of help, and learn to ask for help.

In addition it may be worth asking for help with regard to soothing your baby. Probably you have tried every idea you can think of to stop your baby from crying, but perhaps your doctor or local clinic will have some ideas for you. Look at the section on colic on this website. And then remind yourself that you ARE a good parent, and that colic does not last forever (although it may feel like it!) Just take it one step at a time and be kind to yourself.

 
   
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