In the United States, shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases. Frustrated, angry or sleep-deprived parents often make decisions that can have disastrous consequences for their child.
Georgia Ward saw these consequences firsthand during her years in law enforcement. Now, the longtime Brownwood resident is participating in the CLICK for Babies program, which aims to educate parents about the dangers and symptoms of shaken baby syndrome.
“I was a police officer for 13 years in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Ward said. “We had some baby deaths that they put down as SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] that I would have guaranteed were shaken baby syndrome.
“So this means a lot to me,” she said.
According to program literature, CLICK for babies is “a grassroots campaign that invites knitters … to make purple colored baby caps which will be delivered to families in November in December.” The word “click” is meant to evoke the clicking sound of knitting needles and social media clicks, and the hats are purple to educate parents about the “period of PURPLE crying.”
“Purple” is an acronym that stands for Peak of crying, Unexpected, Resists soothing, Pain-like face, Long lasting and Evening — phrases that remind parents their baby’s behavior is normal and expected. The CLICK for Babies website says the period of PURPLE crying is “a time when your baby will cry more than any other time in their life.”
“Some babies will cry more, some less, but all babies go through this period of increased crying in early infancy,” it says.
Ward said many shaken baby deaths occur during this period. “Shaken baby syndrome, 90 percent of the time has to do with them crying or hungry or something,” she said. “Young parents, especially, tend to get frustrated.”
So far Ward has knitted over 30 purple caps for the CLICK for Babies program. She sent 25 of them to Oklahoma hospitals, where they will be given to newborns’ families as a reminder about the period of PURPLE crying.
She encouraged friends and family to talk to expecting parents about the dangers of shaken baby syndrome. “The main thing is word of mouth,” she said. “If you know someone who’s having a baby, make sure they understand that a baby’s going to cry whether there’s anything wrong with it or not. That’s the only communication they know.
“But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The baby’s not going to cry constantly forever. But there’s no do-over when frustration takes over.”
To get involved, donate or learn more about CLICK for Babies, visit www.CLICKforBabies.com.