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Her Baby Died Because He Cried

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A 20-year-old mother was charged in the death of her 3-month-old baby. Could this tragedy have been prevented?

Brittiany Nabors

Formal first-degree murder charges were filed this week against Brittiany Nabors, 20, in the death of her baby. Nabors confessed that on Aug. 19, she was frustrated with the crying of 3-month-old Ja'Kori Nabors, her son. Investigators said she shook him and then "threw him down on the extended footrest of the couch."

Nabors said that when she threw her baby down, he struck metal bars along the footrest. And she says that was not the first time she had shaken the child. He later died as a result of his injuries.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome estimates as many as 1,400 babies annually are injured or killed by shaking, CNN reports.

According to the center, 70% to 79% of people convicted of killing or hurting babies are men. The average age of the perpetrators is 24, and 82% are either the parent of the victim or the live-in boyfriend of the mother.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, activities involving an infant or a child such as tossing them in the air, bouncing them on the knee, placing them in an infant swing, or jogging with them in a backpack do not cause the brain, bone, and eye injuries characteristic of shaken baby syndrome.

Violently shaking an infant for just a few seconds can cause:

• Brain injury leading to paralysis
• Mild to severe cognitive impairment
• Cerebral palsy
• Blindness
• Broken bones

How can such a tragedy be prevented?

Dealing with a crying baby can be beyond frustrating, especially if an infant has colic. Here are ways you can deal, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.

  • Keep your perspective. You're not failing your baby or being lazy if you can't stop a crying spell. Sometimes babies simply need to cry.
  • Slow down. Take a deep breath and count to 10. Repeat a calm word or phrase, such as, "Take it easy."
  • Use your imagination. Take your mind off the crying by picturing yourself in a calm, relaxing place. Play soothing music in the background.
  • Take a break. If you're alone, put your baby in a safe place, such as the crib or bassinet. Let your baby cry while you take a few minutes to regroup in another room.
  • Ask for help. Let your spouse or another loved one take over for a while. Take advantage of babysitting offers from friends, neighbors, or other close contacts.
  • Express your emotions. When you're getting frustrated, speak up. Saying the words out loud -- either to yourself or to an understanding friend or loved one -- can help ease the tension.
  • Take a walk. Put your baby in the stroller and take a brisk walk. The exertion may take your mind off the tears. If it's too cold for an outdoor stroll, walk laps in a local shopping mall or other indoor spot. You might even buckle the baby into his or her car seat and take a short drive.
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps. Sleep deprivation may only make it harder to cope with a crying baby.
  • Recognize your limits. If you're worried about your ability to cope with a crying baby, contact your doctor, a local crisis intervention service, or a mental health help line for support. Post a crisis number on the refrigerator or in another visible spot.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mic September 17, 2009, 9:48 AM

What a shame. So many young girls have babies way too young. I was 26 with my 1st & it was the hardest thing ever! I had my husband, was not struggling financially, etc, & I remember sitting on my stairs crying, even going out to the garage & sitting in my car to get away from the crying b/c I didn’t want to hurt him. Unless you have been thru the frustration, sleep deprivation, etc you do not understand. That is why it is so important to wait to have children until you are a mature adult. It’s difficult for adults, why, oh why do these young girls think it is so easy to have, & raise a baby? This is why our world is getting worse, & worse. Too many unqualified people having kids. Doesn’t make your life easier, & sure as hell doesn’t keep the man. When are these kids going to figure it out?

Ruber Ducky  September 17, 2009, 10:18 AM

While I most certainly don’t condone any actions like this, I must say that I can understand why a young, naive person would get themselves into this situation. By today’s standards, I guess I’d be considered at young mom at 24, considering that most women don’t have children until their 30s; I have been in the situation of a crying baby and it can be extremely frustrating, but these women need to pay attention to the pamplets and videos given to them during their hospital stay! I seriously think that some sort of testing should be done on young mothers to test their competency before they deliver a child and take it home with no supervision! It is extremely sad that this keeps (and will keep) happening over and over! Please young mothers, if you are not ready for a child, adoption is the best thing for you and your baby!

Briellis September 17, 2009, 10:45 AM

I’m not sure it’s just youth working against them. I’m considered a very young mother at 22. I’m married, I went to college, and we’re financially stable. The Pill failed and we decided to keep the baby. I’m so happy we did, she is the highlight of my days.
I think it’s a combination of impulse control and a lack of support that leads people to hurt their babies. On a few occasions, I have handed my daughter to my husband and said “Your turn, I have to get out of here” and took 15 to go read the news or take a shower to calm down. But if you don’t have that option and you lack the resources to help you, bad things are inevitable. (I don’t condone her actions, I think she is a unfit mother, this is just my two cents).

Anonymous September 17, 2009, 10:55 AM

Being a good mother is not based on your age!!! I found out I was 15 weeks pregnant the day before I graduated high school. I was 17!!! My pill had failed, but I knew I had a huge responsibility on the way. I am a nursing student, work full time, and most importantly I am a mommy and a wife!! This woman is an unfit mother; there is no other way to explain it!!! However child abuse can be in a young mother or an older mother.

Miranda September 17, 2009, 11:56 AM

I definitely understand where Anonymous is coming from. I’m a mom at 21(Pill AND condoms failed - long story), and when the little guy was first born people acted as if it was inevitable that something bad was going to happen to me or him, whether it be shaken baby syndrome, drug addiction, or whatever. I am married and have health insurance, an education, a car, and a home in a nice community. I find it slightly offensive when people assume that women who are young are automatically uneducated and negligent.

whitnyek September 17, 2009, 12:33 PM

I agree with anonymous above. I think it simply depends on the person..I got pregnant with my daughter at age 21 by choice..and at 23 am currently expecting my second..and find it offensive that just becuase I’m 23 people automatically assume I’m no qaulified to be a parent..I love my daughter more then life itself and would never physically harm her no matter how frustrated..This woman was simply an unfit mother..and probly has other underlying issues.

Mic September 17, 2009, 3:07 PM

i know not all young parents will kill their children. I know not all parents that kill are young. I do believe a very good amount of teens that get pregnant do it for the stupidest reasons. And the babies & society are the ones who suffer.

ame i. September 17, 2009, 4:20 PM

I was 29 when my first daughter was born, 31 when my second daughter was born. I got frustrated sometimes, felt like I was going to loose my mind.
Luckily, I had my parents nearby to help. My late-husband helped some, but he sure didn’t lose a minute of sleep when our daughters woke during the night.
The best advice ever given to me was by a friend’s mom. She is about 10 years older than my parents, 4 kids, 2 being twins: Sometimes, you just gotta put that baby down. It made so much sense! Feed baby; make sure baby has fresh diaper; make sure baby is not uncomfortable or ill; place baby in crib.
It turned out that I was making things worse with my first daughter by not putting her down. I remember the first time I put her in her bed, walked away, set a timer for 5 minutes. She was asleep before the timer went off.

Ruber Ducky  September 18, 2009, 6:32 AM

I don’t think it’s just young mothers that do this, but the majority or cases you hear are from young unfit mothers who couldn’t handle the stress of dealing with an infant! I just wish that more girls realized they had more options than keeping the baby or aborting it, I can however, see how it is so glamorized to get pregnant these days, so I do understand why it happens as often as it does. I do think that young mothers should be evaluated before leaving a child that young in their care, because you are responsible for a baby’s well being and life all together!

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 9:42 AM

Nice information. Nice reading. There is one opinion to give about t-shirts.

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