Support for parents to cope with infant crying
“Babies cry, you can cope!” that’s the message from the county council, NHS, police and partners who have come together this September to promote lifesaving messages to parents in Gloucestershire.
Research suggests that some parents and caregivers can lose control when a baby’s crying becomes too much. Some go on to shake a baby with devastating consequences.
Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) causes catastrophic brain injuries, which can lead to death, or significant long-term health and learning disabilities.
ICON is a national programme to provide information about infant crying, including how to cope, support parents/carers, reduce stress and prevent abusive head trauma in babies.
ICON week runs from 26 September to 30 September 2022 and aims to raise awareness of infant crying and how to cope in a bid to support parents/carers and prevent serious injury, illness and even death of young babies a result of these incidents.
The evidence-based programme consists of a series of brief interventions that reinforce the simple message making up the ICON acronym:
I Infant crying is normal and it will stop
C Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop
O It’s OK to walk away for a few minutes if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you
N Never ever shake or hurt a baby
Most babies start to cry more frequently from two weeks of age, with a peak usually being seen around 6-8 weeks. ICON aims to help normalise infant crying and share coping techniques to help parents to deal with the stress it can cause.
Nurse, health visitor and founder of ICON, Dr Suzanne Smith, said: “Abusive head trauma can occur in any environment when a parent or carer is on the edge due to infant crying.
“The pressure that families are under is only being exacerbated by added pressures of the cost-of-living increase and the impact can be far-reaching and have devastating consequences.
“ICON is about sharing messages of support and advice to parents and carers who might be struggling to cope. We want to normalise the fact that babies do cry and some aren’t easily soothed and we want to share information far and wide about what to do in these situations and how to stay calm.
“By sharing these vitally important messages and coping techniques to carers, we are working towards reducing the risk of harm to babies and protecting them from AHT which is utterly preventable.
“Anyone who needs help and is struggling to cope, don’t continue to struggle. Help is available from your midwife, health visitor, GP or go online and there are more resources on our ICON website.”
Cllr Nick Housden, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We are proud to support ICON week and will continue to work with our health colleagues to share these important messages with families, to prevent serious harm to babies and save lives.
“It’s normal for babies to cry, particularly in the first couple of months and this can be an extremely tiring and stressful time, as families adjust to the changes a baby brings.
“ICON helps parents and carers know what to expect, and gives them techniques to cope with crying. Most importantly, if they ever feel like it’s getting too much, ICON signposts where they can go to for support.”
Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Forest of Dean Head of Health Visiting, Elizabeth Parkes said: “Most babies will start to cry more frequently from two weeks of age and some people struggle to cope, however we are highlighting throughout the week that infant crying is normal, and it will stop.
“The ICON programme provides advice and support to help you cope; such as how to comfort a crying baby and recognising how to reduce the stress this can cause.
“If your baby is safe, it’s okay to walk away for a few minutes before calmly returning to soothe them. Remember, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling, your health visitor can help support you. Visit our website for our contact details and get in touch”.
Detective Inspector Nick Wheeler said: “The pressures parents and carers can face with young infants can be overwhelming, and we’re glad to be supporting ICON week to highlight the advice and support which is available during those difficult times.
“It’s important to remember you are not alone, and babies crying is normal – there is helpful information with tips on what to do in these stressful situations.
“Anything which can be done to help safeguard children from preventable harm is paramount, and these coping techniques are vital to help reduce the risk to children.”
A series of webinars is taking place throughout the week with speakers from the military, police, primary care, parent ambassadors, health visitors, and the education sector.
For more information visit www.iconcope.org/iconweek2022 .