Coping with a crying baby – new programme aimed at helping parents and carers

 

 

 

“Babies Cry, You Can Cope – never, ever shake or hurt a baby” is the message from ‘ICON’ – a new programme of intervention that aims to help parents and carers to cope with a crying baby.

Developed by the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board and the NHS, ICON involves midwives, health visitors, GPs and other professionals, who work with families, from a range of different organisations. It focuses on highlighting to parents and carers how they can cope with a crying baby and help to avoid them losing control and potentially harming a baby.

ICON represents the following important messages for parents and carers of babies and young children:

  • I – Infant crying is normal and it will stop
  • C – Comforting can sometimes soothe the baby – is the baby hungry, tired or in need of a nappy change
  • O – It’s okay to walk away for a few minutes if the crying is getting too much for you but you must leave the baby so it is safe, and return to check on the baby once you are calm
  • N – Never shake or harm a baby; it can cause lasting damage or death

 

Derek Benson, Chair of the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board, commented:

Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) affects up to 25 children per 100,000 in the UK and this is felt to be an underestimation. It is particularly difficult to spot – we know that babies can present with a multitude of symptoms and the complexity in diagnosis means that around 30% of such cases may not be initially recognised as AHT.

“Furthermore, around one third of severely shaken infants subsequently die as a result of being shaken and more than half of children aged 0-4 years, injured by abusive head trauma, will die before they turn 21 years old.

“This could be entirely preventable which is why we have worked with our health partners to embed the ICON message within services directly supporting parents and carers. This helps parents and carers to know that they can cope with a crying baby, learn how to soothe their baby and what to do if they are feeling stressed.”

The Director of Quality and Board Nurse of the Clinical Commissioning Group, Ellen McNicholas added: “This is a simple but essential message which should be shared with everyone who is caring for a child. Parents should be supported to understand that it’s okay to take a break from a baby’s crying as long as the baby is safe and you return to check on your baby after a few minutes.

“We are pleased that since our official launch to health and childcare professionals in September 2018, other areas such as Gloucestershire have followed us and we hope the initiative will be rolled out for the NHS as a whole.”

Dr Clare Harris, Named GP for Child Safeguarding for the West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, commented: “ICON is a fantastic project that will help keep babies safe. The message is clear and succinct and is being delivered by health professionals, including GPs, to pregnant women and new mothers across Hampshire. GPs using the ICON resources have commented it is a great way to give coping with crying advice and patients have found it very helpful.”

Commenting on how the programme is making a difference, the Named Midwife for Safeguarding Children at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dawn Oliver, said: “I have found it really useful to have this conversation with families, especially during the antenatal period and on the postnatal ward; as we can give the message to mothers and engage their partners. I also feel that I could be making a difference in supporting families when they go home; reassuring them that babies do cry and that this is normal.”

Health and safeguarding professionals are particularly keen that expectant dads/male carers are fully informed about ICON. To help, HSCB has commissioned the DadPad App to help dads/male carers in Hampshire to be better informed, involved and equipped to care for a baby safely. More information can be found online: https://thedadpad.co.uk/app/

Creator of DadPad, Julian Bose, said: “Dads can often feel left out when a new baby comes along and do not always know what to do to help and care for a baby when they’re needed most. The DadPad App provides the help they need to reduce anxiety and to care for their baby calmly and confidently.”