Infant Crying and How to Cope - ICON

Abusive Head Trauma - ICON Campaign


ICON is a programme aimed at helping parents and carers with young babies to cope with infant crying. 

Most babies start to cry more frequently at about two weeks of age, with crying becoming more frequent and longer lasting during the next few weeks and reaching a peak at six to eight weeks. The ICON programme offers the support to let parents and carers know that this behaviour is completely normal and that they are not alone in dealing with this situation. It is completely natural for babies to cry and it is important to remember that this will stop. After approximately eight weeks babies start to cry less and less each week.

ICON provides the important messages below on how to cope with a crying baby: 

  • I – Infant crying is normal and it will stop
  • C – Comforting methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop
  • O – It is OK to walk away, if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you. After a few minutes when you are feeling calm, go back and check on the baby
  • N – Never, ever shake or hurt a baby; it can cause lasting brain damage or death
Support is available for parents and families

For support, contact your midwife, health visitor or GP

What is abusive head trauma?
  • ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’
  • Child Abuse
  • Catastrophic injuries:
  • Bleeds in the brain and behind eyes
  • Fractures
  • Babies can be shaken, thrown or hit
  • It affects approximately 24 of every 100,000 babies admitted to hospital each year
  • Research suggests 1 in 9 mothers may have shaken their baby and up to 2 in 9 felt like doing so.
Who shakes and why?
  • 70% perpetrators are males – fathers/male  surrogates (Kesler et a 2008; Altman et al 2010)
  • Can occur in every socio-economic group
  • Coping with crying: Living on the edge
  • Caregivers lose control and shake – baby stops crying
  • Demonstrable relationship between the normal peak of crying and babies subject to AHT. (Barr et al 2006)
  • Increase in cases in the 1stmonth of life, a peak at 6 weeks during the 2nd month and a decrease during the 3rd to 5th months of life
  • Crying is considered the main trigger
  • Peak of crying is 6-8 weeks of age
  • The parents or the mother's partner are responsible for  AHT in 75% of babies
  • A majority of perpetrators are male
  • The most at risk groups are:
  • Male baby
  • Below 6 months
  • Low birth weight

This short film about the ICON message can be viewed below.

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