ICON Week 2023: Raising Awareness of infant crying and how to cope

“Babies cry, you can cope!” is the message from NHS, local authorities, and healthcare organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside who have come together this September to promote lifesaving messages to parents. 

Research shows 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 programme adopted by health and social care organisations in the UK to provide information about infant crying, including how to cope, support parents/carers, reduce stress and prevent abusive head trauma in babies. 

The third annual ICON week, spanning from 25 September – 29 September 2023, 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 as 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. Organisations coming together from 25 September – 29 September, aim to spread the messages to help normalise infant crying and share coping techniques to help parents to deal with the stress it can cause. 

Chris Douglas, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Director of Nursing and Care, said:


It’s important that we normalise the fact that babies cry and that it’s not always easy to sooth them. It can be extremely hard for any parent or carer so we want everyone to know what to do in that situation and how to stay calm. 

“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 the ICON website.” 

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. 

“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.” 

For more advice, visit www.iconcope.org.