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ICON – Hospital-based intervention: key talking points


This intervention should last no longer than 6 minutes of professional talking time. Obviously different parents will have different questions and the intervention may take longer with some than with others.

This is the most important time to discuss this topic with male partners and every effort should be made to deliver this short intervention when the male partner is present before discharge home from the postnatal ward making sure they are as involved as possible and that questions are directed to them as well as to the mother.

You will need:

Step One: Infant crying is normal and it will stop

It’s a good idea to deliver this message alongside the information about safe sleeping. This information is also included on the ICON leaflet and is a good starting point and a way to lead into the topic of crying. If babies aren’t asleep, they are sometimes crying.

Start with ‘”Hello my name is [your name]. Before you go home with your baby I just want to spend 5 minutes chatting with you about why and when babies cry and give you some information to take home with you”.

Ask what the parents/partners know about why babies cry and whether they knew that increased crying between 2 and 8 weeks is normal.

Go through the leaflet starting at the beginning and emphasising that it is normal for babies to cry more frequently from 2 weeks, reaching a peak at 6-8 weeks then starting to cry less and less each week.

Acknowledge that a baby’s cry is designed to get your attention and can be frustrating and worrying.

Highlight that if they are worried their baby is not well or need some reassurance, they can talk with their health visitor, midwife or GP.

Step Two: Comfort methods can sometimes soothe a baby and the crying will stop

Talk about ways to comfort a crying baby. Ask what methods the parents/partners have tried or thought about trying to comfort a crying baby? If they are an experienced parent ask what methods they have tried in the past and what they find works. Talk through the techniques referred to in the leaflet.

Again remind the parent that if they are worried that the crying won’t stop, it’s okay to check it out with a health professional/provider (midwife, health visitor, GP, NHS 111).

Mention that sometimes, a baby will continue to cry for no obvious reason and their job as a parent/carer is to learn how to cope with it.

Step Three: It’s OK to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you

Refer to the leaflet and provide reassurance that not being able to stop a baby crying does not mean a parent/carer is doing anything wrong or that they have a ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ baby.

Discuss ways a parent/carer might take their mind off the crying. Ask, what they think might work for them and refer to the leaflet for some examples.

Make sure you emphasise that the parent/carer must make sure the baby is safe before walking away and that they go back to check on baby after a few minutes when they can feel themselves calming down.

Emphasise the need for parents to find time for themselves to help them cope through what can be a really stressful time for all parents/carers.

Step Four: Never ever shake or hurt a baby

Suggest to the parents that it is really important that they share this information with everyone who looks after their baby as it’s not only parents who get frustrated by a baby’s cry.

Refer to the leaflet “What not to do” and point out how parents and people looking after babies can sometimes get so angry and frustrated with a baby’s cry they lose control and shake their baby which is highly dangerous leading to life long injuries and potentially death.

Suggest to parents/carers that they check that caregivers understand about how to cope with crying before leaving their baby with them.

Finally: ICON – babies cry you can cope

Go to the ICON logo at the back of the leaflet and run through the acronym to reiterate everything you have just said.  Provide the fridge magnet and if there is a DVD/app available, provide access to that and suggest parents/carers watch it when they are at home.

Point to the section of the leaflet about information and support.

Ask parents if they have any questions.

Show the commitment statement and ask both parents/partners to sign to say they have received the info and will share it with other caregivers.


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