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Maternity staff at Royal Preston Hospital launch initiative to support parents with infant crying

The maternity team at Royal Preston Hospital has launched a new programme to support parents and care givers with practical support and safe coping strategies for when a baby/infant is crying frequently.

The ICON programme, which stands for:

I – Infant crying is normal

C – Comforting methods can help

O – It’s OK to walk away

N – Never, ever shake a baby

An idea made reality by Dr Suzanne Smith PhD, ICON aims to provide simple, evidence-based support to parents and care givers who may be struggling with infant crying, to help them cope and to prevent serious incidents.

One of Dr Smith’s areas of study was the prevention of Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). Research suggests that some care givers can lose control when a baby’s crying becomes too much, and some can go on to shake a baby with devastating consequences.

Lisa Maddock, Specialist Midwife for Public Health at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We know that for parents and caregivers, comforting a crying baby and coping with infant crying for a long period of time can be extremely stressful. By launching ICON at our hospitals, we hope to provide some comfort to those who might be needing support by offering constructive advice on different techniques that can help. ICON provides advice on how to soothe a baby and suggests some of the reasons why a baby might be crying. This may seem obvious, but looking after a crying baby can be very challenging and this support is often needed. It is vital that new parents in particular are equipped with this information and know that it is ok to struggle, it is ok to step away and it is ok to ask for help.”

ICON reminds parents and caregivers that infant crying is normal and it will stop. The programme provides advice on comfort methods that can soothe babies, such as singing to them or going for a walk. Things like babies needing a nappy change or being hungry and tired feature in the advice, as well as it being ok to walk away if the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you.

Debbie Gibbons, Named Midwife for Safeguarding at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“COVID 19 restrictions and social distancing guidance may potentially have a huge impact on support networks available for women from their extended family. With this in mind, it is more important than ever that these messages are shared and that families are aware of ICON and that they are encouraged to think about and plan ways to cope with a crying baby.”

The maternity team at Royal Preston Hospital felt so passionately about sharing these key messages that they co-produced a video based on why and when babies cry to get the message to new parents and families. Watch it here:

ICON from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals on Vimeo.

To find out more about ICON and to access helpful resources, visit

Get in touch

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital

Preston Road



01257 261222

Royal Preston Hospital

Sharoe Green Lane




01772 716565

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