You will have seen the terrible things that have happened to a very small number of babies in the past; unfortunately the potential for abuse is still real and present, and we all need to do what we can to minimise this - safeguarding and maternity colleagues in Humber, Coast and Vale launch the ICON 'Babies Cry, You Can Cope' shaken baby prevention programme

Safeguarding leads at East Riding, Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire CCGs

We all know how difficult times have been over the last few months, and how sometimes it feels like the small things that used to just wash over us previously feel so much harder to bear.

This is especially true when we’re stuck at home, without the opportunity to go for a cuppa with a friend, or get some much-needed respite with family.

For many who have given birth or have had young children around recently, these difficulties have been magnified. Bringing up tiny babies without some of that parental support or that of friends has made many families feel tired and stressed.

We want to be able to reassure parents that some of the problems they encounter are a normal part of bringing up babies; which is why we’re promoting the ICON ‘Babies Cry, You Can Cope’ programme across Humber, Coast and Vale.

You will have seen the terrible things that have happened to a very small number of babies in the past; unfortunately the potential for abuse is still real and present, and we all need to do what we can to minimise this.

This video, from the ICON website, tells the story of Ellis, a boy shaken by his mother’s partner at just three months old who lived until he was 14. Please note that some people might find this video distressing.

You may not know that babies cry in a pattern over the post-natal period, with significant crying starting to build at two weeks , and peaking in intensity at around eight weeks  before starting to drop off again. For premature babies this pattern starts two weeks after their planned date of birth, not their actual birth date.

This is known as the ‘crying curve’ and helps to normalise something that parents often feel is something to do with their parenting skills; adding more pressure to the situation. Just having this knowledge means parents can plan for this time, and be prepared.

The ICON programme gives practical support and advice to parents; telling them they can put the baby down somewhere safe and take a break for a few minutes if they are feeling stressed, and that they can seek help from midwives, GPs, health visitors and other professionals. We want to give parents the tools to cope.

I – Infant crying is normal

C – Comforting methods can help

O – It’s OK to walk away

N – Never, ever shake a baby

Maternity colleagues across Humber, Coast and Vale have worked with health and care professionals to embed this initiative  – with different ‘touchpoints’ before and after the birth, where those professionals can share this information and enable parents to cope better.

The Humber, Coast and Vale Local Maternity System has ensured that leaflets will be provided to all new parents, and posters are available to be used in midwifery waiting areas and GP practice buildings to start spreading these messages.

We’re hoping that these contacts give parents enough information to know what to do when they feel stressed by their babies crying, and use these coping tools to prevent a tragedy.

Leo Stevens

Author Leo Stevens

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