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Published: Wednesday, 20 September 2023

ICON is about helping people caring for babies cope with crying. ICON 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

Babies cry, you can cope!” is the message from NHS, local authorities, and healthcare organisations across the country 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         Comport 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. 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. ICON is about sharing messages of support and advice to parents and carers who might be struggling to cope. We want to normalise the fact that babies do cry and some aren’t easily soothed and we want to share information far and wide about what to do in these situations and how to stay calm. 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. 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 our ICON website.”


For more information visit

Date Time Topic
Monday 25 September 10:30-10:35 Sue Anslow, ICON Programme Manager - Welcome to ICON Week
  10:35-10:50 Dr Suzanne Smith PhD ICON Founder & Programme Advisor - Introduction
  10:50-11:00 Jane Scattergood – A few words from our Chair
  11:00-11:15 Sue Anslow - Feedback from Audit
  13:00-13:30 Joanna Garstang – Birmingham Videos
  14:30-15:00 Laura Kefford and Monica Davis - Raising awareness of ICON and abusive head trauma within the multi-agency
Tuesday 26 September 10:00-10:30 Craig Johnson – SCPHN/Clinical Advisor for School Health for SSAFA, based in British Forces Cyprus Delivering ICON to the teenage audience
  11:00-11:30 Tilly Pillay and Vijay Jobanputra STORK Programme and ICON
  13:30-14:00 Eleanor Marcham - Team Leader 0-19 service Locala’s approach to ICON and male inclusivity
  15:00-15:30 Fran Acharya – ReachDeck - An accessible website for all
Wednesday 27 September 10:00-10:30 James Footitt Account Director, Bauer Media - Get Our Message Heard
  11:00-11:30 Lois Fisher Deputy Clinical Lead- ICON - Update from 0-19 HCP across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  13:30-14:00 Dr Giles Haythornthwaite - Consultant Paediatrician - Why the Major Trauma network in the UK are stakeholders in parent advice at birth and support the ICON message
  15:00-15:30 Deborah Gibbons - Safeguarding Midwife, Carla Clarke – Named Midwife Safeguarding, and Karen Turzynski - Clinical Practice Lead ICON Developments in Lancashire
Thursday 28 September 10:30-11:00 Krishnen Sawmynaden and Professor Anna Tarrant - Rethinking Dads
  12:00-12:30 Emma Davis - Senior Probation Officer Warrington - Probation and ICON
  13:00-13:30 Jonathan Hill Brown, Karen Tyson-Lee and Monica Davis - MECSH and ICON in Harrow Health Visiting
  14:30-15:00 Dr Rachael Jolley - ICON in General Practice
Friday 29 September 10:00-10:30 Kieran Anders - Dad Matters and ICON
  10:45-11:30 Parents Ambassadors
  11:30-12:00 Final thoughts and close from Dr Suzanne Smith


All webinars are on Microsoft Teams and available at this link