“Babies cry, you can cope!” is the message from Somerset Council’s Public Health team this September for ICON week – a campaign to prevent the serious brain injury that can occur as a result of forceful shaking of an infant.

According to NHS research, brain trauma – caused when a baby is hit or shaken – is the most common severe injury in babies. 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.

‘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 ICON acronym is a tool to help parents and caregivers when they are feeling overwhelmed:

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 in a safe sleep space and the crying is getting to you

N: Never ever shake or hurt a baby

Somerset Council’s Public Health Team has worked with professionals such as midwifes, GPs, Public Health Nurses and Practitioners from Perinatal Mental Health to produce free learning resources for anyone who might be supporting a family – this could be a midwife, social worker, or even a relative or family friend.

All training and learning modules can be accessed at the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership website: Pre-Birth & Under 2’s – Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership.

The learning and resources are designed to be revisited as both locally and nationally they will develop and increase over time.

Cllr Adam Dance, Executive Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity at Somerset Council said:

Caring for a new baby can be a stressful time for families, so it’s important that people are able to recognise when they are feeling overwhelmed and need a break.

Where there are babies and families, there are opportunities for all of us to provide support and advice, and I’d encourage anyone who is supporting a new family – whether as a professional, or friend or family member – to use these new free learning resources.

ICON is about sharing messages of support and advice to parents and carers who might be struggling to cope. This awareness week is about normalising the fact that babies do cry, and some aren’t easily soothed.

To 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 Healthy Somerset website.

There is a wealth of information and resources available to everyone not just practitioners.  Please visit any of the below for more support and information:


About this article

September 21, 2023

Debbie Rundle

Press Release

Public Health