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Life Chances

The ICON Programme

The ICON programme aims to help prevent abusive head trauma by offering support to parents to help them cope with a crying baby.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) response

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the associated social isolation will put huge pressures on families who will remain in a confined space. This will be a very stressful time for the parents of new babies.

Simple, clear advice from midwives, health visitors and other health care professionals in the first days and weeks of a baby’s life can make a real difference, which is why Public Health Nursing is aiming to acquaint all new parents with the ICON message.

As such, the following two documents have been produced to help professionals pass on this important message:

  • Safeguarding infants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • “Babies cry, you can cope” crib sheet

Further information about the ICON approach during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is available on their website.

What is ICON?

ICON is an evidenced based programme consisting of a series of brief ‘touchpoint’ interventions that reinforce the simple message making up the ICON acronym of:

  • I – Infant crying is normal. And it will stop! Babies start to cry more frequently from around two weeks of age with a peak at around two months of age. Not being able to stop your baby crying at this age does not make you a bad parent!
  • C – Comforting methods can help. Sometimes just by soothing the baby can make the crying stop. After checking that the baby is not ill, run through some other basic checks e.g. are they hungry? Do they need a nappy change? Are they too hot or too cold? Some soothing techniques might be holding the baby skin to skin, singing/humming to the baby, let them hear a repeated or soothing sound, take them out for a walk – it this is difficult because of lockdown arrangements, walking around the house or the garden can have the same effect
  • O – It’s okay to walk away If you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you. After a few minutes when you are feeling calm, go back and check on the baby. Think about what will help you calm down – listening to music, having a cuppa, deep breathing, maybe call someone to offload.
  • N – Never, ever shake a baby. It can cause lasting brain damage and death.

You can find more detailed guidance on these steps here.

ICON resources

There are a number of brilliant resources for professionals available on the ICON website, include guidance that can be shared directly with parents.

The ICON programme has also produced a poster and a leaflet, which contain all the key information in quick, easily-digestible packages.

Information is also available through this PowerPoint presentation about the ICON approach.


If you are concerned that a child is being abused please call

0345 155 1071

or email

Professionals should complete the MASH contact form.

If it’s an emergency call 999