Offering parents the right support to cope with crying babies

Picture by Jon Challicom

Picture by Jon Challicom

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Parents often feel stressed when trying to soothe their crying child.

The more flustered the parent becomes, the child, quite possibly, can sense the frustration and the situation becomes exacerbated.

According to Phil Hubbard, head of Health Visiting Services at Bradford District Care Trust, Bradford has a high incidence of ‘shaken baby syndrome’ now called non-accidental head injury.

Now the city and Airedale has been selected as one of 19 areas to benefit from a ground-breaking pilot programme.

Run by the NSPCC, and created in partnership with experts at Warwick Medical School and Great Ormond Street Hospital, Coping with Crying is based on a similar programme in America which reduced the number of babies who suffered from non-accidental injuries by nearly half.

The programme involves a powerful film shown to parents-to-be or new parents about caring for a crying baby. It will be delivered in homes and children’s centres by health visitors and local authority family support workers.

As well as giving parents supportive tips and advice, the film also explores the dangers of shaking a baby.

Says Phil: “We are joining up with health and social care partners across Bradford and Airedale to support the NSPCC’s programme. Nationally, concern about a baby crying is one of the most common reasons that new parents seek help from professionals. This is a simple idea that will enhance the work we are already doing with new families.”

Phil explains the film is a hard-hitting DVD shown to parents around the causes of non-accidental injuries based on the experiences of the individuals and couples who are featured. She says it also opens the subject up for discussion.

The film is aimed at the whole family approach and not just mothers, as Phil explains evidence has shown that a high proportion of non-accidental head injury perpetrators are fathers.

“It is essential because the aim of the programme is to reduce the incidence of non-accidental head injury and I think it will provide health professionals with the opportunity to discuss these issues as well as providing visual aids to demonstrate that.”

Over the last two years the NSPCC has been running the programme in 24 hospitals and birthing units and more than 30,000 parents have now seen the film.

The NSPCC’s evaluation results suggest that the film is helping to keep babies safe. Ninety-nine per cent of parents asked remembered the film at least six months after watching it.

Eighty-two per cent said they used the advice from the film when caring for their baby. The rate of reported injuries amongst babies with feeding, sleeping or crying difficulties was lower if their parents had seen the film.

Alison Dinsdale, health visitor at Bradford District Care Trust, says: “Looking after a crying baby can be challenging and parents can sometimes struggle to soothe their baby. When their baby cries, it is common for parents to feel frustrated and this film will provide a valuable resource for parents to help them to cope.”

“There are lots of professionals out there who can help people understand what it will be like working with a new baby and how to cope with it and the significance of caring for that baby.”

Sharda Parthasarathi, NSPCC service manager for Leeds and Bradford who is also the Yorkshire and Humber lead for the Coping with Crying programme, says: “I think the partnership relationships the NSPCC has with children’s social care, the local authority and with health have been really good.

“We pride ourselves on these relationships, so to have the opportunity to do a project like this together is fantastic.

“We want to reduce these injuries, but we are still talking about quite small numbers, and what we want to do is ensure all parents have the confidence to ask for help and have a few techniques up their sleeve to manage their crying baby.”

For more information parents-to-be or new parents should contact their health visitors.

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