Coping with crying: help parents to keep babies safe Evaluation of a pilot programme to prevent non-accidental head injury

Father and baby sonCrying can disrupt parents’ developing bonds with their babies, and in extreme cases, can cause parents to get angry and harm their babies. Working with doctors, midwives, parents and other experts, the NSPCC created a film to help parents to care for a crying baby, and reduce the risk of them becoming stressed and harming their baby.

The 'Preventing non-accidental head injury programme' started in December 2011 and worked with 24 hospitals and birthing units across the UK. The programme has been evaluated using: information collected from over 30,000 parents who saw the film, focus groups with practitioners and parents, and a telephone survey of over 1,500 parents.

We have published three reports providing an overall summary of all evaluation findings and two reports providing a detailed breakdown of findings from the focus groups and the telephone survey. This is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Sally Hogg and Denise Coster
Published: 2014

The findings provide promising evidence that the programme can contribute to reducing harm to babies:

  • 99% of parents remembered the film at least six months after watching it, with 83% saying they remembered it very or fairly well
  • 82% of parents who remembered seeing the film said they used advice from it when caring for their baby
  • parents who had seen the film were more likely to agree with the statement “it’s OK to leave your baby to cry for a few minutes when you are stressed and finding it hard to cope”
  • the rate of reported injuries amongst babies with feeding, sleeping or crying difficulties was lower if parents had seen the film.

The NSPCC is now testing the 'Preventing non-accidental head injury programme' in other settings using the new title Coping with crying.

Summary  3
Background  5
Our programme  7
The evaluation  7
Results  8
The next steps  10
Our partners  11
References  14

Please cite as: Hogg, S. and Coster, D. (2014) Helping parents cope with babies’ crying: evidence from a pilot programme to support parents and keep babies safe. London: NSPCC.

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Our free service for people who work with children can help you find the latest policy, practice, research and news on child protection and related subjects.

For more information, call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

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Support our research

Research like this helps keep children safe from abuse – but we can’t do it without our generous supporters. 

Donate now

Follow @NSPCCpro

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Library catalogue

We hold the UK's largest collection of child protection resources and the only UK database specialising in published material on child protection, child abuse and child neglect.

Search the library

New in the Library

A free weekly email listing all of the new child protection publications added to our library collection.

Sign up to New in the Library

Helping you keep children safe

Read our guide for professionals on what we do and the ways we can work with you to protect children and prevent abuse and neglect.

Read our guide (PDF)

Impact and evidence hub

Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.

Our impact and evidence

Get expert training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.
Get expert training

Sharing knowledge to keep children safe

Read our guide to NSPCC Knowledge and Information Services to find out how we can help you with child protection queries, support your research, and help you learn and develop.

Read our guide (PDF)