Evaluation of Coping with Crying Final evaluation of a programme helping new parents to calm their crying baby

Man holding a babyIt can be stressful for parents when their baby cries and this can have a negative impact on their mental health and relationships. Coping with Crying is a short film which shows new or expectant parents coping strategies they can use with a crying baby and prepares them for how babies normally behave. It also explains the dangers of roughly handling or shaking a baby.

This report provides evidence about what works to help parents cope with a crying infant and reduce non-accidental injury. It is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Denise Coster, Caroline Bryson and Susan Purdon
Published: 2016

There is evidence that Coping with Crying has a positive impact on parents' knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.

  • The highest proportion of parents saw the film when it was shown at routine clinic appointments or in the hospital after having given birth.
  • Nearly all parents remembered seeing the film up to 6 months after they had watched it.
  • Parents who watched the film in hospital after the birth reported a small improvement in their knowledge about infant crying and the dangers of shaking their baby, as well as their use of new coping strategies.
  • The film had more impact on parents who watched the film in the antenatal or postnatal period, after discharge from hospital, than parents who had watched it in hospital. They had better knowledge about the impact of shaking their baby, were more likely to agree that it was normal for babies to cry, used the recommended soothing strategies more often and felt more confident asking for help.
  • Evidence suggests that during times of stress parents who had watched the film were reacting in a positive way to their infant crying and were seeking help when it was necessary.
  • The evaluation did not find any evidence that the babies of parents who watched the film had fewer injuries than the babies of parents who had not watched it. However it is difficult to measure this because parents were asked to report all injuries that their baby had sustained, not just those which were non-accidental.
Acknowledgements 3
Key findings 6
Executive summary 7
Chapter 1: Introduction 11
Chapter 2: Findings 23
Chapter 3: Discussion 44
Conclusion 47
Bibliography 48
Appendices 52

"I thought about the film a few times. I thought 'You know what, every parent goes through this. It's not just me', and that makes a big difference, to know you're not just the only one."

"It does make you aware, doesn't it? When you're getting a bit angry and you start to feel yourself getting stronger with them and you think, 'Oh'. There's a reality check on just how fragile they are really at that point ... You remember the film don't you?"

Please cite as: Coster, D., Bryson, C. and Purdon, S. (2016) Evaluation of Coping with Crying: final report. London: NSPCC.

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