The Babies in Lockdown report produced by Home-Start UK, Best Beginnings and the Parent Infant Foundation captures the experiences of over 5,000 families who responded to the online survey. The findings highlight the lack of support for families and the inequalities in babies’ early experiences.
Evidence shows that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life, are critical in terms of laying solid foundations for a happy and healthy life. The support and wellbeing of babies during this time is strongly linked to better outcomes later in life, including educational achievement, progress at work, physical and mental health.
“It’s made a challenging time unimaginably hard and lonely.” – Mum
The results highlight a range of issues facing parents surveyed, revealing the devastating impact on babies as well as their parents, from increased mental health concerns and difficult birthing experiences, to dads and other co-parents being excluded from the pregnancy journey and digital health appointments reported as leaving some women feeling exposed and humiliated.
The survey shows that:
- Almost 7 in 10 parents found their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby had been impacted as a result of COVID-19 and as a result nearly 9 in 10 felt more anxious.
- Nearly 7 in 10 felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child.
- Only one third expressed confidence in being able to access mental health support if required.
“I am pretty sure I have post-natal depression but I don’t feel the NHS has the time to help me at the moment.” – Mum
The ramifications of the lockdown have been detrimental, and research shows that many families with lower incomes, young parents and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
There is now call for the government to make:
- A one-off Baby Boost to enable local services to support families who have had a baby during or close to lockdown.
- A new Parent-Infant Premium providing new funding for local commissioners, targeted at improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children.
- Significant and sustained investment in core funding to support families from conception to age two and beyond, including in statutory services, charities and community groups.