Report shines a light on baby inequalities as charities call on Government to act now to avoid a “Post-COVID19 lottery”
Charity collective Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and the Parent-Infant Foundation reveal key findings from an online survey of over 5,000 parents that highlight the chronic under resourcing of services for families, the inequalities in babies’ early experiences and its worsening forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three charities – who all work to improve outcomes for parents and children with a focus on the early years – warn that many families with lower incomes, young parents and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, will have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
- Online survey of 5,474 expectant mothers, new parents and parents of toddlers, undertaken during the pandemic, reveals almost 7 in 10 found their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby had been impacted as a result of COVID-19
- Only one third expressed confidence in being able to access mental health support if required
- Nearly 7 in 10 felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child (with an increase in crying, tantrums and becoming more clingy). This was felt most sharply amongst parents under 25 years old and those on the lowest incomes
- Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and Parent-Infant Foundation urge the Government to provide a ‘Baby Boost’ (£55m) to enable local services to better support families who have had a baby during the lockdown and to introduce a new ‘Parent-Infant Premium’ (£1,000 per baby in disadvantaged families) for local commissioners working to tackle early inequalities
- Without decisive action, they warn, the ‘post-COVID-19 lottery’ will worsen pre-existing inequalities in the UK
“Our report highlights experiences of new parents during COVID. Over 400 Babies were born in West Lothian during this time but some of those have been forgotten in pandemic responses and this needs to change. Parents have coped brilliantly but we report unequal impacts and significant trauma for many.”
Stuart Barrie Home-Start West Lothian
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 ramifications of the lockdown have been detrimental, and could cast a long shadow going forward for parents and babies alike.
Evidence shows that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life, from pregnancy to age two lay the 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. Around 2,000 babies are born in the UK every day which means that over 200,000 babies were born between 23rd March and 4th July – the most intense period of lockdown.
According to the survey results, almost 7 in 10 parents(68%) felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child – reporting an increase in babies crying, having tantrums and becoming more clingy during this time. The survey results indicated that a change in baby behaviour was twice as likely to be reported amongst those on the lowest incomes, with under 25s particularly affected, with over half (59%) noticing their babies becoming more clingy during lockdown.
Furthermore, almost 7 in 10 (68%) parents surveyed said theirability to cope with their pregnancy or baby has been impacted by COVID-19, with nearly 9 in 10 (87%) parents saying they were more anxious as a result. The number of parents reporting increased anxiety correlated with those who had a lower household income. Yet only one third (32%) of respondents expressed confidence in being able to access mental health support if required.
Peter Grigg, Chief Executive at Home-Start, states:
“This report exposes how unequal the experiences of parents and babies to COVID-19 have been. There is an urgent need to build back better for all communities. These proposals for a Baby Boost and Parent Infant Premium represent clear, simple interventions that can be made now to help make sure we avoid a post-COVID lottery in the future. We want to improve the wellbeing of all babies to ensure a happier and successful next generation.”
For more info and to read the full report https://babiesinlockdown.info/download-our-report/