Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and the Parent-Infant Foundation reveal key findings from a joint online COVID-19 survey during lockdown. Thanks to extraordinary support from organisations, influencers and parents -  over 5,000 mothers, fathers and other co-parents completed the survey.

The Babies in Lockdown report captures the experiences of respondents and highlights the range of issues parents faced, the lack of support for families, and the inequalities in babies’ early experiences. For example:

  • Almost 7 in 10 found their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby had been impacted as a result of COVID-19.
  • 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.
  • Many families with lower incomes, from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young parents have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic and were less likely to receive the support they needed. This is likely to have widened existing inequalities.

Other issued raised by parents were increased mental health concerns and difficult birthing experiences, 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.

In the report, we make three policy calls:

  • 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

Alison Baum OBE, our CEO and Founder, comments: "The report demonstrates firsthand the serious challenges faced by parents across the country at such an important time in their lives and in the lives of their babies.Without the support from loved ones and sufficient pre and postnatal care, many parents felt isolated and anxious. We must ensure that parents of all backgrounds receive the support they need, so they can look after themselves and have the knowledge, confidence and support to be able to give their children the best start in life.”

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.” 

Beckie Lang, Chief Executive at Parent-Infant Foundation, continues: ”Around 200,000 babies were born during the height of the lockdown, with many more just before and since. It is time for national leadership and a rescue, recovery and repair plan for the nation’s youngest children if we are to create a better, more equitable society in which more children can thrive. The opportunity to act is now.”  

The report will be available at babiesinlockdown.info from Wednesday 5th August.