Lockdown Has Affected Babies' Development and Behaviourby Laura Driver
Lockdown has affected the development and behaviour of babies across the UK, a study suggests. Over 5,000 mothers, fathers and other co-parents completed the survey.
The Babies In Lockdown report, commissioned by Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and the Parent-Infant Foundation, found some new parents felt 'abandoned' by the lack of care available during lockdown. Others said their baby had become more clingy or was crying more than usual.
More than 200,000 babies are believed to have been born when lockdown was at its most restrictive, between 23 March and 4 July, according to the research. The survey suggests the impact of Covid-19 on these babies could be 'severe' and may be 'long-lasting' as both caregivers and the children themselves are impacted by the pandemic.
A third (34 per cent) of respondents believed that their baby’s interaction with them had changed during the lockdown period. Almost half (47 per cent) of parents reported that their baby had become more clingy. One quarter (26 per cent) reported their baby crying more than usual.
One 38-year-old mother said: 'I have been crying for hours on end, having anxiety and panic attacks which are all out of the ordinary for me. This has affected my nine month old son who has seen me experience this and has been more tearful and clingy with me… My son is hating me working from home because he doesn’t understand why mama is ignoring him when he can hear me and is now super clingy with me. He had never had screen time or seen me use a mobile before this. Now most of his social interactions are online and he doesn’t understand why I am locked away 35 hours a week in the bedroom.
Another mother, 24, who has a two-year-old and is five months pregnant, added: 'My two-year-old has become violent and upset quite a lot of the time due to this. He’s finding it hard just seeing and being in contact with two people. I fear for the effects this lockdown will have on him later in life.'
A third mother, aged 37 said: 'I planned to enrol my 15-months-old (in March) to a nursery to help him with his social skills – he does not say words and is not responding to his name which worries me. Not this is not possible [sic], I suspect his development is possibly behind but can do nothing about it at the moment. My 4 months old has only seen his brother, father and my face. I’m worried about his development also, I planned to take him to various classes, meet other mums with babies – this is also not possible at the moment.'
Some parents also expressed concerns over the support they were offered before and after the birth. Over a third (34 per cent) of those who gave birth during lockdown stated that care at birth was not as planned.