Lockdown has changed all of our lives in so many different ways. But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed it is that babies are still being born, including of course a new arrival in Downing Street.
In England 1,688 babies are born every day.This means that 76,000 babies will already have been born during lockdown, and we have no idea when things will return to anything like normal. For most people having a new baby will be a source of untold joy, and while coronavirus will add to the challenges new parents face, many will respond in innovative ways – introducing grandparents over Zoom, or having virtual meet-ups with friends. For some families, however, the new pressure that the arrival of a baby can bring – on relationships, finances, and mental health – can push them into crisis. This briefing focuses on those families, and the additional challenges they will face because of coronavirus.
The Children’s Commissioner’s Office is particularly concerned about the limitations in support offered to new families under lockdown, the reductions in contact with health visitors, and the inability to maintain birth registers.
This briefing paper highlights the need for policymakers to put families with young children, and especially those with newborns, at the heart of coronavirus planning. It shows that the risks to babies and young children can be reduced if the government and services think creatively to find ways to bring vital support to new parents, and takes proactive steps to ensure that different agencies routinely share data on these children – now more important than ever.