News News Stories 600,000 babies born in lockdown are overlooked In the year since we first locked down, over 600,000 babies living in England have been born and have lived their whole lives in lockdown. Many have been exposed to high levels of stress, particularly when parents are overloaded with financial worries, or have experienced domestic abuse or mental health problems. Many families with young children are missing out on vital support as their struggles have gone under the radar of professionals due to shortages in services, exacerbated by lockdown restrictions. It is these, often invisible, babies in families with multiple risk factors that are most at risk. Babies are missing out yet again. The Government has announced £1.7bn COVID catch-up funding for school children but there has been no support for babies. Research has found a “Baby Blindspot” in the Government’s COVID-19 response. On the 23rd March as the 1st birthdays of the babies born in lockdown begin, The First 1001 Days Movement, made up of nearly 200 children’s charities, including Action for Children, Home-Start UK, the Institute for Health Visiting, The Parent-Infant Foundation, NCT and NSPCC are asking parents, grandparents, carers, sisters and brothers across the UK to join the #WhatAboutUs campaign and share their babies' missed moments. Business woman and media personality, Lauren Pope, who also set up pregnancy/mum group @themumspace at the beginning of the first lockdown, had a baby girl last summer and said: "All babies born in the last year are at a clear disadvantage having come into the world during a lockdown and missing out on opportunities they would have had under normal circumstances. A lot of these babies are at further risk and vulnerability because their families were already experiencing hardships, such as poor housing and poverty. All of these babies have so far been overlooked by Covid recovery funding which is vital to help make up for some of what they have missed. Please join the #WhatAboutUs campaign and help these little ones to have a voice." The campaign has been launched to encourage the Government to show parity of support for babies in lockdown. The Government must ensure babies are given an equal route out of the pandemic that address their needs and ensure they have a better start in life. Fuzz, mother of 4 and caring for a 10month old baby. She also runs a virtual group for new mums for KidsMatter called Babies Matter. ‘It's been difficult and distressing during this pandemic to see how much the isolation and lack of support for new parents has affected families - parents and babies alike. It’s so hard to care well for a baby when you are feeling anxious, lonely, unsupported and isolated, and so it’s the babies who are suffering, plus they don’t have the same socialising opportunities as normal and we don’t yet know what the long-term impact of all this will be on the generation of Covid-babies.’ Sally Hogg, Head of Policy and Campaigning at the Parent-Infant Foundation and Coordinator of the First 1001 Days Movement “It is critical that the youngest children are not forgotten in the COVID recovery efforts. The Government must extend their support to include all children, not just those attending school or preschool. We welcome the £1.7bn, but yet again, there has been a baby blindspot. The earliest years of life are the most rapid stage of brain development, which lay the foundation for future health and wellbeing.It is critical that babies and families who have suffered as a result of the pandemic are identified and given the support they need as quickly as possible.” Many of these invisible babies especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds who may have missed out on support have been exposed to risks, stress and potential harm in their first year. The evidence shows that this increases the risk of a range of poor outcomes in the long term. Local authorities reported more than 100 serious incidents of injury and death involving babies under one between April and October 2020. Up by 50% on the previous six months. Of all the serious incidents involving children in that period, 36% were babies under one. (Ofsted). In research with practitioners who work for babies 98% reported that babies they work with were affected by parental anxiety, stress and depression which was making it harder for parents to provide their babies with the sensitive, responsive care which is so vital for early development. Pregnancy and the earliest years of life are a crucial time for brain development and a nurturing environment is so important for little ones. The last year has been stressful for everyone but funding services that support secure attachment and bonding between parents and a baby can act as a protective factor in the fallout from the pandemic, helping babies to develop and thrive despite the challenges of the last year. #WhatAboutUs appeals to the Government on behalf of the 600,000 babies born in lockdown, and other babies and toddlers who are also forgotten. The campaign calls for Government to extend the COVID catch-up funding to younger children. Matching the amount given per school-aged child would deliver £117m for the babies born since the first lockdown began. This will fund interventions such as targeted support from health visitors, specialist services and charities, to help babies and families recover from the harms caused by the pandemic. This money should be used to enable additional contact with families with very young babies, to meet the backlog in health visiting and GP appointments that have been missed and to enable public services and charities to reach out to understand families’ needs, identify risks and issues and offer support. Strong evidence shows higher early years development spending leads to improved later life earnings, particularly for pupils from poorer backgrounds. The same impact delivered by £1 in early years costs £7 if you wait to intervene in adolescence. Becky Saunders, Head of Policy, Home-Start UK: Our local Home-Start’s see at first hand just how tough the experience of the pandemic has been for families with babies and very young children. They are also witnessing an increase in the level of need in local communities as the disruptions of the pandemic have continued and with services and social networks having been stripped back or unavailable in the usual way. There has been an absence of recognition of the importance of this time in a babies’ life, and the particular needs of their families, in the Government recovery plans. Government must invest to ensure that vital support services for families are strengthened and available to be alongside parents in the challenges of parenting and in order to give their child the best start in life. Sarah McMullen, Director of Impact and Engagement at NCT ‘The pandemic has had a serious impact on our youngest and most vulnerable, restricting the practical, emotional and specialist support available at a critical time in life. Babies and families have been forgotten about throughout this year of restrictions, stress and challenge. It’s absolutely vital that funding is put in place to identify families most at risk and make sure support is available’. Vicky Nevin, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the NSPCC: “We are deeply concerned that the pandemic has made pregnancy and infancy tougher for families this year, while also reducing their access to vital support services. “This means an increased risk of mental health problems in pregnancy and the child’s first year going under the radar of professionals, making it harder for parents to get the help they need. “The Government must deliver a recovery plan that includes parents and babies, addresses the decline in health visitors and rebuilds the healthy child programme so all parents and babies get the support they need for a fair start in life.” Share your missed moments. Let Rishi Sunak know your story. Don’t let our government forget the under 2’s. #WhatAboutUs Follow the campaign on social media at #WhatAboutUs Or visit 1001days.org.uk/whataboutus Home-Start co-authored the Babies in Lockdown Report - Published: 5th August, 2020. Findings included: Almost 7 in 10(68%) parents felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child. One quarter (25%) of parents reported concern about their relationship with their baby, and one third (35%) of these would like to get help with this. 6 in 10 (61%) parents shared significant concerns about their mental health. Two thirds (68%) of parents said their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby has been impacted by COVID-19. The findings consistently showed that younger parents, those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and those with low incomes had higher levels of concerns and less access to information and support. The #WhatAboutUs campaign calls for Government to extend the COVID catch-up funding to younger children. Matching the amount given per school-aged child would deliver £117m for the babies born since the first lockdown began. That is just £191 per baby born in the 12 months since lockdown began. Supported by Kindred²: Kindred2 is a charitable foundation working collaboratively with partner organisations to improve early education and early child development.