This is a stressful time for everyone: adults, children and babies

Here at PAIRS (Parent and Infant Relationship Service) we suggest ways you can support babies and young children with their feelings

Re-joining the outside world

It’s understandable if you or your baby feel cautious, nervous or even disinterested in linking up with others after being locked down for such a long time. On the other hand you might not be able to wait to get out and about and connect. You might want to take small steps at first, such as going to the park or for a walk, or simply reaching out to another person.

Everybody faces Covid-19 differently, and engaging with others can feel hard when you’re out of practice, so it's important that you feel comfortable to engage at your own pace. You can ask organisers or venues about their Covid safety measures. You can also make clear to others what you feel comfortable and safe with.

We find that parents usually value sharing their experiences and can feel the benefits of support from a group or just another person. Even just singing nursery rhymes, your baby seeing other babies or you having a chat with another adult can make a big difference.

You can check our events calendar when you are ready to meet other parents and to take your child to an activity, or check out the Lock Down Baby Club. This was set up to encourage parents who had babies during lockdown to engage in a group with other parents and their babies, and to provide a safe opportunity for parents to catch up with the experience of attending a baby group. 

Help your baby and young child to cope with change

Young children will be affected by changes in their routines and environments due to Covid-19.

Even babies and children not yet talking will notice and feel changes, particularly differences in their parents’ mood. They easily pick up on fear and worry (even from conversations in the next room or the TV in the background).

Young children need honesty from adults, but they don't need to know all the worrying details about the pandemic or its impact.

Respond to your children’s questions so worries don’t build up over time. Young children need simple answers that won’t scare them, and babies and young children need soothing and reassurance.

Think about your baby and or young child’s feelings

Young children need help from adults to understand change and to explore their feelings. Watch, listen and play with your child to understand more about what they are feeling.

You are the best person to soothe and reassure your baby or young child, especially when you know what is worrying them (remember, sometimes young children worry about things you least expect!).

Think about your feelings too

The easing of lockdown may be a positive sign, but it can bring a different kind of stress from living under tight restrictions. Aspects of your life and the world may feel very unsettled or uncertain. There is no ‘normal’ way to feel.  

Understanding your own feelings, looking after yourself and feeling supported by others are really important. They will make it more possible for you to help your baby and young child. 

If it is safe for your child, take time for yourself to rest and recover, especially if you are feeling very stressed.

Focus on the things that are within your control and give yourself time to adjust. Routines are always helpful for parents and children to get through the day, so try to maintain one, but don’t feel you need to have the perfect timetable.

Think who makes you feel safe and stay connected with them in person, virtually or just in your mind.

Seek practical or emotional support if you are struggling. Reach out to someone you trust, seek out online support or speak to your GP. Also check our emotional wellbeing pages.

Find ways for you and your child to cope with any anxiety

It's not always possible, but try to stay calm in front of your child. Some ways to cope with anxiety (for both parents and young children) include:

• listen to and understand your worries

• keep your mind and body active

• find ways to distract yourself and

• notice positive things.

You might like to try relaxation techniques or creative activities.

Pregnancy: Parents-to-be and your baby

It's quite common to have strong feelings about expecting a baby, including lots of worry.

The current situation will make these feelings even bigger. If you are pregnant, your body and mind are changing to help a growing baby, on top of coping with living through a pandemic.

You may feel worried and disappointed about how Covid-19 might impact on maternity care and your birth plan, getting a vaccine, whether you’ll be able to introduce your new baby to everyone you might like to  or how you will get to meet other parents.

Any expectant parent may experience these worries and frustrations.

Think how you can look after yourselves and your baby. It’s not always possible, but try to keep a calm environment. Keep connected with your baby and reassure them through talking, touch and music.

If you need help, ask a professional like your midwife or health visitor.

Further support

The PAIRS team can provide one-to-one support via phone and video to families in four Lambeth wards: Coldharbour, Stockwell, Tulse Hill, and Vassall.

Contact the team to discuss your needs and what support can be offered.

Call 020 3228 6771 or email: PAIRS_Lambeth@slam.nhs.uk

A list of other support organisations and resources is available from our emotional wellbeing pages.  


Family Crisis Support Information

If your child has an urgent mental health crisis; please call Lambeth CAMHS 9-5pm on 02032287370, and speak to the duty worker. 

If you are experiencing any urgent mental health crisis, please contact your adult mental health team if you have one, or speak to your GP. 

Out of working hours, please contact the dedicated SLAM Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 731 2864 or NHS 111 to speak to the free NHS helpline.

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