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Senedd Member voices concerns for ’emotional wellbeing’ of babies under lockdown

11 Mar 2021 3 minute read
Baby. Picture by Ben_Kerckx.

A Senedd Member has called for playgroups to reopen as soon as possible due to the “dramatic effect” lockdown has had on the emotional wellbeing of babies and toddlers.

Laura Anne Jones MS, who has a one-year-old child, said that infants and their mothers were missing out on essential social interaction.

Earlier, Anna Westall, Children in Wales had said that most attention had been given to what happens to school-age children during the pandemic, and there was a danger younger children were overlooked.

The Early Years Action Group also said more funding was needed and called for politicians to prioritise the needs of babies and toddlers aged two and under.

The Welsh Government announced last month that households with a baby under one could form a bubble with one other household, under a change to Wales’ lockdown regulations.

However, Laura Anne Jones said babies and small children were still not getting the development they needed.

Baby blues

“Babies and toddlers have and are missing out on so much vital social interaction because of lockdowns, and nurseries, playgroups, and parent and toddler groups, which do so much for so many, have really been forgotten about as the pandemic rolls on,” she said.

“As a mother of a one-year-old myself, I can empathise with parents and their concerns on the impact on their babies and toddlers and their social skills, and the difficulty of not having friends and family around you for support in those tough first years.

“It’s not just young children who are missing out, but their parents too. Restrictions on meeting up mean that the incredibly important support that, especially, new parents – particularly mothers – may need from family and friends has often not been there. A bit of FaceTime is no substitute for a hug from your mum or best friend if you have a dose of the baby blues, or more serious post-natal depression.

“It’s essential that playgroups open as soon as possible for the emotional wellbeing of our youngest people – and their parents.”

The Welsh Government said the reopening of children’s activities was subject to the first minister’s lockdown review, and any update would be announced in “due course”.

It said: “The welfare of children has been at the centre of our plans in responding to Covid-19. Childcare and play works settings, including Flying Start, have been open to all children since June 2020 and we recently confirmed arrangements for support bubbles for families of children under one.”

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