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So worried about my baby’s development

(33 Posts)
crispyy Thu 11-Feb-21 10:00:57

I have a nine month old baby who was born during the first lockdown. I was only saying yesterday to my mum that I’m grateful he’s so young because he doesn’t really have a clue what’s going on or know that he’s missing out - and that it must be much harder for children who are a bit older.

However, I’ve just been reading a thread on the coronavirus board about how the first three years of a child’s life are critical to their development and that lockdown is going to really affect young children, even babies.

Well, my baby has barely had any interaction with other people since birth - he’s seen members of his family a handful of times when allowed, and we managed to get to about four or five baby group sessions in total. He doesn’t observe me or his dad interacting with other people much because we haven’t seen anyone.

I’m terrified that this could have really affected his development and that he’s going to struggle with socialising and social skills growing up.

I’m reluctant to put him in nursery or with a childminder, first and foremost because we really can’t afford it and secondly because I’m concerned about him catching Covid.

Is there anything I can do? sad

OP’s posts: |
Ohalrightthen Thu 11-Feb-21 16:32:01

In the first year, the most important relationship for your baby is with primary carers, so you and their dad. If those relationships are solid and stimulating, your baby will be fine.

AIMD Thu 11-Feb-21 16:34:35


In the first year, the most important relationship for your baby is with primary carers, so you and their dad. If those relationships are solid and stimulating, your baby will be fine.

I agree with this.

Unless you have witnessed something specific about your own child’s development you are concerned about I would try not to worry ( easier said than done).

If you want reassurance maybe check in with your hv about your child’s development.

user1471465987 Thu 11-Feb-21 19:15:46

I do agree that parents are most important but has there been an experiment on a whole cohort on this scale where thry have had pretty much NO interaction with anyone else in real life?

I see how much my 11 month year old comes on during the handful of times he has seen his grandparents, and on the couple of occaisons he has seen another baby... It takes a village and all that...

SillyOldMummy Thu 11-Feb-21 19:26:36

I am not a childcare expert but from what I've read and experienced, under 2 years, it doesnt make a huge difference although obviously it's better to have more relationships than fewer, the most important thing is having high quality relationship and attachment with the key people in their life (usually mum and dad and siblings).

Yes, it will be harder for your baby to be alone with strangers when lockdown ends - realistically it will cause some distress if you suddenly decide to get babysitters or leave the baby with gran or grandad for a few hours. You'll have to work up to it (there are some especially clingy phases with small children so timing may be lucky or unfortunate depending).

My son was born Jan 2019, and so he was about 14 months when lockdown started. He did develop some surprising stand-offish behaviours around unfamiliar people, but actually in the summer time when lockdown eased he very, very quickly overcame his shyness.

Children are incredibly adaptable, and right now the best thing you can do is be a happy, engaged parent for your little one, make the most of being able to form a childcare bubble for under 1s, and meet up with another mum for a walk with their baby - running around with another child in a park or play area for 15 mins is plenty of interaction for now.

Please don't worry too much.

Lolalovesmarmite Thu 11-Feb-21 20:39:52

Please don’t worry. I have a 9 month old and a nearly 3 year old and the 9 month old is exactly the same as his older sister was at that age. He’s gone through a bit of separation anxiety, the same as she did, but he is much happier going to my husband than my daughter was and I have no concerns about his development at all. At this age the most important relationship is with you and actually lockdown will have helped him form a really close and secure bond with his primary carer, which is a hugely positive thing. He’ll be watching you interact with your husband/partner and listening to you speak on the phone or FaceTime and all that will help.

Bourbonbiccy Thu 11-Feb-21 20:43:30

I agree you really should try not to worry, at that age their most important interactions are between baby and primary carers.

They don't really play together at that age until older, they play alongside each other before playing together. So as such a young age, please don't worry thanksthanks

firstimemamma Thu 11-Feb-21 20:49:02

Please don't worry op. I used to teach early years and have a good knowledge of child development. It's when they hit toddlerhood that socialisation with other children starts to become crucial. A baby is absolutely fine with just you and a few other close adults. My baby was born before Covid and spent pretty much the first year of his life napping in my arms and he's a very happy and well adjusted toddler now (only because we are giving him play dates wherever possible). Please relax and enjoy your baby. thanks

Aquamarine1029 Thu 11-Feb-21 20:50:35

However, I’ve just been reading a thread on the coronavirus board about how the first three years of a child’s life are critical to their development and that lockdown is going to really affect young children, even babies.

What a bunch of alarmist rubbish. Yes, the first three years are critical, but babies can get all the attention and socialisation they need from their parents. Read to him, talk to him loads, sing, dance, play, and model good behaviour. Your baby will be just fine.

HelloThereMeHearties Thu 11-Feb-21 20:52:44

I really don't think it's that bad. For centuries we lived in small homes with only family around. Humans did OK!

There wasn't TV, or radio, or anything, and certainly not any baby classes etc. And babies probably only saw their immediate family.

RobynNora Thu 11-Feb-21 20:53:04

Is your partner WFH? If so, think about all the extra hours the baby is spending with a primary caregiver. Maybe this cohort will turn out to be even more socially advanced because of this.

If not? Well, all our babies will be in exactly the same position so won’t lag at school etc because of this.

user1471465987 Thu 11-Feb-21 21:16:30

I don't think we should be alarmsist, but it is something not just to dismiss. Several of these posts above talk about: a few other close adults; living in small houses with just family (but presumably havin neighbours and being able to see others regularly and also increased multigenerational living so bigger families); and also having lockdown down babies living with siblings.

Having a first baby with no other siblings, living in part of the country with no bubbles for under 1s, and having only been able to meet outdoors since Autumn I really feel has made a difference.

I have been lucky and have met mums outdoors for a walk but I do feel that babies are just dismissed as only needing primary caregivers, when in normal circumstances it's not the case that that is ALL they have.

This cohort are not getting the benefits of parallel play, copying other children and even seeing their caregivers interact with their family. I realised that I could count on 2 hands the number of times we had waved someone goodbye by the time my wee one was 4 months.

I am hopeful they will all be ok in the end and i do do my best of course, but as everyone says, it takes a village to raise a child and there comes a point where you can see where kids miss out.

CrocodileFondue Fri 12-Feb-21 13:51:14

The primary carer bond is the most important for the first year at least, baby groups are more for the parents tbh.

It's the three and four year olds that really need to be learning to socialise properly, it's very tough for them.

user1471465987 Fri 12-Feb-21 14:27:36

Do you have proof that we are not doing themharm by ONLY giving them contact with parents? Just because parents are most important does not negate thebimportance of others. Not being goady but am unaware of any other time whereby babies have had NO contact with others growing up, so rather interested in how people are drawing comclusions that no harm is being done. I think it risky to underestimate the benefits of parallel play and just even observing other babies.

RobynNora Fri 12-Feb-21 14:35:29

@user1471465987 Don’t know about other respondents but I was trying to reassure OP because she sounds really worried.

I’m worried for my baby too but there’s not loads we can do short of putting them into nursery part time like people are discussing on other threads. I’m trying to be positive and optimistic in a difficult time, but you’re right nobody knows either way. Did you see the BBC article about this very subject today?

user1471465987 Fri 12-Feb-21 15:17:01

Ach wrote a long reply and lost it.
I didn't meant to be alamist and worry the OP more, but I did want to validate her fears. I feel that on many threads here the placating phrases, "they only need you" and "baby groups are just for parents" are thrown about too often and often by people who have not been in this enforced situation. This has just made me feel shittier at times. Yes, at 4 months mine had no concept, but at 7 months he loved pointing at the babies at baby yoga and waving to the instructor, and trying to copy the 11months olds at crawling... Copying me crawling isn't so much fun😂😂. Now he is 11 months he would really benefit from a baby to play alongside and copy. Anyway OP if you are still here, i do think that our babies will be ok in the end, especially if we take every opportunity to meet up with other children wheb we can. We should also stand up for our infants and young toddlers too though. They have been forgotten about a bit and we should let the gvt know this, so they can try and minimise the risk of harm to them, rather than just assume resilience.

I will have a look at the bbc article. I forsee some interesting research opportunities here for child psychologists in the coming years!

crispyy Fri 12-Feb-21 15:49:34

Thanks for the comments everyone.

When I took my DS to baby groups he was probably about 4-6 months old and didn't seem to get much out of it at all - he barely noticed the other babies or mums and was just engrossed in playing with a toy I'd brought along. To be honest I felt like we might as well have been anywhere.

Now he's a bit older though I do feel he's noticing a lot more of the world around him, so baby groups probably would now be beneficial!

OP’s posts: |
user1471465987 Fri 12-Feb-21 16:39:21

I don't know where you are, but in scotland we have the scottish buggy club wherr we can meet outdoors in larger groups with our babies. You need a sign and there is still social distancing, but at least the babies can see each other. Maybe something similar where you are?

larktreebird Fri 12-Feb-21 16:41:56

I agree with user1471465987

I think mn errs towards the overall view that babies will be happy in their mums arms for at least a year and it really isn’t the case.

DisgruntledPelican Fri 12-Feb-21 16:51:03

I didn't meant to be alamist and worry the OP more, but I did want to validate her fears. I feel that on many threads here the placating phrases, "they only need you" and "baby groups are just for parents" are thrown about too often and often by people who have not been in this enforced situation

This. Broadly I agree that babies and toddlers will come out the other side of this OK, but there must be some impact, even if short term. On the few occasions I’ve managed to meet up with friends with babies, 12 month old DS has been loads happier, more vocal, more entertained by the sight and stimulation of other people. He sat and stared at another baby at the immunisations clinic for about 5 minutes the other week, and was very interested watching them toddle around. In normal times I’d like to think we’d have been at baby groups quite frequently, and he would be at nursery two days a week.

And yeah, even if baby groups are just for parents, I needed that too. It was fucking lonely last spring, even in the nice weather, with a three month old. The days lasted forever.

girlrunningoncheese Fri 12-Feb-21 19:50:08

My DD is 9mo too, OP, and I completely understand why you're worried. She's turning into a very funny and chatty little thing, and I do wish we'd been able to play with the other babies in my NCT group. As it is, when I go for 1+1 walks with other mum friends, she mostly ignores the other babies. Which is probably normal but who knows?!

I'm going to put her in nursery for a few hours a week, a couple of months earlier than planned.
However, I appreciate that this might not be an option for you - for us, it's an opportunity to get her settled before I go back to work as well as extra socialisation.

Ultimately I think children are remarkably adaptable and they will be totally fine. But that doesn't take away from how you and I would have imagined our babies' first year of life,

PlantDoctor Fri 12-Feb-21 19:51:29

I'm making sure I take 14mo DD to the park regularly. She's absolutely fascinated by other kids and tries to drag me over to them (she can't walk without holding my hand yet). I wasn't particularly worried about the effect of lockdown when she was really little but I've read that interacting with other kids is important as they move towards 18m/2 years. Also agree completely with the above poster who said that, while people say kids only need primary caregivers at first, this sort of complete isolation has rarely been seen before. Others will have been to playgroups or library book readings or met friends and their children for coffee even if they hadn't put baby in nursery. It's a big concern for me and a lot of other parents of toddlers.

girlrunningoncheese Fri 12-Feb-21 19:54:27

Posted too soon!
You'll be fine and he'll be fine! You're doing a grand job in shitty circumstances. It's also very fine to be worried and fret about it!

Oh also, we have no support bubble because we live hundreds of miles from our families. So DD really has minimal contact with anyone but me and her dad. So I do understand where you're coming from!

User0ne Fri 12-Feb-21 20:02:25

Key stages for social development (outside the primary caregivers) start around 18m.

However the brain in incredibly plastic; ie they can learn those are skills later. So no need to panic about your baby. And if you have a 2-4 year old they are unlikely to be damaged by it in the medium term.

Qualifications: I have a psychology MSc and work with children.

My advice to you is to relax and spend as much time with your child as you can.

worriedmomtobe1 Fri 12-Feb-21 20:25:06

My daughter is 15 months and she doesnt speak anything apart from saying mama randomly (not to me) which she did since she was 12 months. No other word has been added and i worry about this speech delay. During covid there's hardly any interaction she only sees my husband and i and she's our first born.
People tell you the first years are key to development and with the current situation we dont take her out much and she doesnt really see anyone.our families are in another country and friends we are not meeting.
Health visitor said try daycare half days or so but my husband feels it's really unsafe at the moment.
To add she walks since she was 12 months so fine that way but behaviour and speech worries me. She doesn't point at things nor really looks when i point. Then again mayb she needs a new scene around her to b interested to look at...any help advice appreciated thank you!!

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