New parents urged to have their say on available early years support via new online questionnaire Image By Oksana AdobeStock_269043563

New parents, healthcare staff, charities and volunteer groups encouraged to share their views on the government’s existing early years support

New parents are being invited to have their say on what support they need, and how it is best delivered. The goal is to ensure that every baby is given the best start in life, no matter what their circumstances.

A new review into improving the healthy development of infants was launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in July. Its aim is to break down the barriers that can impact on early years development and level up the opportunities given to every newborn.

Led by Early Years Healthy Development Adviser Andrea Leadsom MP, the review will focus on improving the support available to babies and their families in the period from conception to age two, often referred to as the 1,001 critical days.

New parents, health service professionals, charities and volunteer groups are being asked to share their views to help shape the outcome of the review, by completing an online questionnaire which went live on GOV.UK yesterday (Friday 18 September). Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said:

“To help inform our work on the Early Years Development Review we want to hear from new or expectant parents, carers and healthcare professionals about their experiences of life with baby throughout this recent critical and unusual time living with coronavirus.

“What worked well and what could have been improved – so we can ensure babies and young children are supported and nurtured during these vital early years.

“Now is your chance to help shape this important piece of work, so please let us know your views through our online questionnaire so we can better understand what building blocks we need for those first critical 1,001 days.”

The first 1,001 days

The first 1,001 days – from conception to age two – provide the foundation for every human being. They have a significant impact on physical health, mental health and opportunity throughout their life. Early Years Healthy Development Adviser, Andrea Leadsom MP, said:

“As well as helping the review to shape the services needed by new babies and their parents, this questionnaire will help to gather experiences of parents who had a baby during the coronavirus lockdown.

“This will help us to understand the many challenges faced, as well as to learn what worked well and what new innovations we can build on. The findings of this questionnaire will help the review to shape our recommendations and to promote the best start in life for every baby.”

The review will focus on the needs of the baby from conception to the age of two. Seeking a broad improvement in outcomes, ranging from reducing disparities in birth weight, improving social and emotional development in early years, and reducing the impact of vulnerability and adverse childhood experiences in infancy.

  • Research from NHS England suggests that 1 in 5 mums and 1 in 10 dads experience mental health problems during pregnancy and after birth
  • Pregnancy can often be a trigger for domestic abuse, with between 15 to 30% of domestic violence cases starting during this time

As part of the next phase of the review, Andrea Leadsom MP will be engaging with a wide range of stakeholders. Including independent academic experts, maternity and children’s specialists, leading commissioners, service providers and volunteers, and parliamentarians.

The ‘vision for excellence’ in the period from conception to age two will be rolled out across England during 2021. To take part in the questionaire, visit Early years healthy development review: call for evidence.