Former Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom, who is leading the project, said many parents were isolated during lockdown and found technology a lifeline. “One of the things we are looking at in the project is potentially using dating app technology. That could be a really great way to connect, perhaps on zoom at the moment, or in future, to be able to network and find other parents and start your own voluntary group,” she said.
Mrs Leadsom said the pandemic had left lots of parents with new babies isolated and when the restrictions eased it was “quite traumatic” for some newborns because they were not used to the noise of normal life.
Although parents want baby friendly places to go, such as breastfeeding cafes, the technological changes that took place during lockdown should continue, the MP said.
“Lockdown is, inadvertently, quite a social experiment because we don’t actually know the extent to which some babies will be extremely isolated,” she said.
“We will only know in the fullness of time what the real impact is on new babies and their parents.
“The silver lining, what people are saying is they have found that digital and virtual has actually been really helpful.
“I would like to see more done to recognise that being stuck at home with a newborn baby, even with a loving partner, if the partner is trying work and the baby is crying and you are in a small flat and you are not allowed to go out and see another human being, that’s torment.
“I would say we could do more to allow bubbles of new parents to join up.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson commissioned the early years review to help young children thrive.
Experts believe the first 1,000 days of childhood are critical for development.
Sue Kaczanow, 40, from Okehampton, Devon, whose son Lewis, 2, has difficulty speaking and may have autism, has been linking up virtually with a children’s centre during the pandemic.
She said that face to face meetings are the best way to interact with other parents but online contact is “very, very good” when that is not possible.
“I don’t know what I would have done without the group,” she said. “They have sent sensory toys through the post to try and help Lewis communicate with his speech and language delay.
“It’s also the moral support for me as a mum.”