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The Impact of Isolation and Social Distancing on Babies and Children - Online interaction

Online communication tools are currently the ‘new normal’ worldwide, and although they cannot replace physical interactions with others, they can offer multiple benefits:

⭐ Online baby/toddler classes

Baby Sensory, Hello Baby, and Toddler Sense programmes facilitate learning and development at home, provide useful information for adults, one-to-one interactive activities, creative ideas, top tips, and exclusive Facebook groups where parents can share ideas and experiences, and ask questions if they have concerns. Online baby/toddler classes also provide a wealth of activities which can be introduced at home to keep your baby or child busy and happy.

⭐ Online catch up

An online catch up with family and friends is a wonderful way to help your baby or child stay in touch with grandparents, aunties, uncles, and friends. Simply seeing Grandma’s familiar face online and hearing her voice will strengthen bonds, and provide a sense of security. A cube (tissue box) with photos glued on each face or looking through the family photograph album together will also provide reassurance that loved ones still exist in your baby’s or child’s life.

An online catch up with friends from your child’s childcare setting can help strengthen friendships. There are plenty of activities that can be enjoyed together, which might include:

⭐ Scavenger hunts
⭐ Show and tells
⭐ Children’s quizzes
⭐ A disco
⭐ Games and songs (‘Simon Says’, ‘Head, Shoulder’s Knees and Toes’, ‘Musical Bumps’, ‘Musical Statues’)

A reassuring online two-way chat with your child’s keyworker or childminder can also foster bonds and provide emotional security, even if it is at a distance.

Cuddle time

Most important of all is close physical contact with you. A loving cuddle releases oxytocin, the ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone, which helps your baby or child feel warm, safe, secure, and loved. 

The effect of touch is extremely powerful. Numerous studies have found that babies who are given plenty of close, physical contact gain weight faster, have stronger immune systems, sleep more soundly, and cry less.

Cuddles and physical touch also positively influence growth, learning, and development. Children who are given plenty of physical affection show less solitary play, more task-oriented play, and less aggressive behaviour when they go to school.

Close physical contact positively develops the brain, enhances bonding and relationships, reduces stress, and provides the love and security that all babies and children need for healthy growth and development.


Parents need to look after their own mental health and avoid putting too much pressure on themselves during these unprecedented times. Instead, focus on the positives that lockdown can provide for themselves and their family.

Due to the lack of case studies, it is impossible to know what effect (if any), social isolation might have on your baby’s or child’s development. But what we do know is that a nurturing, caring home provides the emotional security that all babies and children need to thrive and grow. A regular routine that includes opportunities for exercise, activities, and communication with family and friends via technology, can make all the difference to their social and emotional wellbeing.

What babies and children thrive on more than anything, is warm, loving, physical contact with the parent or their main care-giver.

For more information of the effects of social distancing take a look at the top tips on 

routine and social skills

For a downloadable copy of this article please click here.

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