Having a baby, adjusting to life as a new parent and parenting young children can be incredibly exciting and rewarding - but at times it can also be a very challenging experience.
If you're finding things tough at the moment, reaching out to local organisations who can help and connecting with other local parents for support, reassurance and advice can make a big difference. If you're feeling isolated, it's important to remember that you're not alone - on this page you can find organisations that can help you.
If your young child's behaviour is particularly challenging at the moment, take a look at our guide to challenging behaviour to find information and tips that can make things better.
Be kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself that you are doing your best, even if you wish you might have handled something differently that day.
Babies, young children and mental health
Babies develop rapidly in their first years, creating the foundations that can support mental health and wellbeing throughout their life. They are born seeking relationship and closeness with their parents or primary carers. Loving, safe and responsive relationships act as the basis for a sense of self-worth, confidence and trust in the world. So when things are tough, as they inevitably will be sometimes, remember how much you're doing every time you simply cuddle, smile at or talk to your baby or toddler.
Babies and young children can have very different needs, and sometimes these can make parenting, and your relationship with your child, more challenging. For all sorts of reasons, some babies and toddlers will struggle with things like sleep, feeding, digestive problems, toilet training or challenging behaviour.
How you're feeling as a parent can also affect how you feel about your relationship with your child, particularly if you're struggling with your own mental health. This is something lots of parents go through during pregnancy, after their baby is born or later in their child's life. When this is happening, things can feel incredibly difficult or overwhelming - and it's important to reach out for help using the links at the bottom of this page.
You can find lots of information and advice about issues babies and toddlers might struggle with, as well as parent mental health, on the NCT website.
My favourite phrase when things are tough is: this too shall pass.
Connecting with other parents and local support
Many people with babies and young children find it helpful to reach out to other parents so they can talk through how they have handled difficult situations and get some support. This can be invaluable if you're feeling isolated as a parent - and sometimes you just need people around you who know what you're going through.
Lots of local areas run things like drop-ins, baby cafes, parent groups or courses, and activities for babies and toddlers. You can often find these by searching your local council's website, or using a search engine.
You may also be able to connect with other parents by:
- using the Charlie Waller Trust directory to see if there’s a local parent support group in your area
- accessing peer and group parent support through Parenting Mental Health
- joining Facebook or other online groups such as Netmums
- setting up your own parent support group using our guide
If you think your child may be struggling with a developmental issue such as a disability or hearing problems, or a physical health issue such as a food intolerance or sensitivity, speak to your health visitor or a GP to get advice. They can refer your child for an assessment or additional support if needed.
Talk to other parents and carers and join support groups – parents and carers whose children have been in similar situations are an enormous source of support and knowledge.
As parents, we often (innocently and with the best of intentions) place taking care of ourselves at the bottom of the list of priorities. With our to-do lists multiplying overnight, that much-needed ‘me time’ inevitably starts to slip further down the list. But looking after our own wellbeing and self-care is so important.
Where can I find help?
Useful helplines and websites
While we take care to ensure that the organisations we signpost to provide high quality information and advice, we cannot take responsibility for any specific pieces of advice they may offer. We encourage parents and carers to always explore the website of a linked service or organisation to understand who they are and what support they offer before engaging with them.
Practical and emotional support for all areas of pregnancy, birth and the first two years of your child's life.
You can join an NCT group during pregnancy to connect with other local parents and get information and advice about child birth and the first few weeks.
You can also use their infant feeding line to get advice about anything to do with feeding your baby.
- Opening times:
- Every day, 8am - midnight, including bank holidays
National Breastfeeding Helpline
Friendly, non-judgemental and evidence based breastfeeding support and information for anyone who needs it. Support is available in English, Welsh, Polish, Bengali and Sylheti, and for people who have hearing or speech impairments.
For support in Bengali or Sylheti, call a separate number on 0300 456 2421.
Webchat service also available.
- Opening times:
- 9.30am - 9.30pm, every day of the year
Your local Home-Start can provide support such as home visits, local family groups, social events and help to access other services. Search for your local Home-Start and their contact details.
Support for parents with a child who is struggling with sleep, including sleep counselling and a sleep support line. Contact them by email to book a phone appointment with a sleep advisor.
- Opening times:
- 10am - 4pm, Monday to Thursday
Emotional support for any parent experiencing pre or post natal depression, or another mental health issue such as anxiety, during or after a pregnancy or birth.
As well as using their helpline, you may be able to find a local support group.
- Opening times:
- Every day, 11am - 10pm
Support for single parents in England and Wales including advice and information on child support, benefits, tax credits and your child’s contact with their other parent.
- Opening times:
- Mon 10am-6pm, Tues, Thurs & Fri 10am-4pm, Wed: 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm
Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.
Please be aware that this form isn’t a mental health support service. If your child is in crisis right now and you want to talk to someone urgently, find out who to contact on our urgent help page.