Smart Living | Digital Parenting

Digital Parenting | 03 Jun 2024

Help is at hand: A guide to free support for new parents

Having a new baby can be isolating, expensive and bewildering. Following distressing stories of new parents watering down baby formula to save money, we explore the diverse range of financial, technical and emotional support available to families beyond the health visitor.

According to the NHS, around one in four women experience mental health problems during pregnancy and the 24 months after giving birth. Meanwhile, a study suggests that the number of parents getting into debt to cover childcare costs rose by a third during 2023.

From fixing your finances to dealing with baby blues, or simply figuring out how to fold that blasted buggy, new parenthood can feel like a series of juggling acts. So much so, in fact, that parents in Jersey have now been asked to contribute their experiences, tips and favourite support system to a new guide book, which will help others on the island navigate the wild and wonderful world of parenthood for the first time.

Here’s how you can find support, when you need a helping hand.

Free parenting advice

Parent Talk, Action for Children’s online advice hub, offers clear, practical advice. Articles cover common parenting questions around issues such as potty training and emotional wellbeing. If your problem isn’t tackled, you can use the charity’s live chat service to speak to a qualified parenting coach. It costs nothing and – they promise – no topic is too big or too small.

Sharenting: How sharing too much online could put your kids in danger

Oversharing can have unintended consequences, but avoiding such grief needn’t be a family drama. Here's what you need to know.

Financial help for new parents

Bounty is a parenting club with 2.5 million members. Download the app and you’ll get free articles and advice, as well as useful tools like a hospital appointment schedule to keep you organised. Perhaps most usefully of all, you also get reams of free vouchers and discounts on baby products.

New parents in the UK are entitled to several benefits. Throughout your pregnancy and your baby’s first year of life, all your NHS prescriptions and dental care should be free. Once you’ve registered the birth, you can also start claiming monthly child benefit (£25.60 for your first child, £16.95 for subsequent sprogs).

You may also be entitled to a Sure Start maternity grant of £500 to help towards the costs of having a baby or, if you’re in Scotland, a one-off Pregnancy and Baby Payment instead. To find out exactly what you can claim under your current circumstances, use the free online benefits calculator at Entitled To.

Cost of living: How to build your pension despite rising costs

With all of the ongoing financial turmoil, what should you be doing about your pension? We ask the experts for advice on saving when you're young, and in later years.

Mental health support for new parents

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) charity is there for all UK families struggling with their mental health during and after pregnancy. On their website, you’ll find guidance on what to do if you are worried about your own wellbeing or someone else’s.

There are tips on how to look after yourself and links to support you can access, whether that’s in-person, online or over the phone. Through their partnership with Netmums, you can even enter your postcode and find support groups, courses and classes nearby.

How to find your ‘tribe’

Sometimes, what you really need more than anything else is a cup of tea (one that hasn’t gone cold), a slice of cake and a natter with someone who’s going through similar stuff. That’s where the support of other parents is vital. But, if your friends are in a different phase of life, then finding a new parental ‘tribe’ can seem daunting.

The doctor will stream you now: The pros and cons of mental health online

The coronavirus pandemic has led to many people getting mental health treatment entirely online, but there are both advantages and drawbacks to this approach.

Step one: download Peanut. It’s an app for women who want to find others who, like them, are navigating their way through fertility, pregnancy or motherhood. You can find women in your local area, then get to know them using the chat function or a video call. You can join groups, search for advice or join live audio conversations hosted by experts. All without leaving the sofa.

For single parents, the national Gingerbread charity offers a wealth of support and advice. Gingerbread’s online information pages, webchat and helplines are a great source of expert guidance. You can also meet other single parents, either through the online forum or local groups.

Stay up to date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter/X, as well as signing up for News Centre website notifications.