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A Third of New Parents Feel Lonely in a Hyper-Connected World

mother with her newborn baby

The Parenting Index, a first-of-its-kind study into global parenting experiences, reveals that a third of new parents globally feel lonely, despite  living in a hyper-connected world.

The study, commissioned by Nestlé as part of its ongoing commitment to support families in the first 1,000 days of life – identifies for the first time eight universal factors1that impact parenting across the world. It is another aspect of the Nestlé Parenting Initiative – a strategy of change the company is developing to help make parents’ lives easier.

Based on the views of over 8,000 moms and dads in 16 countries, it is a unique new way of benchmarking and understanding the experiences of parents across the world today.

In this first edition, it shows that the most significant universal factor is pressure. It is something new parents have little control over but has the biggest impact: contributing 23% of the overall  Parenting Index score.  

In every country surveyed, new parents feel some form of internal and external pressure. For a  third of new parents, this materialises as loneliness but pressure also shows up as judgement from others (including via social media), the unexpected realities of parenting and guilt caused by self-criticism. 

  • Loneliness in a hyper-connected world: 32% of new parents say that, despite living in a world where friends and family are only a text away, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely.
  • Social shaming: globally half (51%) of new parents surveyed feel intense social pressure on how to raise their children, and today this often comes from social media. 
  • Parenting guilt: 45% surveyed agreed new parents take on a lot of guilt, which can have  a long-lasting impact.
  • The unexpected realities of parenthood: nearly a third (31%) report feeling unprepared for the realities of becoming a parent, and 53% had to make more compromises than expected.
  • Unsolicited advice, or the “voice of the village”: 60% of respondents report feeling everyone has a view on how to raise their child, whether they want to hear it or not. 

Societal pressure eased during COVID-19

While new parents might be expected to feel more pressure as a result of COVID-19, analysis looking at the U.S., Spain and China when the pandemic first hit in July 2020, shows parents with young babies reported feeling less societal pressure on how to raise their children during this period. Instead, new parents reported feeling more mutual support at this time – including increased social cohesion and a sense of belonging.  

Thierry Philardeau, Head of Nestlé Nutrition, said: “We founded the Nestlé Parenting Initiative to help make parents’ lives easier – so that we can better support them in the decisions they make during the first crucial 1,000 days of their child’s life. And in doing so, we can strengthen our 2016 commitment to help 50 million children lead healthier and happier lives by 2030. The Parenting Index is an important first step in enriching our understanding of the complexities of parenting today – and what can be done to help.

When a child is born, so is a parent. And we know that for all its joys, parenting is not always easy. We believe all moms and dads should feel informed, respected and supported with the choices they make for both themselves and their babies. Through The Parenting Index, we can create a roadmap for change and, for the first time, measure it – today and in the years to come.  We have already started this journey by updating our global Parenting Support Policy and expanding Nestlé Baby & me – our educational online service for moms and dads – to ensure we are addressing the findings of our study and providing broader support for parents. But we cannot create measurable change alone, we must collaborate and work together. We are calling on those  who share in our vision to join us in making this world an easier place to be a parent and raise  healthier happier future generations.”

Nestlé will be commissioning The Parenting Index every two to three years, in order to reflect and chart the landscape of the parenting experience. As part of its goal to work together with others to help make parents’ lives easier, Nestlé also plans to collaborate with like-minded partners and host roundtable discussions to establish an actionable roadmap on how to address the universal challenges of 21st-century parenting as revealed by the Index insights.

Available resources for parents 

In an effort to better support and understand today’s parents, Nestlé Baby & me is committed to making parenthood an enriching journey by keeping parents informed and connected through a wealth of easily-accessible resources to impart 150 years of science-backed knowledge to parents on their parenting journey. The Nestlé Baby & me Singapore’s official website offers a wide variety of tools and articles – including recommendations from industry experts and nutritional recipes to guide parents on their journey. The Parenting Support page provides resources and tips to address the common and pressing concerns that parents face today. Parents with young children can also join the Nestlé Baby Club – a dedicated community where parents can share their parenting ideas and nutrition tips with other parents on the same parenting journey.

The Parenting Index is another strand in the Nestlé Parenting Initiative – a strategy of change the company is developing to help make parents’ lives easier. For more information about The Parenting Index, please visit www.theparentingindex.com

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Katherine Sng

Katherine Sng

I am a single mother living in Singapore. I am an advocate of living a healthy lifestyle through exercise; eating right; keeping a positive and youthful outlook of life; and, to live vicariously while you can. When not spending time watching Bubba grow, I am catching up on the latest news and entertainment gossip. I strongly believe that empowerment is possible for anyone, as long as they believe in themselves and the people around them.

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