Taking care of wee ones isn’t always easy and we all need help sometimes. The first year of a baby’s life is crucial, when their brain doubles in size. But, for many, the challenges of welcoming a new child into the family are exacerbated by the impact of living on a low income. 

Having a baby can be an expensive time - buying a pram, a cot, a car seat - the list goes on, and for many the household income also drops during maternity or parental leave or because of not being able to work. 

A recent report by Save the Children Scotland found that one in three families with a child under one are living in poverty.  We know that experiencing poverty has a negative impact on children and a low income can make it harder for parents and carers to meet their child’s needs. 

In recent months, supermarkets have added security tags to baby formula, an item that has become unaffordable for many who may have no other option to feed their baby. The first year of a child’s life brings many challenges for parents and carers. From getting babies to sleep to coping with crying, and it can be hard to manage those stresses without the additional worry of whether you can afford to buy formula, nappies, wipes or clothes for your wee one. 

If we want to provide every child with a fair start, we need to ensure that families can meet their child’s needs.  There is a great deal of anti-poverty work happening in Scotland and help available for families.  The Scottish Child Payment has been a lifeline for some, but too many are still lacking a safety net.  The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target of less than 10 per cent of children in Scotland living in relative poverty by 2030, but real action is needed to ensure we meet that target. 

Of course, poverty is about more than money and raising incomes. We also need to involve people with lived experience to identify the support and services they need.  

From our work at the NSPCC, we know it can be difficult for families to ask for help. Poverty can result in feelings of shame and stigma. Our research also shows that family support services have dramatically reduced in the last decade or so, so even if families ask for help, it may not be available or what they need.

The problems with a lack of family support have been identified by the Scottish Government, and work is being done to enhance services. We need to make sure this is poverty-informed so that parents get the help they need to give their wee ones the best start in life.

All of us can play an important role in challenging poverty - from considering the language we use, signposting to support systems or campaigning for change in our communities. 

If you are a parent of carer who needs help, speak with your Health Visitor, GP or call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. 

Carla Malseed is NSPCC Local Campaigns Manager