A North East-based childcare expert believes that young children’s development has been compromised just as much school aged children during lockdown.

Alice McCullagh, director at Rosedene, a childcare provider which operates 11 nurseries across Tees Valley and North Yorkshire, believes the recent focus on the educational deprivation of older children, as the re-opening of schools was debated, has unfairly overshadowed the impact on babies and toddlers.

Alice said: “Children benefit from mixing with others outside the home from a young age and lockdown has compromised this key part of their development and socialisation.

“The spotlight has been on school age children, but for babies and toddlers to thrive it is important they start to learn life skills albeit in an age appropriate fun way.

“It seems to have been forgotten how integral early socialisation is to a child’s future success and wellbeing and how vital a part nurseries can play in this.

“New mums, who have been stuck at home, may be concerned about their baby’s ability to interact with others and the possibility of separation anxiety. Getting their babies involved in activities in the supportive setting of a nursery can help make the transition easier.”

Recent figures from the government have shown that millions of employees are back working after having been furloughed, which is likely to trigger a need for childcare outside the home.

According to the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs, the number of employments furloughed peaked at 8.9 million on May 8, then reduced to 6.8 million by June 30.

Some parents may have lost their jobs as financial reality begins for bite for some firms as the government’s job retention scheme winds down.

High quality childcare for babies goes beyond being a safe and secure place, it provides children with nurturing relationships and stimulating environments which scaffolds babies development from an early age. Attending a nursery setting from an early age will help children gain confidence and social skills, even from a very early age babies can form relationships with both staff and other children.

Lisa Murphy, one of Rosedene’s Nursery Manager describes the baby experience, “Care for babies is incredibly specialist, as the ratio of staff to children is much smaller – one member of staff to three children – at Rosedene we work around the babies individual needs and routines so they can sleep whenever is best for them in a comforting ‘home from home’ environment.”

With more parents returning to work from furlough, the need for nursery care for babies has increased, with Rosedene observing an increase in baby places from 16 to 28 in last 12 months in its Northallerton nursery.

Alice McCullagh said: “Mums and dads are starting to return to the workplace and, as a result, we’ve seen an increase in the number of places requested for babies from six weeks to 18 months old.

“We’ve observed that the babies in our care have developed quickly in terms of their social skills and have found it easier to form routines than children who’ve joined us later. This not only benefits the child, but also makes life easier for working parents.

“At a time when there is a lot of focus on getting people back to work, we’re delighted to be able to offer caring and beneficial support to parents returning to the workplace.”

Robyn Lowrie, a Rosedene parent, said: “I would like to thank Rosedene and all its amazing staff for the wonderful care and love that they have given Leo in nursey. He has grown to be a beautiful little boy and I feel that the team has a massive part in this.

“He loves attending and is very excited to get in the car and runs in every day. I honestly can’t rate them higher.”

For further information, contact booking@rosedenenurseries.co.uk.