Peer pressure and conflicting advice creates a year of baby blues for new parents

Article date: 13 August 2009

  • 2,007 nappy changes + 1,789 feeds + 280 loads of washing = first year of parenthood

Conflicting advice and peer pressure leaves new parents spending the first year feeling confused and isolated, according to a new study.

Two thirds (66%)* of new parents worry they are not looking after their baby properly – and more than four in five (82%) say conflicting advice from family, books and websites only makes life harder.

Aviva’s UK Life business, who recently launched free life insurance for new parents**, commissioned the ‘0 to 12 months study’ to investigate the impact of the first year after birth on the lives of new parents. The study found that the pressures and strains of this busy time can often lead to couples forgetting to take out life insurance, leaving their young families potentially unprotected.*** 

The study reveals a lack of confidence among new mums, with over half (56%) worrying they don’t appear as confident as other parents, while others (45%) worry their partners don’t think they are coping.

New parents also wilt under the watchful eyes of their mothers-in-law, with six in ten (60%) struggling when she corrects their mistakes.

An average of just six hours sleep per night adds to the exhaustion of an endless cycle of baby tasks in the first year that sees new parents:

  • change 2,007 nappies
  • feed the baby 1,789 times
  • and do 280 loads of washing

Just 14% manage to spend quality time with their partner each day and the strain takes it toll with the average couple arguing an average six times per month. All those nappies and washing machine loads also have an impact on intimate relations, with nearly a third (29%) of parents having sex less than once a month in the first year and two thirds (62%) falling asleep at least once during the day due to exhaustion.

Seven in ten (70%) new mums feel isolated being home alone, with over half (51%) thinking any visitors are only there to see the baby. In fact, 57% worry that their partner and friends now find them boring.

For six in ten new parents, however it’s financial fears and a reduced household income that make the first year so hard.

Louise Colley, head of protection products for Aviva, said: “The arrival of a new baby signals a complete change in lifestyle and, while the first year of a new baby’s life is one of the most special, it’s also one of the toughest times for parents.

“Friends and family are well-meaning with their advice, but it seems that sometimes this adds to the pressure and leaves new mums and dads suffering a crisis of confidence.”

To support new families, Aviva is offering free life cover of £10,000 to new parents in the UK who register before their baby is six months old, to run until the child’s first birthday. Although the offer is a fraction of the cover a family needs, it recognises that new parents do not always consider, or have the time to purchase, family protection when they have a young baby.

Louise Colley adds: “I’m delighted that we’re able to take away one concern new parents may have by offering the reassurance of free life cover. Anyone, like me, who is a parent knows only too well that the first 12 months can be really tough, as well as incredibly rewarding. We’re going the extra mile with this free cover because we believe it’s absolutely essential that new parents consider how they best protect their new family.” 

The Aviva UK ‘0 to 12 months’ study also reveals that:

  • Four in five (81%) new parents say holding their baby for the first time was the best moment of the first year
  • Two in five (41%) buy parenting guide books
  • Almost a quarter (23%) bought the latest baby gadgets – and then never used them
  • Over half (53%) did not manage a night out with friends in the first year

In their baby’s first year, how many times do new parents typically?:

 

WEEKLY

ANNUALLY

Change a nappy

38.5

2007

Feed the baby

34

1789

Sterilise bottles

20

1022

Load the washing machine

5

280

Fall asleep during day

2

94

In their baby’s first year, how many hours do new parents spend per week?:

 

Age of babies

 

0-3

3-6

6-9

9-12

Per year

Outside the house

20.5

20.8

24

24.7

1170

Feeding the baby

17

13

13

11

712

Bathing the baby

4

4

4

4

213

Attending parent and baby groups

1.4

1.5

2.5

1.5

88

In adult company

20.7

17.5

19.6

17.3

1076

Hours of sleep

5.7

6

6.3

6.4

2226

Parent’s relationship in first year

In the first year, how often every month do new parents argue?

 

%

Every Day

8%

A few times a week, but not daily

21%

About once a week

18%

2 or 3 times a month

18%

Once per month

14%

Less frequently than this

22%

Average per month

6

Total arguments in first year

 

71

In the first year, how often do new parents have sex?

 

%

Every Day

6%

A few times a week, but not daily

22%

About once a week

23%

2 or 3 times a month

20%

Once per month

11%

Less frequently than this

19%

Average

6

Total times in the first year

67

In the first year, how often do parents spend time together doing non baby related things (eg  non baby conversation, going out etc)

 

%

Every Day

14%

A few times a week, but not daily

23%

About once a week

13%

2 or 3 times a month

11%

Once per month

15%

Less frequently than this

24%

Average per month

7.5

What new parents find hardest about the first year of their baby’s lives:

 

Mums (%)

Dads(%)

Sleep deprivation

75

69

Financial worries

59

56

Constant mess at home

54

44

Change of routine

43

49

Not having time for yourself

43

34

Spending more time at home

28

26

Pressure from family & friends knowing better

25

20

Best moments for parents in first year of their baby’s lives:

 

Mums (%)

Dads(%)

Holding your baby in your arms for the first time

85

75

The first time your baby smiled at you

82

76

Arriving home with your baby to a welcome from friends / family

44

47

The first time your baby sat up by themselves

43

42

Go on holiday

76

75

Meeting new friends who are also parents

30

30

In the first six months the number of new parents who, due to caring for the baby do not get a chance to:

 

Mums (%)

Dads(%)

Get a haircut

43

38

Buy new clothes

46

64

Go out with friends

54

51

Read a book

56

53

Go to cinema

88

70

New parents can register for the Aviva offer either online by visiting www.aviva.co.uk, by phone on 0800 046 6446, or by speaking to their financial adviser.

-ends-

For further information:

Lexis Public Relations
Amy Funston, tel: 0207 908 6433 / e: afunston@lexispr.com
Carly Mahoney, tel: 0207 908 6477 / e: cmahoney@lexispr.com
Emma Catty, tel: 0207 908 6502 / e: ecatty@lexispr.com

Aviva Press Office
Holly Smart, Tel: 01904 452766 /out of hours 07800 699218 / e: holly.smart@aviva.co.uk

Notes to editors
*Aviva commissioned research with Redshift amongst 1153 parents with children of 12 months and under between 30 June – 10 July 2009.
**The Aviva new parents initiative launched on Sunday 12th July and offers £10,000 of free life insurance to new parents in the UK.  There is no current end date to this promotional offer and we reserve the right to alter or withdraw the offer at any time. Exclusions apply.
***Over half of families (56%) with dependent age children, do not have cover that would provide a lump sum for their families if the worst were to happen.

About Aviva

  • Aviva is one of the UK’s biggest life insurers. It is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, operating in 28 countries, and one of the leading providers of life and pension products in Europe.
  • In the UK, It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
  • Aviva has strategic alliances with building societies and other leading UK brand names including CIS and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from our on-line media centre at www.aviva.com/media
  • On 1 June 2009 Aviva became the new name for Norwich Union. Aviva is now the customer brand worldwide, enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

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