In 2018, we’ve shared much of the latest parenting and science news with you. Some of this has had an immediate impact and other things could take longer to have an effect on day to day parenting. As we get ready to welcome 2019, we have taken a look at some possible parenting trends for the new year. Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any more ideas on things to come.

1. What’s in a name? 2019 might see even more unique baby names

Although names like ‘Sophia’ ‘Liam’ and ‘Emma’ still sit in the top 10 most popular baby names, according to BabyCenter, more unique names are working their way in. Healthy food names are on the rise: ‘Kiwi’ is up by 40% in popularity, ‘Kale’ is up 35% and ‘Clementine’ is up 15%, thought to be inspired by veganism. Names inspired by computer games have leapt up, such as ‘Ramirez’, which is up 57% and Leviathan, up 46%.

They have also put together some predicted baby names for 2019, which include names from TV and film (Olaf, Elsa, Arya) and locations (Cairo, Dallas, Israel) amongst others. And another trend predicted is ‘raindrop’ baby names – smooth sounding names that fit two or more syllables into four letters of fewer, with no sharp stops or hisses, for example, Noah, Lana, Ali, Myla and Leon.

2. More self care and hopefully better support for parents

Throughout 2018 we’ve seen increasing awareness amongst parents and services of the impact of parenting on physical and mental health. This has meant, the services are recognising the need to provide more support, although the available support still remains far from ideal. Around 1 in 5 mums and  1 in 10 dads experience depression in the first 6 months of their child’s life. One of the positive policy initiatives announced in 2018 was that the NHS will be offering mental health checks to new and expectant fathers in addition to those offered for mothers. These checks including peer support, behavioural couples therapy, and other family and parenting interventions.

But with mental health services already being stretched, it remains to be seen how this will work. Hopefully this new service will help many who often suffer in silence, and it’s a move in the right direction for men’s mental health, particularly fathers who have the responsibility of caring for a new life.

And in 2018, a survey found that more than half of millenial women had made self care their new year’s resolution. The idea is on the rise amongst bloggers and vloggers who inspire many, and it has also been found that self care apps are booming. Self care is easily put on the back burner when you become a parent, but it is very important to keep yourself mentally healthy and happy for your little one.

3. Smarter nurseries and parenting aids

According to Pinterest, searches for smart bassinets (which are said to rock your baby to sleep) have gone up by 815%. There are also smart bottle warmers, changing mats, vocabulary trackers, and even self-installing car seats flying out onto the market.

Although some may have their doubts, these extra bits of technology are simply there to make your parenting journey a little bit easier, and can come in handy when putting your mind at ease about your baby’s health and well-being.

It has also been found that the number of mothers in employment stands at roughly 74% (an increase from 68.9% in 2013 and 61.9% in 1996) and it’s probable that this will continue to increase. With extra working hours comes extra technology to give you a bit more time with your little ones (or to catch up on some much needed sleep).

Also, 2019 will be bringing something exciting from us – the launch of Bluebell, with a mission to make parenting simpler. Watch this space.

4. Increased awareness of pregnancy loss & IVF

Baby loss and IVF are still often taboo subjects but, thankfully, awareness seems to be on the rise. There are a number of charities focused on helping women through this traumatic time, and in 2018, Sands launched their ‘Finding the Words’ campaign which calls on everyone to help break the silence around stillbirth.

In May, researchers announced that they might have found a cause (which could lead to a cure) for polycystic ovary syndrome: the leading cause of infertility in women which also puts them at higher risk for pregnancy loss. Clinical studies for further research started later in the year so we will hopefully see more in that area in the future.

And in November, Michelle Obama opened up about her IVF journey after suffering a miscarriage 20 years ago. Although people in the limelight speaking about these issues isn’t completely new, each time it happens it adds a little more progress to the awareness, and the Obamas hope that by disclosing this information they may prompt more couples to consider IVF as a solution.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists aim to halve the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled due to preventable incidents occurring during labour (in term pregnancies) by 2020, so hopefully they will be a bit closer to their goal next year.

5. A change in parents’ social media content

dad and kids on sofa in messy living room

Worries about ‘sharenting’  are increasing as people start to become more aware of the effects of their actions online. There have been warnings that it may put children in danger due to too much personal information being released, or at risk of fraud and identity theft in the future. It has also been found that parents’ use of social media can have a negative effect on their child’s behaviour. So, with all this new information, we may be seeing a bit less sharenting (or an increased use of privacy settings).

There have also been debates over people tailoring photos to make their lives look ‘Pinterest perfect’, which can have a negative effect on their audience’s mental well-being. This survey found that over 75% of people lie on social media, and people are starting to catch on and embrace ‘realness’. 2018 saw an increase in ‘honest’ posts and accounts, with people showing what life is really like behind the filters and Photoshop. And in May, Instagram changed their policies to allow uncensored childbirth photos to be shared. So 2019 may bring even more ‘realness’ to our screens – a plus for anyone who has anxieties over social media.

6. Less waste when it comes to toys

With the banning of plastic straws and cotton buds on the horizon, could we start to become more eco-friendly by reducing toy waste? Another search found to be on the rise from Pinterest is for ‘toy share subscriptions’, which has gone up by 313%. These services, such as the Toy Box Club allow you to receive toys to your front door each month. These toys are then passed on to the next person signed up to the subscription, reducing waste and clutter, and allowing your child to experience a multitude of brightly coloured distractions so they won’t get bored.

7. Debate over screen time will continue with more balanced evidence for best practice

With 1 in 4 children under 6 having a smartphone, and babies as young as 6 months using them, it’s understandable that many parents have worries about how much time their children spend on tablets and smartphones, with lots not allowing their children any access, or limiting their access time. It’s clear that too much time spent on smart devices can have negative effects for anyone at any age and, when it comes to infants, parents are constantly warned of the negative effects, with ideas that it will hinder their development.

But as technology becomes a bigger part of our lives and the ways in which we use it develops, we’re finding new, positive ways to use smart devices with our children. This may evolve even further in 2019 as it has been found that the use of smart devices can help children to learn, communicate and develop mentally.

Research from Oxford University found that “limiting children’s digital device use is not necessarily beneficial for well-being,” and that exploring the digital world together and turning it into a social time may “affect children’s psychological well-being, curiosity, and the bonds with the caregiver involved.” (Although more research is needed in this area).

So, by guiding, joining in, and encouraging moderated use of apps that can help with development, tablets and smartphones may start to become a normal and beneficial part of children’s lives from an early age. Look out for our blog post on babies using tech for more on this topic.

8. Parenting styles will continue to evolve and experts will keep finding trendy names for these

Parents will continue to do what comes naturally to them: try to do their best for their children. Of course, in recent times, parents have been given different labels – from tiger mums to helicopter parents, and now the latest term: lawnmower parents. Lawnmower parents go beyond helicopter parents (who are thought to swoop in as soon as their child has a problem) and take a more preventative approach by actually removing the obstacles that might get in the way of their child.

These trends and terms will come and go, and who can blame stressed parents for doing their best? Of course, as with anything, moderation is good and parents should balance their protective urges with opportunities for their child to improve their problem solving skills, which will help them to overcome hurdles in the future and promote independence.

One undoubtedly positive trend that will continue in 2019 is the growing roles that fathers play in parenting. Millennial fathers are stepping up to take their fair share of parental responsibilities. This may be combined with another trend that’s already popular: partnered parents, or parents living together who aren’t married.

9. We will know even more about babies

An obvious one, but still very exciting. This year we found out lots about pregnancy: babies start moving in the womb as early as 7 weeks, scientists discovered why a mum’s immune system doesn’t attack her developing baby and that, unfortunately, pregnancy depression may be on the rise.

For parents, we found out that older fathers can have an effect on the health of their babies, even partial breastfeeding (instead of just exclusive) is helpful in improving your baby’s well-being and that our brain activity reflects our baby’s when we play with them.

And for those wonderful little babies, science told us about how their faces respond to touch from the moment they’re born, how stroking them can help reduce pain, that more activity in the day may help them to sleep at night, and many more amazing things!

With time comes knowledge, and we’re excited to see what interesting and helpful research is in store for us in 2019.

Finally, one trend that will continue for sure: we will keep sharing the best and latest evidence and news about parenting science with you.

Let us know in the comments below your predictions for how things may be different for parents in 2019!

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