Toddler development slows down across the East Riding during pandemic, new data shows

Fewer toddlers in the East Riding reached key developmental milestones during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:03 pm
At the age of two, children are invited to undergo a developmental check to see how they are progressing. photo: PA Images

Charity Action for Children has called for urgent investment to prevent a national “childhood crisis”, adding that the pandemic meant youngsters spent critical development time isolated and unable to socialise normally.

At the age of two, children are invited to undergo a developmental check to see how they are progressing mentally and physically.

The comprehensive check sees health visitors assess the child’s communication, social interaction, problem-solving, fine motor skills (such as holding objects and drawing) and gross motor skills, such as walking without falling and kicking a ball.

Data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows 85% of East Riding children reviewed met or exceeded expectations in all five areas in 2020-21.

That was down from 92% the previous year.

Across England, the proportion of toddlers achieving in all areas fell slightly to 82.9% from 83.3% the year before.

Imran Hussain, Action for Children’s director of policy and campaigns, said it was deeply worrying to see so many toddlers falling behind in their development.

He said the pandemic had worsened existing problems, adding: “We know that the first few years are critical to a child’s development so the fact that they have spent the majority of this precious time unable to socialise with family, spend time with other children or enjoy normal levels of play has been devastating.”

The figures show in the East Riding, around 97% of youngsters were on track with their fine motor skills, while 96% had adequate gross motor skills.

A Government spokesman said it was committed to ensuring every child has the best start in life, adding: “The NHS, local authorities and health visitors are working hard to reinstate services to help families get the support they need, and the Public Health Grant will continue to ensure investment is made in prevention and frontline services like child health visits.”