THL’s survey: coping of families with babies has been impaired by the coronavirus epidemic – satisfaction with family life still high

Publication date 24 Mar 2021

Parents' coping and satisfaction with family life in March-December 2020

A survey conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reveals that the stress caused by the coronavirus epidemic has impaired the coping of families with babies. One fourth of the mothers and almost one fifth of the other parents said their coping had declined because of the epidemic. One third of the parents said they felt exhausted. The survey was conducted among parents of babies aged 3–6 months between March and December 2020.

Nevertheless, the majority, or more than 90 per cent of parents in families with babies were satisfied with their life and with themselves as a parent in 2020 and found that everyday life in their family had been flowing smoothly after the baby was born.

“The result seems conflicting as it reveals that, while the baby has brought new content to the family’s life, the impacts of the epidemic on coping have been hard for many parents,” says Research Manager Reija Klemetti

“It is possible that, in reality, the challenges to coping have been greater than what was now discovered as those most suffering from exhaustion probably did not respond to the survey. On the other hand, the epidemic has not changed the daily life of all families with babies as it has been family-oriented anyway.”

The epidemic increased loneliness, but families’ also spent more time together

The worries most commonly mentioned by families with babies were related to labour and giving birth and staying in the maternity hospital. Two in three mothers and one in three other parents were concerned about these.

The coronavirus epidemic has increased loneliness: one half of the mothers and one in five other parents reported they had felt lonelier during the epidemic. Slightly under one half of the parents had had less contact with the grandparents and two in three parents less contact with friends.

On the other hand, the time spent together had increased in many families during the epidemic. The majority of the parents found that the coronavirus epidemic had not affected the intimacy between the spouses or increased disagreements.

Impacts of the coronavirus epidemic on the family's daily life and the parent's intimate relationship in August-December 2020

According to the parents, there were deficiencies in receiving support during the coronavirus epidemic. One in three mothers did not receive enough support for preparing for the childbirth. The support provided by the services in matters related to the parent’s mood, coping and intimate relationship as well as the baby’s sleep and crying had also been insufficient.

The deficiencies in the services for families with children may partly be explained by the reductions made in these services during the coronavirus epidemic and partly by the fact that parents have themselves cancelled appointments.

The FinChildren (FinLapset) survey was conducted among both parents of babies aged 3–6 months between March and December 2020. More than 34,000 parents were invited to the survey, and 50 per cent of the mothers and 36 per cent of the other parents responded to it. The questions concerning the coronavirus epidemic were added to the survey in August 2020. Highly educated parents and parents aged over 30 responded to the survey more actively than others.

In addition, THL has conducted two surveys on the well-being of families with small children before the coronavirus epidemic – a pilot study on families with babies in 2017 and a study on families with 4-year-olds in 2018. The results of these surveys are similar to those now obtained on parents’ satisfaction with their life and parenthood, their perceptions of their own health, the pregnancy and on parents getting enough sleep. Feeling lonely and symptoms of depression were now slightly more common than in the previous surveys.

Source: Well-being of families with babies – FinChildren (FinLapset) survey 2020. Statistical report (in Finnish) 6/2021, National Institute for Health and Welfare.

FinLapset – Health and well-being of children, young people and families (link in Finnish) at

Further information:

Reija Klemetti
Research Manager
Tel. +358 29 524 7265

Maaret Vuorenmaa
Senior Researcher
Tel. +358 29 524 7008

Satu Helakorpi
Senior Researcher
Tel. +358 29 524 8616

Previous information on the topic: 

Reija Klemetti et al., How are families with babies doing? Basic report of a pilot study on 3–4-month old babies and their families participating in the LTH survey. Working Paper 18/2018 (Abstract in English), THL.

Maaret Vuorenmaa, Pienten lasten ja heidän perheidensä hyvinvointi 2018. Statistical report 10/2019, National Institute for Health and Welfare.


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