Parents admit they would struggle to identify the signs of meningitis, spot if their child was being bullied – or even perform CPR on a baby or child, a study has found.

Millions also lack confidence in how to feed their newborn and how to monitor their children and teenagers online to keep them safe.

A staggering nine in 10 mums and dads aren’t confident they could spot the signs of meningitis early on, with a quarter admitting they don’t feel at all sure they would be able to tell the difference between the deadly illness over a common cold or flu.

The stats emerged in a poll by expert-led online parenting resource Essential Parent, which is advised by both Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the St John Ambulance and UNICEF UK Baby Friendly.

Figures show one in 10 babies who contract meningitis die, while one in four is left with after-effects sometimes as severe as deafness, brain damage and amputation, so early recognition is particularly important in babies. 

Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Anna Maw said: “It is vital that new parents have the confidence and knowledge to seek emergency medical treatment for their baby or child if they show symptoms of meningitis. 

“Once familiar with the symptoms, you can feel more confident about knowing when to get your child to A&E.”  

It also emerged less than one in 10 are confident they would know exactly what to do if a child or baby needed CPR.  

Dr Rebecca Chicot, child development expert and co-founder of Essential Parent, said: “The knowledge and reassurance that used to be passed down from mothers and grandmothers, has been replaced by advice from many different sources, many of which are contradictory, opinionated and not based on scientific evidence.

“Parents are hungry for knowledge, which ideally should come from a trusted expert source of evidence based information.

“We know that online video is the preferred search for parents these days – they need information that is easily accessed and absorbed while they’re on the go, via a smartphone – and have designed all of our content accordingly.

“We created Essential Parent with exactly this in mind, and have brought together a cohort of the UK’s leading experts and expert organisations including leading paediatricians, GPs, nutritional scientists, breastfeeding advisors, health visitors and psychologists to help support parents, whether they have a newborn, pre-schooler or teenager.

“Expert advice is available at the push of a button, which we hope will help parents feel more confident about the basic skills and knowledge they need.”

The study, of 1,000 parents of children aged 0-18 found more than three quarters of parents aren’t confident they know how to keep their children safe online, with more than one in 10 saying they have no idea how to do this.

And just one in four said they would know exactly what to do if they discovered their child was being bullied – either in the playground or online.

Almost half also said they are concerned about the immunisations their children have been offered, while another 46 per cent had worries about breastfeeding.

One in four spent time worrying they weren’t producing enough milk for their baby, while 16 per cent were concerned their child wouldn’t put on enough weight.

But 85 per cent of parents had no idea a newborn’s stomach is only the size of marble, with 43 per cent also saying they weren’t completely sure whether their child is a healthy weight for their age and height.

More than 80 per cent also weren’t aware of the link between sleep deprivation and obesity in children.


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