Young parents

13-19 years

A young parent is someone who has a baby when still in their teens or twenties, usually before age 25. 

Becoming a young parent can be an adventure full of joy but can have specific challenges.

On this page, we share information and guidance on: 

We will also point you to where you can find more information and help online.​​​​​

The challenges faced by some young parents

parent holding baby's hand

Most parents face challenges from time to time when they have a baby or are bringing up a young child no matter what age they are.

As a young parent, you might feel that you have extra pressure and concerns about:

  • Facing judgement or receiving comments from others
  • Doing what is best for your child
  • Concerns about your appearance and potential body changes
  • Involvement of outside people like health visitors or others, including family members
  • Money or housing worries
  • Trying to prove you can manage everything or worrying that you lack information

You do not need to feel pressured to have all the answers at once. What matters to children is the actions of their parents, regardless of their age. You can support your child's well-being by focusing on:

  • Strengthening your bond with your child
  • Developing healthy relationships with others in your life
  • Looking for and accepting practical, emotional, and financial help
  • Prioritising your own physical and mental well-being  
  • Eating healthy food and getting plenty of rest

Ask for help and advice; it shows your commitment to making the best choices for both you and your child. 

Looking after yourself and your baby

Looking after yourself 

Taking care of yourself is an essential part of being a great parent. By prioritising your well-being, you will be better equipped to provide the care and love your baby needs.

Our Baby on the way pages have lots of practical helpful information to help you prepare for parenthood:

  • What to expect during pregnancy
  • The importance of good nutrition during this time
  • How to take good care of your teeth and mouth
  • What you can start to plan for
  • How you can start connecting with your baby while they are growing in the womb

It's good to have support from friends, and family. Many services and professionals will also be there to offer support from the start of your pregnancy. 

Brooke and NHS Services for new parents advise about the support you will receive throughout the stages of pregnancy and birth.

Looking after your teeth and gums are especially important when you are pregnant. Our oral health pages explain why and you can find out how to register for a dentist in your area.

You may need to work with children's services or other professionals if you are under the age of sixteen or there are any concerns about you or your baby's welfare. 

Use available resources and lean on the support of those around you. This shows you are taking positive steps toward ensuring a bright future for both you and your child.

Pregnancy and childbirth bring lots of changes to your body and emotions. This can feel difficult or even overwhelming. 

If you find that you are constantly feeling stressed or sad, many organisations such as Mind have lots of information. They can support you with your mental health as well as support for postnatal depression

For urgent help and support, the NHS (National Health Service) has a list of mental health helplines

Looking after your baby

mother breastfeeding her baby

When you are taking care of a baby, there are lots of things to figure out. One big choice is whether to breastfeed or use formula.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby. Many parents, including yourself, may lack knowledge about this and that is completely okay.

“Even my health visitor was surprised that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. People make assumptions that as a teen parent, you won’t breastfeed; you will just formula-feed.”

Young parent

Our Baby's first year pages have valuable information on breastfeeding, bottle feeding and other infant feeding support to help you make an informed decision.

The National Childbirth Trust has help for parents no matter how they are feeding their baby. They have a helpline which you can find details of at the bottom of this page.


Sleep for your baby can also be an area of concern as a new parent. Our guide to sleep for babies includes: 

  • How will I know when my baby is tired?
  • How much sleep should my baby have?
  • Make sure your baby is safe while they sleep
  • Bedtime routines

Do not hesitate to reach out to your midwife, local health visitor, or GP about any questions you may have. They can offer support for both your and your child's health.​​​​​​

Staying in touch with your friends

As you focus on caring for your child, it can be hard to find the time to stay in touch with friends.

parent and child playing on the floor

Chatting with your friends and hanging out with them can help you feel less alone. But with a baby, it might be tough. You could feel like: 

  • You are too busy for friends, or they are having fun without you.
  • Friends might not understand what you are going through, or they might not seem interested. 

No matter how you feel, there are things you can try:

  • Let them know how you feel. Your friends may think that you are busy and worry they are bothering you by getting in touch.
  • Suggest meeting in places like the park where you can bring your baby along and still see your friends.
  • You might also enjoy making friends with other parents/young parents. Ask your health visitor for help. They will know of local groups.
  • Playgroups are great for your child’s learning and development. They can be a wonderful way to meet parents like yourself.
  • You might find parent and baby groups in your local area by searching online. These sorts of groups can provide emotional support as well as information on child development and health care.

You can also search for Barnardo’s local children's centres and family hubs.

“Seeing your friends all dressed up sometimes can be hard, it can feel like you are never going to leave the house on your own.” 

Young parent

Your relationship with your baby's other parent

Co-parenting with your child's other parent allows for: 

  • Shared responsibilities
  • Emotional support
  • Practical help
  • A close bond with both parents, providing a sense of stability and security for your baby. 

Parenting can be challenging for everyone especially if you and your partner have different parenting styles on top of coping with:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Communication issues
  • Limited quality time together 

When you are in this situation, it is easy to lose patience and feel angry when things do not go to plan. Our parental conflict page can offer advice.

Try to remember, you both share the same goal – providing the best for your child. Our Families pages offer extra support and information. 

We also have helpful advice for partners and dads to be. Barnardo’s Young People & Families Team helps through their Young Dads Work programme. is another useful resource.

If your relationship problems escalate to emotional abuse or violence, it’s important to:

Your safety and well-being, as well as that of your child, come first. Seek support through a confidential domestic abuse helpline. Barnardo’s also offers valuable information and services to help you.

If legal issues come up, you might need a solicitor. Finding the right solicitor and understanding what they can do for you is important. Here are some helpful resources:

What are the benefits of being a young parent?

Being a young parent is not all difficult and comes with its own unique set of benefits.

As you both grow and learn together you may:

  • Have more energy to keep up with your child
  • Relate to your child's experiences more easily
  • Take part in activities and playtime with enthusiasm

Playing with your child creates a strong bond between you both. Our Five to Thrive pages explain how play supports your child’s healthy brain development.

Being a single parent

Raising a child alone can teach you valuable life skills, but it can also be challenging.

This video from Family Lives gives practical advice about preparing to become a single Mum when pregnant.

Organisations such as Gingerbread can offer advice and help. 

GOV.UK has lots of information including information on child maintenance and social services.

Going back to education or work

young mum at college

Managing education or work while being a parent can be challenging, especially when dealing with exams and tiredness. To balance these pressures, consider:

  • Focusing on one task or setting a time limit for studying
  • Resting when your baby does, especially if they do not sleep much
  • Informing your teachers or support workers what is going on 
  • Keeping a list of what is going well and what is challenging in school

It is not always easy to study or work whilst being a parent, but with proper planning, support, and self-care, it's achievable. Be kind to yourself and do not hesitate to seek help when necessary.

If you are in employment and need advice, you can find information at Youth Employment UK. Your local Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice service can also help.

Your local council has information about the maternity and paternity benefits and leave you are entitled to claim.

Help with money

One of your biggest concerns may be not having enough money to support both your child and you. Understanding your main expenses and finding out where to get financial support can help you manage your money and reduce stress.

Try to consider all your costs such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Transport
  • Childcare

You may also find using an online budget planner such as this one from Mental Health and Money Advice helpful.

Our healthy eating pages have lots of recipes and advice on how to stretch your food budget. You can check if you qualify for free milk, fruit, vegetables, and vitamins through NHS Healthy Start

Gingerbread charity has a benefits finder for teenage parents. For more information about benefits, financial support, and useful services, you can also visit:

Further support

Brook - A national charity that offers sexual health advice to people under 25. You can text them on 07537 402 024 or use their webchat helpline, details on their website.

Barnardo’s support for parents - Search our services supporting children, young people, and their families across the UK.

Barnardo’s care-experienced parents Unite for Change - This report looks to show the importance of improving support for care-experienced parents

Barnardo's Life Labs (in collaboration with IKEA UK) - Provides advice on independent living, for young people leaving care.

HomeStart - Specially trained volunteers who can visit you at home 

Meic - Information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people in Wales

The Mix - Support for people under the age of 25 including advice on parenting

National Childbirth Trust - Feeding helpline 8am-midnight: 0300 330 0700

NHS Start for Life - Information on pregnancy, birth, and parenting 

Shelter - Information and advice on housing issues

Spunout - Supports for pregnant young people Ireland 

We would like to thank Barnardo's Voice and Influence Team and the young parents Belle and Corrine for their support, feedback and contributions to this page.

Last updated on 14 February 2024