A series of TikToks featuring “pandemic babies,” or those born shortly before or after March 2020, sparked debate on Twitter this week about how coronavirus-related quarantine has affected newborns.
“If you’re a pandemic baby and you’ve been in quarantine your whole life, so you get overstimulated by everything cause all the strangers that you see have masks on and you’ve never really had a playdate in your life, clap your hands,” a parent sings in a popular TikTok sound that originated on Jan. 2.
Multiple videos show parents taking their babies to the store for the first time after spending their early life in quarantine. The babies stare in confusion, fear, awe, and amusement. Others feature stories of children socializing like pets. The #pandemicbaby hashtag has almost 200 million views on TikTok.
Some “pandemic babies” in the videos appear to be fully adjusted to COVID-19 regulations. One video features a baby putting a mask over her father’s face; another user posted that her child thinks everything was hand sanitizer.
A viral tweet from Twitter user @Btsquared2 about the “pandemic baby” hashtag on TikTok sparked discussion on the platform regarding the impact of isolation on children.
Some parents were concerned about how the absence of public interaction would affect their children long-term, noting that they haven’t been socialized around other children—only around parents and pets.
“My youngest is a pandemic baby, she cries at the supermarket checkout when the cashier looks at her, screams if any family tries to touch her (outside of the people she knows) and I truly worry,” one parent wrote.
“I work with developmentally delayed babies and it is real,” another user said. “I was doing an intake a few weeks ago and the mom was (like) ‘Basically he thinks he is a dog. You can write that down.’”
Babies mimicking their pets was a common experience in multiple TikToks. One video shows a child crawling with a toy in his mouth.
“This is how I know my child has been socialized by dogs,” the parent says in the video.
In another video, posted May 18, a user describes taking a baby she nannies to the park—the child’s second trip to the park in her life.
“She kept pointing at other children and saying ‘dog,’” she says.
Others countered the belief that these actions were pandemic-induced, claiming that acting like an animal is typical behavior for a kid.
From our friends at Nautilus
“This thread makes a great ‘Tell me you haven’t spent much time around a range of children, or reading about childhood development, or talking to (other) parents or grandparents or pediatric professionals, without saying you haven’t spent much time[, etc.],’” one user suggested, hinting at another TikTok trend which prompts users to share their experiences out of context.
“Yeah like…. barking at people sounds perfectly average kid behaviour to me???” another user responded. “Kids are weird! That’s why they’re so great.”
“I feel like that’s normal but my child is MY child so he could just be weird like me,” a third said.
Some Twitter users noted the “pandemic baby” struggles they’ve witnessed in their own lives.
“My cousin is a pandemic baby and she cries every time her parents put their masks on because that’s how she knows they’re leaving the house,” one user said.
“My nephew is just very concerned with everything. He stops and examines every little thing,” another wrote.
“My child meows at people LMAO,” a third added.
The Daily Dot reached out to an early childhood specialist for comment.
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