Borrow a Baby is a Series programme that first aired in 2000.
Borrow a Baby (2000)
Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe. While politicians, parents and teachers agonise over the best way to teach children about the perils of early parenthood Channel 4 offers an original solution - ask teenagers to borrow a baby for the weekend and learn about responsibility for real.
In this film, part of Channel 4's Generation Sex season, three brave volunteers, two girls Amy 15 and Zoe 14, and one boy Sam, 14, are paired up with three sets of parents - Clare and Andrew, Chris and Justine and Tim and Karen. The teenagers were found through a youth project working with youngsters on pregnancy issues.
The parents agreed to take part because they believe the experiment will help the teenagers find out what having a baby is really like. They let the teenagers move in and take over for the weekend on condition they can watch the events from CCTV in the garage. A health visitor is on hand to ensure the babies are kept safe and well and the parents are given the option to call a halt to events at any point.
The teenagers are fairly confident to start out with. Sam knows all about sex. "When you have sex right," he says, "you produce sperms and the sperms go in to the egg and it's like a little race between all the sperms and that." Zoe thinks she will cope easily with a baby. "Yeah, I don't know why but I think I will because I've looked after quite a lot of babies," she says.
The teenagers are eased in gently on Friday. They get lessons in baby care from the real mums and dads who stay with them that night. But by Saturday night they are on their own and the harsh reality is beginning to sink in. Sam is missing a party, Zoe wants to see her mates and Amy would be seeing her boyfriend. Zoe is bored, Sam's baby - Luke - has pooed in the bath and baby Jade is being sick all over Amy.
While the kids are getting to grip with poo and tantrums, the mums and dads are avidly watching the CCTV to make sure nothing goes wrong. Being parted from their babies is proving emotionally traumatic. "If anything went wrong ... we wouldn't forgive ourselves," says Grace's dad Chris.
As the weekend progresses Amy has a really tough time with baby Jade. "I am worn out. It feels like I've done a cross country ten times in an hour," she says. All Amy can think about is being waited on hand and foot by her own mum and would happily pack in the experiment.
Zoe seems to be coping well but she is lucky because baby Grace is sleeping through the night and she is getting a lot of help from her health visitor. When Grace proceeds to have an almighty crying fit. Mum Justine can bear it no longer and has to intervene while Zoe, realising the baby lark isn't as easy as she thought, admits to being scared.
Sam is very caring but he prefers his playstation to parenthood and has trouble getting to grips with baby care basics. He induces panic in mum Karen when he puts Luke in a baby bouncer precariously balanced on top of the sofa. Karen rushes in to rescue her son, but panic over, she is happy for the experiment to continue. Sam's weekend has a long way to go ...
For help and support phone the Channel 4 helpline on 0800 600 444
Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)
Production Year: 2000
Database last updated: 12 December - 18:05