Rising prices of essentials, expensive childcare and a lack of local support services are pushing families to “breaking point”, according to Unicef UK.
Some 59 per cent of parents said they were struggling with their mental health, with those on lower incomes most likely affected, a poll for the charity found.
Meanwhile, 66 per cent of respondents have been negatively affected by the rising cost of living.
Almost a fifth of parents on low incomes are skipping meals to pay for childcare and just under half of parents struggling with the cost of living have already cut back on electricity and gas usage, with one in ten unable to heat their home properly.
The figures come from a YouGov survey for the charity of 3,564 parents of children aged four and under in Britain in August.
It also suggests one in three parents are finding it difficult to access professional support, which Unicef UK warns was putting children’s development at risk.
It said gaps in availability, patchy provision and long waiting lists mean some families are missing out on health visits, mental health support, affordable early education and childcare.
Jon Sparkes Unicef UK’s chief executive, said: “Up and down the country, we’re hearing how the rise in the cost of living, expensive childcare, a lack of mental health support and a scarcity of basic, local support services, are affecting children’s life chances and pushing families to breaking point.
“We need to act now to support families and protect children’s futures”
The charity is calling for the UK Government to introduce a National Baby And Toddler Guarantee informing families of the basic services that every young child in the UK is entitled to.
Separate research by Barnardo’s suggests that a fifth of parents are struggling to provide food for their children.
The charity’s survey, of 1,053 British parents of children aged 18 or under in October found 26 per cent of parents said their child’s mental health has worsened due to the rising cost of living.