This study aims to understand the experience and impact of the initial COVID-19 lockdown in young families with children aged below 4 years. Free text questions were administered to participants in the ORIGINS (Australia) and Born in Bradford (UK) cohort studies to collect qualitative information on worries, concerns and enjoyable experiences during the pandemic. A total of 903 (400 for ORIGINS and 503 for BiB) participants completed the two surveys during April 2020. Despite varying in geography, levels of socio-economic disadvantage and their situational context during the pandemic, respondents from both cohorts reported similar worries and challenges during the lockdown period, including: employment/finances, health anxiety, mental health and social isolation, caring for children and child development. Families across the globe experienced both positive and negative immediate impacts of COVID-19. Population-based data can be used to inform the development of support services, public health campaigns and universal interventions to assist families in future health crises.