Saturday, 19 March 2011


National Literacy Trust launches ‘Talk To Your Baby’ Campaign 

New research released by the National Literacy Trust today, shows that a fifth of parents-to- be (19%) believe it is only beneficial to communicate with their baby from the age of three months and one in 20 (6%) believe that communicating with their baby is only necessary when they are six months or older, while one in eight parents (13%) believe the primary responsibility for developing their child’s communication skills lies outside the home. 

To mark the ‘National Year of Communication’ as part of the ‘Hello’ Campaign the National Literacy Trust is launching a ‘Talk To Your Baby’ Campaign to educate parents about the hugely positive role they can play in helping their baby develop vital communication skills in the first three years of their lives.  
TLR as crucial to positive child development as TLC Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, comments:  ‘The first three years are pivotal to the development of communication skills.  By the age of three a staggering 80% of a child’s brain will be formed.  A child’s brain will never grow faster than at this point in their lives so we’re urging every parent in the UK to use this window of opportunity to talk, talk, talk!   

‘We all know how vital it is to give a young child plenty of TLC.  Our message is that TLR (Talking, Listening and Responding) is every bit as crucial to their future wellbeing.’ 

The National Literacy Trust’s new campaign is launched amidst growing concern about the increasing number of children entering primary education lacking basic communication skills. National Literacy Trust research demonstrates that to reverse this trend parents need to be helped to develop a greater understanding of how vital their role can be and how much their baby is able to understand and enjoy communicating: 
• Around a quarter (23%) of parents believe less than a third (30% or less) of their child’s brain has formed by the age of two and 44% of parents believe half or less of their child’s brain has formed when in fact the figure is 70% 
• Over a third (38%) of parents expecting their first baby are unaware that there is any benefit in talking to their baby while it is still in the womb 2
• One in 20 (6%) of expecting parents believe that language skills develop entirely naturally and that they have no role to play in their development 
• While over three quarters (78%) of parents believe it’s crucial for children’s language and speech development to be supported, one in eight (13%) believe the primary responsibility for developing communication skills in their child lies outside the home (eg. With nurseries or healthcare professionals)  

The new five a day rule: 
As part of the Talk To Your Baby campaign the National Literacy Trust is urging parents to 
consciously incorporate some TLR (talking, listening and responding) time with their baby at least five times a day.  Tina O’Brien, star of Waterloo Road and Strictly Come Dancing and mum to Scarlett, age two, comments:  ‘TLR is the new TLC!  You and your child will get so much out of talking together and it doesn’t have to be hard work.  Scarlett and I chat all the time, when we’re shopping, at bath time or even while we’re doing the weekly food shop.  We have such a giggle when we’re talking together and it’s great to know that I’m giving her language skills she’ll have for life.’ 

Get Involved.  Get Talking! 
With 82% of parents saying that they’d welcome more information about the development of speech and language skills in babies, March sees the launch of a brand new website – designed to be a hub of information for parents and carers of babies and young children to access: 
- free information about key developmental milestones of babies
- free activities to stimulate talk with young children including Maisy colouring sheets, 
Barefoot Books video content, podcasts and song and nursery rhyme lyrics 
- hints for incorporating beneficial ‘talking sessions’ throughout a busy day 
- tips for talking to your baby from celebrity mums and mums-to-be 
- video and audio contact throughout for accessibility 
Parents are also being urged by the National Literacy Trust to commit to talk to their baby more by going online to make a pledge, for the chance to win one of 150 free children’s books (from Walker books and Barefoot Books).   
The charity is also encouraging parents with babies and young children to hold a ‘Talk To Your Baby’ party and is providing party packs and inspiration on the site, with the first 300 parents to commit to holding a party receiving a ‘Driving My Tractor’ book and CD package from Barefoot Books, worth £6.99.  

A magical moment:  Baby’s first word 
Around a third of parents (31%) expect to hear their baby’s first word between the ages of 6-8 months while just over a third (38%) expect to wait until their baby is around 9 – 11 months.  
Over a quarter (28%) anticipate that a full year will go past before their baby will be able to say a recognisable word, when in fact the average age for the emergence of baby’s first word is typically around 12 months. 

The National Literacy Trust research reveals that the top 10 most popular first baby words (other than Mummy or Daddy) are: 
1. Dog 
2. Cat 
3. More 
4. Baby 
5. Ball 
6. Duck 
7. Teddy 
8. Milk 
9. Gran 
10. Again  
Jonathan Douglas comments:  ‘Few moments in life are more magical that the first time you hear your baby talk.  It’s the start of a lifelong conversation.  But we want parents to understand that talking with your baby doesn’t have to involve words.  Your baby cooing, babbling or even simply holding your gaze is a way of them communicating.  ‘The Talk To Your Baby campaign aims to help parents understand that by responding positively to their baby’s earliest attempts at communication and taking every opportunity to talk with their baby they will build their child’s confidence and help them develop language 
skills that will be with them for life.’ 

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