Local campaign encourages parents to talk, sing and play with their baby

The NSPCC, NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group and Hull City Council are working together on the charity’s campaign, ‘Look, Say, Sing, Play’.

A successful launch event was held in July for professionals working with babies and young children to mark the start of a new campaign which aims to show parents why taking a cue from their young child and reacting to what they’re doing is so important.

The NSPCC, NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group and Hull City Council are working together on the charity’s campaign, ‘Look, Say, Sing, Play’.

According to a recent NSPCC survey almost two thirds of parents are unaware that back and forth interaction with their child from birth can help their babies’ social, emotional and cognitive development.

The online survey was conducted for the NSPCC by 2CV. They spoke to over 2,000 parents and expecting parents – 1,767 parents of children aged 5 or under (1,026 mums and 675 dads) and 262 pregnant women or their partners.  Of the total figure, 166 people who took part in the survey live in the Yorkshire and Humber area.

Examples of positive interactions given in the survey include:

–                      Repeat noises they make, and words they say

–                      Sing to / with them

–                      Babble / baby talk

–                      Hold & cuddle them. Make eye contact with them

–                      Respond to the cues my baby gives me for attention

–                      Play together

–                      Try to understand how they are feeling, when they can’t communicate it

–                      Tell them stories

–                      Describe your surroundings

The Look, Say, Sing, Play campaign aims to encourage parents to take a look at what their baby is focusing on and how they react, say what they are doing and copy the sounds their baby makes, sing along to their favourite tune or play simple games and see what their baby enjoys.

The launch event at Hull Kingston Rovers, KCOM Lightstream Stadium, Craven Park, Preston Road in Hull saw local professionals working with young families across the city, come together to learn more about the brain-building science behind the NSPCC campaign, and receive campaign resources (leaflets, posters, flashcards) to share with new parents and information about how to run their own activity sessions with parents and under 2s.

They also heard testimony from parents like Laura Brusch on how important this campaign is.

Laura said: “I would really recommend the Look, Say Sing, Play campaign, I didn’t know I was helping to build my baby’s brain, and learning that it can be just the little things, at bath time or feeding time, that can make such a huge difference is really good to know.

Laura added: “I think it is natural that for some parents it could be a case of not knowing what to do, of struggling with the idea of being able to educate your child at such a young age but I have seen the difference with my own baby George. It is actually the most important time to help build his brain and I love these special moments I have with him too, times I know I will never get back and that makes them so special to me as well as George.”

Portfolio Holder for Learning, Skills and Safeguarding Children, Councillor Peter Clark said: “I am pleased to see NSPCC’s campaign being adopted in the city and positively benefiting children and their families. This is one of the many initiatives we are embedding across our work with children to ensure they get the best start in life.

“We are committed to working with our partners to create the conditions where positive attachments can form and children have good language and social skills. Look, Say, Sing, Play will significantly contribute towards achieving this.”

“Look, Say, Sing, Play” seeks to build on the interaction parents are already having with their child, bringing everyday moments into focus and showing how they offer the chance to engage with their baby, with tips on how they can easily fit them into their day.

Mike Foers, NHS Hull CCG Commissioning Manager  said: “The NSPCC Look, Say, Sing, Play campaign is an exciting project to work with our professionals and parents to support baby brain development.  Improving speech, language and communication in early life is one of our top priorities for the city. The event was a great success in bringing together a wide range of professionals to learn more about this campaign and the ‘science’ behind the development of the tools and resources for parents.

“We look forward to developing the campaign across early years services to support parents and ensure our children and young people have the best start in life.”

Helen Westerman, NSPCC Head of Safeguarding and Communities, said: “We know that when an infant babbles, gestures or cries and an adult responds positively with eye contact, words or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain.

“We know parents interact with their children all the time, but there’s a real opportunity for them to do it more consciously and give them the best start in life. We hope the ‘Look, Say, Sing, Play’ campaign will resonate with parents and expectant parents and provide some new and simple ideas to help them with vital early year engagement.”

To get weekly tips, parents can sign up to an email from the charity via the campaign page on the NSPCC website. Each one will include a fun, age-appropriate tip which they can easily fit in to their daily routine.

The NSPCC has also created a campaign video with tips for parents.

[Melissa Cooper – Hull Clinical Commissioning Group]