A baby brain-building campaign for parents of under 2s has proven so successful in Hull that the NSPCC’s Look, Say, Sing, Play is to be rolled out nationally.
Hull was one of the first areas to roll out the campaign along with sites in Yorkshire, Walsall in the West Midlands, Scotland and the South East. The campaign aims to empower and highlight to parents the brain-building benefits that everyday moments such as singing and playing with your child can have.
In Hull, the campaign was launched in partnership with Hull City Council and Hull Clinical Commissioning Group.
Dr Amy Oehring, Hull GP and NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning (CCG) Group lead for children, young people and maternity said: “We’re so pleased to have been involved in the local Look, Say, Sing, Play campaign so far, and it is great to see that this initiative is now going to be replicated across the country. Babies’ brains really are amazing and these ‘simple’ communication tips, games, and activities, can help you not only bond with your baby brilliantly but also help them to have the best start in life.
“Working with our colleagues at Hull City Council we’ve been able to champion the initiative with hundreds of local families signing up since its launch last year. We hope more and more families will sign up to receiving brain-boosting tips over the coming months and use them in their day-to-day play with their children.”
Councillor Peter Clark, portfolio holder for learning, skills and safeguarding children at Hull City Council, said: “We have successfully embedded Look, Say, Sing, Play across our work with children to ensure they get the best start in life. The resources and online tips from the NSPCC’s campaign have positively benefited children and their families across the city.
“Improving children’s speech, language and communication in early life is one of our top priorities for the city. Look, Say, Sing, Play has significantly contributed towards achieving this and will continue to do so in the future.”
The launch in Hull, last summer, was also championed by local mum, Laura Brusch, who, to mark the national roll-out, took part in a virtual focus group this week.
Laura along with other mums and an Early Years Practitioner, discussed how the campaign has especially been a “life-saver” in lockdown, the challenges of caring for a new born without baby groups, soft play, playgrounds or seeing friends and family.
The group found the campaign’s tips and activities had helped children’s development; created bonds with parents and siblings, and kept children entertained through weeks of being housebound.
Laura, mum of 19-month old George, said: “We’ve had our ups and downs during lockdown and my son George has noticed the changes. The tips have been helpful, especially the singing activities. George loves singing head, shoulders, knees and toes and when we video call my mum he sings it and can now point out the body parts. He loves it and it’s something we can do together. It makes me so proud to see him develop and learn all these new things.”
To coincide with the national launch, the NSPCC has produced a series of short, weekly YouTube videos showing mums and dads at home trying out the Look, Say, Sing, Play tips with their little ones, using only what they can find around the house. It also explains how each fun task helps their child’s brain to develop.
Last year, an NSPCC survey of more than 2,000 parents and expectant parents revealed that 62% were unaware that the interactions with their new baby in moments such as playing, singing or story time can be brain-building ones.
NSPCC Head of Local Campaigns Helen Westerman, who hosted the virtual focus group, said: “We have had great success with Look, Say, Sing, Play during the pilot with more than 19,000 parents signing-up, and we’re now excited to share the resources with families across the UK.
“After weeks of no baby groups, soft play, playgrounds or seeing friends and family the parents and early years practitioner we spoke to were understandably worried about their children’s development, so it’s fantastic to hear that the Look, Say, Sing, Play tips have reassured and helped the parents keep their children entertained during this unsettling time.
“The tips are all about the fun you can have with what’s lying around the house rather than having expensive toys or gadgets; or adding to the list of things parents already have to do.”
The charity has also teamed up with Vroom to produce a series of ‘calm and connect’ tips that are aimed at helping parents manage emotions during difficult times.
Parents can sign-up to get weekly tips via NSPCC website. Each one will include a fun, age-appropriate tip which they can easily fit in to their daily routine.
[Melissa Cooper – NHS Hull CCG]