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Press release  |  11 October 2018

UNICEF AND H&M FOUNDATION URGE FATHERS TO SPEAK BABY TALK TO BOOST THEIR BABIES’ BRAINS

Today, UNICEF and non-profit H&M Foundation launch Baby Talk For Dads. The initiative encourages dads to interact more with their babies at an early age, and highlights how baby talk stimulates learning and development. To learn the most important language in the world for boosting your baby’s brain, an interactive course is available at babytalkfordads.org. In a film to launch the initiative, real-life dads try to master the art of baby talk.
Research shows that when we speak slower, more melodically and make exaggerated sounds it makes it easier for babies to learn new words and develop cognitive abilities.
The Baby Talk For Dads course consists of three playful voice exercises caregivers can do with or without their child.

The Baby Talk for Dads initiative is part of a Global Program on Early Childhood Development that was launched by UNICEF and non-profit H&M Foundation in 2014. It has so far reached more than 135,000 children.

“Baby talk may sound silly to us, but not to your child. It actually helps develop their brain. But as it turns out, dads don’t speak baby talk as much as moms do – and that needs to change. Now, we challenge dads to become fluent baby talkers through Baby Talk for Dads. It´s a fun and easy tool to highlight a very important issue”, says Diana Amini, Global Manager, H&M Foundation.

“Baby talk may sound silly to us, but not to your child. It actually helps develop their brain.”

Diana Amini, Global Manager, H&M Foundation

Research shows that when we speak slower, more melodically and make exaggerated sounds it makes it easier for babies to learn new words and develop cognitive abilities. It’s important for all caregivers to have two-way conversations with babies, using eye contact, mirroring baby’s expressions and responding to cues. Meanwhile, studies show that moms and dads don’t interact with their babies in the same way – neither when it comes to how they talk to them or how often they do it.

“Healthy brain development during the early years of life is reliant upon responsive interactions and stimulating experiences, along with good nutrition and protection – and it is parents who hold the biggest stake in providing this environment. We hope that this innovative tool helps inspire fathers and all caregivers to talk more with their babies”, says UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development Dr. Pia Britto.

“In our research we’ve seen marked differences in the early development of babies who have experienced responsive baby talk with their caregivers and other family members around them, to those that haven’t.”

Dr. Marina Kalashnikova, The Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language

The Baby Talk For Dads course consists of three playful voice exercises caregivers can do with or without their child. Each exercise has been developed using the expertise of researcher Dr. Marina Kalashnikova from The Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, and focuses on topics such as tone of voice and how to have a two-way interaction with your baby.

“When we talk to our babies from the earliest moment of life – particularly in melodic, high-pitched, and exaggerated tones – we have a profound impact on their cognitive development. In our research we’ve seen marked differences in the early development of babies who have experienced responsive baby talk with their caregivers and other family members around them, to those that haven’t”, says Dr. Kalashnikova.

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