Baby TALK (Teaching Activities for Learning and Knowledge) is a community effort designed to encourage parents in the nurture of their small children. Headquartered in Decatur, Illinois, Baby TALK has been serving parents and young children since 1986. Baby TALK has been serving families in the Tuscaloosa/Northport area since 2000 and has the distinction of becoming the
“First Baby TALK Community in Alabama.”
Baby TALK’s message to parents is that we believe they can give their children a wonderful start in life with an environment of “Language, Literature and Love.” New parents are provided with basic child development information and suggestions for developmentally appropriate activities. A gift book is given to parents to read aloud to their children, believing that reading aloud, more than any other single activity, will enhance the parent/child relationship as it encourages the child’s mental, social, and language development.
Baby TALK’s Rationale
In its efforts on behalf of families, Baby TALK will maintain its three basic goals:
1. to encourage parents in establishing a nurturing relationship with their children and to reinforce positive parenting practices;
2. to teach infant development information to parents in a timely and usable fashion in order to help them understand child behaviors;
3. to suggest developmentally appropriate activities for parents to enjoy with their children in order to enhance the child’s development as well as the parent-child relationship.
Baby TALK deals with every parent on the assumption that all parents care about their children and want what is best for them. Baby TALK promotes language interaction of all types, including an emphasis on reading to children of all ages.
Baby TALK is dedicated to a service delivery model which is readily accessible for families and which allows them to receive services meaningful for their needs rather than imposing an agenda which may not be as helpful to them. This will include efforts to go where parents are already; to health care providers, to human service agencies, to neighborhoods, and to homes.
Baby TALK serves as a resource to all parents raising children, but will commit more intensive efforts on behalf of parents whose children may be a risk for educational failure.
Baby TALK Hospital Visits
Baby TALK teachers visit every family who delivers a baby during the mother’s stay on the obstetric unit at DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center. The purpose of the visits is to encourage parents in establishing a nurturing relationship with their children, to teach infant development information to parents, and to suggest developmentally appropriate activities. At every Baby TALK visit, the teacher goes over a Newborn handout with each parent. Parents are allowed to choose a free book for their babies. They are also given a copy of Baby TALK’s parent manual Babies & Books: A Joyous Beginning. Parents are asked to fill out a parent information sheet, from which a computer file will be started on each family
Baby TALK Times
Baby TALK Times are way to deliver child development information and provide for parent child interaction within a support group format. Parents brings their 0-3 year old children as well as any other siblings. They are informal and conversational. Everyone sits on the floor, and plenty of available toys and books provide interest for toddlers. Parents are asked to share a success and challenge that they have faced with their children that week. The Baby TALK teacher shares a topic of discussion, and then fingerplays, nursery rhymes and simple games are introduced. The teacher models these activities and then steps into the background as parents and children enjoy them together.
Well Child/WIC Clinics
At Well Child Clinics, held at the Pediatric clinics at University Medical Center and Maude Whatley Health Center and the WIC Clinic held at the Tuscaloosa County Health Department, Baby TALK Teachers update parents about the stage of their child’s development, talk with them about the challenges and frustrations of that stage, and suggest positive interactions and play appropriate to that stage. Parents are given a well child handout appropriate to their child’s age. Because parent and child are together at the clinic, this presents an excellent opportunity for teachers to role model positive communication and play.
At the Prenatal Clinic held at Maude Whatley Health Center, Baby TALK works to give parents a sense of empowerment as they embark on the task of parenting. Our goals are to establish a relationship between Baby TALK & families prior to their child’s birth, provide expectant parents with an outlet for sharing concerns & gaining support, and to empower parents to be ready for their babies by sharing information about infant development & appropriate activities for babies and assisting parents in making homemade toys for their babies.
Baby TALK also:
- Sends eleven developmental newsletters to parents during the first three years of their child’s life
- Supports parenting classes for teen parents at area high schools
- Operates a Parent Resource Library that has parenting information and resources available for any family with young children
- Serves as a resource to many other agencies in Tuscaloosa County who provide services to families and children