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Research and policy

Research: Talk To Your Baby's Face to Face research project

19 Oct 2010

Talk To Your Baby, with funding from the DfE Children, Young People and Families grant programme, has undertaken an innovative two-year research project with parents and carers.

The Face to Face project aimed to identify key messages for parents and carers about communicating with babies and young children. It also examined the most effective ways of promoting these messages. The project will inform the strategy for the forthcoming National Year of Speech, Language and Communication, as well as future TTYB work.

This page contains the background and results of the literature review and qualitative research.


A focus group of experts within the field were consulted over the course of the project and advised on the progress of the research.

The project comprised three main stages.

Stage one

Stage one comprised:

  • a synthesis of evidence for why communicating with babies matters in order to produce a definitive profile of the main issues from all relevant disciplines, including education, linguistics, psychology and parenting.
  • a knowledge review to identify the challenges and barriers for parents and carers in communicating with babies.

Research in this stage sought to answer the following questions:

  • Why does communicating with babies matter?
  • What are the most effective ways of encouraging parents and carers to communicate with babies?
  • What gets in the way of parents and carers communicating with babies and young children?

Stage one was completed in November 2009 by Dr Keith Topping and a team from the University of Dundee. 

Stage two

To inform stage three, discussion and readings took place to provide an analysis of effective ways of disseminating messages through public campaigns in order to determine those most likely to encourage parents and carers to communicate with babies.

Stage three

Real-world research was undertaken with parents and carers to determine the key messages and assess the most effective ways of promoting the messages to improve communication outcomes for children.

Solutions Research undertook this work in July/August 2010.


Literature review

We have published a paper of the highlights of the literature review

Three key areas were identified:

  • Contingency, i.e. babies and carers being "tuned in" to reciprocal communication
  • The nature and types of parent-infant interaction
  • The importance of the home literacy environment

In addition, the work looks at when and how much parents talk to children, and if it makes a difference; explores parental influences; explores the role of siblings and peers; and outlines Talk To Your Baby’s emerging thinking on messaging.

Qualitative research

We have published a management summary of the qualitative research report.

The summary looks at types of communication between parent and child and the barriers to communication; current awareness of, and attitudes to, messages relating to communication; and some key messages. It then goes on to look at targeting and channels.

Key findings include how much parents want to do their best for their child but acknowledge that talking is not a top concern. They would not seek information about communication proactively, but are interested to hear about it.  Information about brain development is new, and it excites and motivates them. They do not want to be told they are their child’s first teacher but do want to be told what to do and how to do it.

Tags: Talk To Your Baby

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