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The Before Words Project in Highland encourages parents to consider how they can interact with their babies from the earliest opportunity to support their development and learning and help build positive relationships between them. This complements Getting it right for every child – putting the needs of children at the centre from the very start.  The project provides parents with key messages for before and after birth.  These are about talking to the bump and after baby is born, face to face.  The key messages include using a tuneful and interesting voice, having a quiet time to talk, singing and playing music, and pausing and waiting for the baby to respond. 

Evidence of Improvement

Early Years Collaborative quality improvement tests demonstrated that parents who received Before Words information were:

  • five times more likely to talk to their babies,

  • eight times more likely to use a tuneful and interesting voice,

  • three times more likely to dedicate a quiet time to talk with their baby and;

  • four times more likely to sing or play music for their babies.   

Next Steps

Since April 2015 and following this improvement testing, every mum attending scan visits in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness has been provided with the Before Words information so they understand why and how to interact with their babies to give them the best start in life.  This amounts to around 2500 parents annually.  Staff from the Family Team then follow this up with some further information once the baby is born and all early years staff are trained to reinforce these messages and provide additional support if required.

Growing Up in Scotland

As the Growing Up in Scotland report highlights, supporting parenting skills can help protect children against the impact of adversity in later life and a rich home learning environment can improve cognitive development for all children.