Baby TALK (Teaching Activities for Learning and Knowledge) is a community effort designed to encourage parents in the nurturing of their infants and small children. New parents whose babies are born at McDonough District Hospital receive a hospital visit from a trained Baby TALK volunteer who presents them with a parent manual Babies and Books: A Joyous Beginning; a developmental newsletter, and a children’s board book of their choice. New parents are encouraged to begin immediately caring for their babies by:
- Holding, touching and cuddling them;
- Talking to them;
- Singing to them; and
- Reading to them.
Two months after going home, the family receives a follow-up newsletter with developmental information that encourages parents to continue reading aloud to their children. At one year, a birthday certificate and a newsletter with further developmental information is sent.
Baby TALK is a collaborative effort with McDonough District Hospital, libraries, service clubs, businesses, community individuals, and other parenting programs in the hospital district. The program functions solely on donations in order to furnish books and newsletters to the families.
Since its inception at MDH in July 1997, Baby TALK relies strictly on volunteers. There are approximately 15 dedicated volunteers who have been trained by the hospital and Baby TALK; and are committed to this program and its mission. A volunteer is scheduled to visit new moms and their babies every day, including weekends and holidays.
Baby TALK is headquartered in Decatur, IL, and was begun in 1986. It was designated a pilot for the Touchpoints project developed by T. Berry Brazelton of Harvard Medical School.