Bringing a child into this world is a beautiful privilege . . . an exhausting, terrifying, messy, confusing, beautiful privilege. For anyone in the midst of guiding a newborn through those first few months of life it can be difficult to avoid falling asleep standing up, let alone worry about that child’s future vocabulary.
Turns out even in those earliest of days, reading, talking, and singing to children can have a significant impact on early learning, especially given that a child’s brain develops to approximately 80% of its capacity by the time that child is three years old. And, dismayingly, according to the people behind a new child development project, there is research that shows kids who grow up in affluent households hear 30 million more words than kids from low-income homes.
The new project from the Bay Area Council, Clinton Initiative-backed Too Small to Fail and agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners has eschewed a traditional PSA awareness campaign in favor of products aimed to spur more significant and grassroots impact. “Talking Is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” is a children’s clothing line of onesies, blankets, and tote bags designed to gently remind parents to do just that.
The baby blanket features whimsical designs with song suggestions (Twinkle twinkle . . .) and conversations starters (“Tomorrow we will . . .”) that gently remind parents to engage their baby in different ways.
Agency co-chairman and partner Jeff Goodby says it all started when he was asked to think about doing a PSA or outdoor ad campaign around this issue. “I went back to the agency and basically said, ‘Let’s do anything but a PSA and outdoor campaign,'” says Goodby. “We really thought hard about what would really be different and what’s really going to change behavior is something that happens at the point of contact, in this case the parent and child. But how do you remind someone in that moment to talk to their child?”
Creatives worked with child psychologists to figure out what to say on the clothes to encourage people to talk about colors, the sky, everything around them, whatever helps them look into the baby’s eyes and talk to them, making it an engaging moment.
Produced by Oaklandish, the line will initially be given to new parents in the Oakland area, but it’s already caught the attention of Hillary Clinton and the Too Small to Fail initiative and there are plans underway to expand it nationally.