Using a randomized control trial, we are testing the following strategies to increase parents’ use of the Talk to Your Baby program and related early language and literacy resources:


These BE interventions will be implemented in the Harlem branch of the citywide Newborn Home Visiting Program (NHVP), which serves more than 1,000 new mothers annually. To test the intervention’s impact, we will compare outcomes for two groups of parents, those randomized to receive the BE interventions and those who do not. The design allows separate assessment of the impacts of receiving any BE intervention and the cumulative effects over the infant’s first 6 months of life as distinct from the effects of the auto-enrollment/texting intervention alone.

The premise of these existing early language education interventions is that they will alter parents’ actual language behaviors with their infant. Can such BE interventions increase parent uptake of such interventions as well as increase positive language interactions with their infants? Two innovative data collection strategies will provide a window into the infant’s home environment: we will use text message responses to measure self-reported parenting behavior; and we will use LENA audio recorders to assess naturalistic early language interactions in the home.

beEll-NYC Theory of Change

Starting in fall 2017, we will recruit mothers of infant’s at approximately their 4th-6th birthday to gather audio data from the infant’s home environment. Recruited mothers (n ~ 50; half experimental and half control) are participants in the larger beELL-NYC study. LENA recorders are worn by the infant in comfortable custom clothing.

We are evaluating not just the quantity of language surrounding the child but also quality. The audio data will be analyzed via LENA algorithms for that identify speakers and provide outcomes related to adult word count, the number of parent-child conversational turns, and the amount of ambient television/electronics noise. In addition to these auto-generated measures, we will transcribe the longest conversational turn identified by LENA, including the number of different word types, the ratio of words to word types, and the Literate Language subscale of the Monitoring Indicators of Scholarly Language scale (MISL).

Plus, data from these audio recordings of caregiver-infant interactions will be synchronized with data collection of parenting self-reported behaviors via text message collected simultaneously with the timing of the audio recording.

Our goal is to triangulate across these low-cost, unobtrusive measurement strategies to inform how city-wide early language campaigns might impact the early language parenting behaviors, such as talking, reading and singing to young children.