By Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at Atlanta Speech School

Grady Memorial Hospital has redefined the standard of care for babies with a groundbreaking initiative developed and tested in Grady over the past five years called Talk to me baby. Devotion to the idea of ​​”language nutrition” is central to Grady’s work.

With this new accent, Grady reframed what it means to have a healthy birth. To date, over 6,700 families of Grady Babies have benefited from this revised standard.

The brain is built over time, starting before birth and continuing through adulthood. During the first three years of life, this growth is exponential, with over a million neural connections formed every second. Language-centric ecosystems, through which language nutrition is seamlessly provided, make the most of this rapid growth, when the brain is only receptive. TWMB (Talk With Me Baby) strengthens these ecosystems through deeper language engagement between parent and child from the start, with support from every adult the family meets in the hospital.

“Talk With Me Baby is not just a program at Grady,” says Denise Mayhan, director of practice operations for TWMB, “It is embedded in our daily interactions with our patients and their families and in the way we greet each Grady Baby around the world. The foundation of early brain development and all future learning begins even before a baby is born. This makes language nutrition an essential part of a healthy birth that our staff and families fully embrace. .

Talk With Me Baby, now becoming a national initiative, focuses on early language development that aligns with early brain growth. Grady has fully integrated the principles and practices of TWMB, placing them at the heart of the entire perinatal ecosystem – from prenatal care and classes to postpartum care. Thanks to TWMB, every family leaves the hospital knowing that they play a vital role in the development of their baby’s brain and learn to play this role.

National experts took note. “I was amazed at how well TWMB was infused into all of Grady’s staff – doctors, nurses, medical support staff, receptionists, custodial staff, etc.,” says Walter Gilliam, PhD, Director from the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy, Yale School of Medicine, who observed the ecosystem in action. “It seemed like everyone at Grady understood the importance of interacting with babies from birth and supporting parents in their interactions with their newborns.”

Since becoming Talk With Me Baby’s flagship birthing hospital in 2017, TWMB’s practices and principles have been fully integrated into all routine perinatal care. Since then, 7,500 new hires have been oriented on the TWMB approach and 1,200 within women’s and children’s health services have been trained as coaches.

This system-wide approach to adopting powerful new practices has helped serve as a model for Literacy and Justice for All (LJFA), a community-wide collaboration now in its second year. The creation of this language-centric ecosystem is led by the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy with Marietta City Schools and other partners, funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta with support from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and coordinated by Learn4Life .

Literacy and Justice for All, which will expand to Atlanta over the coming year, begins with Talk With Me Baby and is part of a larger effort to reform and support early childhood education in the city of Atlanta. In his first State of the City address, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens pledged to “make Atlanta the best place in the country to raise a family.” Dickens has committed to a $20 million public-private partnership in which $5 million will come from the city of Atlanta and an additional $5 million from Atlanta Public Schools. Dickens asked the private sector to match that money with $10 million. Centraide responded to this call with a commitment of $4.5 million.

LJFA focuses on bringing language and literacy to every child to ensure they are proficient readers by the end of third grade and on the path to reading thorough. It does this by supporting the entire literacy continuum, beginning with the language nutrition commitment to every baby and every family developed by Grady. The goal in Marietta is to build a community-wide literacy ecosystem that spans from the WellStar Kennestone Hospital to child care and all elementary schools in Marietta City Schools.

We at WellStar are very pleased to be in the development/rollout phase of our Literacy and Justice for All initiative to ‘hardwire’ the importance of Talk With Me Baby and reading – making it an essential conversation and comfortable on every occasion. between clinicians and parents,” says Avril Beckford, MD, chief pediatrician at WellStar Health System. Denise Mayhem continues, “Integrated with initiatives such as Literacy and Justice 4 All, TWMB is becoming a movement that will help transform the lives of countless children and families in Metro Atlanta and beyond.

And now the movement has the opportunity to spread dramatically. This month, the Rollins Center expanded the reach of Talk With Me Baby by releasing the Talk With Me Baby Healthcare Onboarding Guide to the Cox Campus (, their free online learning community. This release will allow any hospital, anywhere to fully integrate TWMB as the first step to ensuring that all parents are equipped to provide their children with access to their best possible future.

Talk With Me Baby is being independently evaluated by the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Children’s Hospital Boston. Several national experts have called for its immediate and universal adoption, in part because of the powerful scientific logic behind it. Cox Campus makes it possible. Dr. Gilliam implores: “Babies don’t have time to wait, and neither do we.

for more information contact Nadia JonesEdD, Director of Partnerships, Rollins Center for Language & Literacy.

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