This summer we offered Bookstart Coordinators the opportunity to receive free resources to enhance targeted work with families in their local authority.
These free resources consisted of a black and white booklet for babies, Bookstart Baby’s First Shapes, alongside a Congratulations card congratulating a family on the birth of their baby and introducing them to Bookstart and their new reading journey together.
We found that the booklet was particularly popular with health visitors who used it to talk about early attachment and bonding and how babies love to look at bold shapes and faces, particularly in contrasting colours. We hope the addition of the card will help signpost families to their health visitor, library or nursery to receive their Bookstart packs.
The booklets and cards will hopefully highlight the importance of reading together every day and encourage some families to think about this activity before they receive their first Bookstart pack. The limited funding available for these resources requires that they be utilised for targeted work with families that Coordinators feel will most benefit from receiving the additional resources.
Here is a snapshot of where Bookstart Coordinators around the country are planning to gift the free resources, and which partners including registrars, health visitors, midwives and others they are planning to work with, to share best practice and ideas for gifting with the rest of the country.
Margaret Street, Hertfordshire
In Hertfordshire, we had already purchased copies of the black and white book to give to families at their baby’s “new birth check”. All families are already receiving these. Across the majority of Hertfordshire the Bookstart Baby bag is also gifted at the same time. The new book / congratulations card packs are going to be used in the one district of Hertfordshire where the Bookstart Baby bag is gifted at 10 months via home visits. Families will receive the book/card at new birth. Health Visitors explain how the black and white images help the baby to focus, and how cuddling, talking and singing with their baby supports bonding, language development and how positive interactions from pre- birth for the first few years play a big impact on their child's development. This is based on key research and training is undertaken by all staff in Hertfordshire who work with children under five.
Along with the adorable photos of little Leo (2 weeks’ old!) and Connor shown above, Margaret also passed on these comments from Hertfordshire:
'Parents have been interested to hear about the black and white pictures and are pleased these are included in the pack.' (Health visitor)
'It has really helped me because I didn't know that babies at this small age would like stories. Now I know because my baby loves listening to them.' (Parent)
'Having books so early on (couple of weeks) certainly stimulated my baby and as a result I now have lots of books for her to use on a daily basis.' (Parent)
Kathryn Arthur, Wiltshire
As this was a one-off resource, which we could not gift to every family, we wanted to make sure they were used where they could have the most benefit. We gift our Bookstart Baby Packs at the 6-8 week check. After consulting with our various partners at a very timely Bookstart Partners’ meeting, it was decided that the health visitors would gift to families involved in the Universal Partnership Plus Programme (part of the Healthy Child Programme). Each family in this programme has extra weekly visits from a named health visitor during the early weeks following the birth of a baby. The health visitors will be gifting the resources at their first home visit which usually takes place when the baby is between 10-14 days old. So far the reaction from all the health visitors has been very positive and I quote: “Feedback from the Teams are that ideally they should be given to every new birth”.
Sharon “Kitt” Flenley, Luton
Luton has just received the congratulations card and black and white booklets. Very excited to have these and have already contacted our Flying Start team that are a new pilot team catering for families in targeted areas, from bump to three years. Our Health visitors really missed this booklet so I know we will have a scramble for this resource. I have also contacted the Teen pregnancy team as that is an area in Luton we tend to overlook so would be great to use these resources and make more contact to those families. The plan is to gift these booklets from as soon as families are seen and encourage that early bonding straight away. Exciting stuff!
Linda Clarke, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
When I read the email from Bookstart about the generous offer of black and white booklets to the borough, my first thought was that it is the exact number of premature babies treated in the NICU at the local hospital and had the idea that the black and white booklets could be an opportunity to develop links with the NICU team. I already have a good partnership with the hospital’s Play department who gift the relevant Bookstart packs to children on long stay wards. Contacting the NICU Unit Administrator is top of my to do list to arrange a meeting where I will take along some of the booklets as well as copies of ‘Hello Baby’ and ‘This Little Baby’ board books which I hope to gift to the unit, so the team can discuss the best way of gifting them to the families. Ideally I would love to be involved in the gifting process, possibly holding a Baby Rhyme Time/ Story Time session, but I can appreciate that it might not be appropriate as some of the babies may be very ill. If the NICU decide not to gift the booklets, I will also contact the Community Midwives who may be interested in gifting the booklets to premature babies once they have been discharged and are at home.
Cheryl Taafe, Thurruck
I have spoken to our lovely Health Visitors and we have started to look at the possibilities of the black and white booklets. I have currently only had a meeting with one area of our borough but they were very enthusiastic towards them and were discussing in their team which parents would benefit them most. They are planning to use them with many of their groups, including young mums and those that are part of the FNP. I have just asked them that they feedback to me in a month or so to tell me how they are getting on and what they think of the resources…and responses from parents and of course their babies.