"Embedding educational information in baby books is a low-cost, easy way to scale up intervention that could improve health and well-being for parents and children," says Stephanie Reich, UCI associate professor of education.

UCI-led team studying use of baby books to improve parenting skills and child outcomes

With a $2.9 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Stephanie Reich, UCI associate professor of education, and Natasha Cabrera, associate professor of human development at the University of Maryland, are principal investigators for a study evaluating the effectiveness of embedding educational information in baby books that mothers and fathers read to their kids. Greg Duncan, UCI Distinguished Professor of education, is co-investigator. “If shown to be successful, this will be an easy-to-implement and cost-effective intervention – and one that all young children will enjoy,” Reich said. “They love to be read to, delight in hearing their parents’ voices and relish the colorful images on the pages.” She and her team have developed professionally illustrated board books – targeted to babies and toddlers 9 to 30 months old – that include recommendations in English and Spanish from the American Academy of Pediatrics. “These focus on how parents can work together and provide guidelines for reducing preventable injuries, techniques to support language development and teach early math skills, and strategies for managing behavior, such as tantrums,” Reich said. The study will assess whether the books increase knowledge about child development, improve co-parenting skills, and help mothers and fathers feel more effective and less stressed. It’s open to parents who live together and have a first child younger than 9 months old. Participating families can earn up to $480 and will receive free books. For more information, email BabyBooks2@uci.edu or call 949-824-8864.

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