Babbling Babies

Experiences of an Early Communication and Literacy Programme for Infants

Babbling Babies uses parent-child interaction therapy designed to improve everyday communication between parents and their babies, laying the foundation for better language outcomes. This programme, which is part of an early intervention and prevention initiative for language and reading, is offered to all parents who take their babies for their 9 month developmental check-up in a disadvantaged area of Cork city.  Working in partnership with the Let’s Grow Together Infant & Childhood Partnerships CLG, a project team from UCC will conduct research with families who participate in the Babbling Babies programme and explore how it affects the way in which they read with their babies. On the basis of this, the project team will identify how we can best research the efficacy of the programme in the future.

Aims and Objectives

The project aims to develop objective measures of efficacy of the Babbling Babies programme. Efficacy measures can be challenging to collect and implement, and so it is important to first establish how feasible some of the measurement methods are for all involved. The results of this will inform later efficacy studies of the programme.

The project’s main objectives are to:

  • Document and standardise the protocol for a Babbling Babies session in order to measure treatment fidelity.
  • Pilot and evaluate measures to collect baseline and follow-up data on communication and interactions between children and parents during book reading.
  • Collect stakeholder views on Babbling Babies and their experiences of taking part in the research.
  • Develop best practice guidelines for early developmental check-ups that incorporate multiple disciplines.

The project will use a mixed methods approach including the collection of baseline and follow-up data from parents, comparisons with national data sources (Growing Up in Ireland) and interviews with parents, Public Health Nurses and Oral language Development Officers who took part in the programme.


O’Toole, C., Martin, S. Curtin, M., Hart, J. & Walsh, G. (2023, December). Babbling babies: An evaluation of an early communication and literacy programme for infants: A feasibility study. [Oral Presentation], Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists biennial conference.

O’Toole, C., Martin, S. Curtin, M., Hart, J. & Walsh, G. (2023, September). Measuring the efficacy of an of an early communication and literacy programme for infants: A feasibility pilot study. [Poster Presentation], COMH Futures Research Conference, University College Cork.

Walsh, G. Martin, S. Curtin, M., Hart, J. & O’Toole, C., (2023, July). Measuring the efficacy of an early communication and literacy programme for infants: Babbling Babies. [Invited Lectures], World Infant Mental Health Conference, Dublin . 

Funder & Dates

This project is funded under the New Foundations 2021 Programme from December 2021-September 2023.

Project Team

Dr Ciara O’Toole (PI)(Speech And Hearing Sciences), Dr Margaret Curtin (School of Nursing and Midwifery) and Dr Shirley Martin (School of Applied Social Studies) working in partnership with Let’s Grow Together! Infant & Childhood Partnerships CLG Speech and Language Therapists Grace Walsh, Sally O’Sullivan and Jennifer Harte.

For further details contact:


Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

Top Floor, Carrigbawn/Safari Building, Donovan Road, Cork, T12 YE30