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My Little Voice supports parents and babies

 Catherine Cunningham,  Mum Eilís, Baby Leo, Minister Mary Butler TD and Dr Ike Okafor Clinical Director

Caption: Catherine Cunningham,  Mum Eilís, Baby Leo, Minister Mary Butler TD and Dr Ike Okafor Clinical Director 


A new booklet has been produced to help parents to bond with their young baby while the child is in hospital.

My Little Voice is a booklet produced by the Speech and Language Therapy Department in Children’s Health Ireland and is for parents of babies who spend time as inpatients in the hospital. It aims to support parents and caregivers in developing responsive relationships with their babies while in hospital. Birth to three years is a critical period in childhood and research has shown that what happens during infancy can have substantial effects on both short- and long-term outcomes in learning, behaviour, and both physical and mental health.

Speech and Language Therapist Manager Catherine Cunningham, who led the development of the project with colleagues Eilís McClory and Christina Cotter, said:

“We know parents and caregivers who tune into the messages which their baby is sending are laying the foundations for their baby’s speech, language, and communication development. We also know that babies and children benefit from language-rich experiences and this benefit is seen in the school years and beyond, right into adulthood. We hope that this resource can make a substantial difference to the parent/caregiver who finds themselves in one of our hospitals for a longer than average stay.”


Dr Ike Okafor, Clinical Director in CHI, explained, “The foundations for infants' future health and well-being are laid down in the first years of life. Approximately 1,800 infants are admitted every year to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of Children's Health Ireland and many more to the infant wards and emergency departments. We are seeing the results of the isolation of the pandemic and the effect that had on children, through our Emergency Departments over the last year. It’s important we do all we can to support mental health at every stage of life. Early recognition, prevention and intervention for infant mental health is key and is also cost-effective.”

My Little Voice booklet is available for parents whose babies stay in CHI at Connolly, Crumlin, Tallaght, or Temple Street, through the Speech and Language Therapy departments in CHI.