Baby Books Project: Using Baby Books to Promote Maternal and Child Health

Investigator: Stephanie Reich (with PI Leonard Bickman and Victoria Risko, Vanderbilt University)

Graduate Student Researchers: Alejandra Albarran, Anamarie Auger, Emily Penner

Funding: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The Baby Books Project examines the efficacy of embedding educational information into baby books that first-time mothers read to their infants. This 3-group longitudinal study recruits first-time mothers in their third trimester of pregnancy and follows them until the child is 18 months of age. One group receives educational baby books, another group is given the same illustrated books with non-educational text, and the third group is not given any books. Thus, the effects of educational reading can be parsed from the effects of reading alone. The study aims to test whether embedding pediatric anticipatory guidance in picture books is an effective method for increasing maternal knowledge of child development and parenting strategies and if so, whether increases in this knowledge lead to changes in parenting behavior.

The study also assesses whether benefits of reading coupled with increased knowledge result in higher quality mother-child interactions and if so, whether increased knowledge and improved maternal-child interactions result in less maternal stress, increased maternal self-efficacy, increased breastfeeding, and better child outcomes (physical, linguistic, and cognitive). Home safety observations and medical chart audits help determine if safety precautions for injury preventions are being used, whether families are adherent to immunization schedules, and if infants' overall health is promoted by increased knowledge of pediatric recommendations for health promotion.

A cost-effectiveness analysis will assess the direct and indirect costs and possible savings that result from the baby books intervention.