Press Releases

Research unlocks the secrets of 'baby language' – University of Reading

Release Date : 30 July 2004

babyFrom gurgles and giggles to grasping at fingers, a new video researched by a University of Reading academic will help parents learn to read baby language. Produced by the NSPCC, it is hoped that the video will support parents who are having problems such as helping their baby sleep and crying. While crying is a baby's primary tool to attract attention, the video shows how by observing a baby's body language parents and carers can learn to recognise early signs of displeasure or stress. By understanding the signs and signals that babies give from birth, parents can adjust their routines and behaviours to best match the individual needs and sensitivities of their child. This method can help parents build an even stronger bond with their baby and ease the stress of parenthood. The Social Baby video was researched by Professor Lynne Murray, from the University's School of Psychology, with assistance from health visitor Liz Andrews. It is published by the Children's Project and produced by the NSPCC. Professor Murray said: "The tips in the video are the result of many years of listening to parents, observing babies and finding out what works. It is not just for those who are having difficulties but also those who want to deepen their relationship and bring up a more contented baby." The Children's Project is run by Clive and Helen Dorman who wanted to make Lynne's research accessible to all. They found it difficult to find the right advice when they had a sensitive and challenging baby themselves. "Most of us set out to be the best parent we can be but it's not always easy," said Clive. "Discovering Lynne's research made us realise how different our own experience would have been had we only known at the time. We are determined to make this information available to as many parents as possible. Even experienced parents can find it difficult and stressful at times and many feel ill-prepared for a new baby. "New parents should know they are not alone if they feel vulnerable. Parenting is the single most demanding and time-consuming task we can take on, yet it is something we do without any training." The Social Baby video will also assist professionals such as midwives and health visitors who support new parents. The NSPCC has funded the video as part of its ongoing FULL STOP campaign and protecting babies and toddlers public awareness initiative. This latest NSPCC drive aims to raise awareness of 'positive parenting' skills and to remind parents that babies and toddlers are not naughty but normal. Mary Marsh NSPCC director and chief executive said: "Babies are the most vulnerable group of children and everyone can play a role in working toward a society where all children are loved, cared for and able to fulfil their potential. Families should feel able to reach out for help and support when they need it." Copies of the video cost £18.50 with postage and packing. Send a cheque to NSPCC Publications, Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH, call 0207 825 2775, or buy online by credit/debit card at NSPCC Inform, ENDS Professor Lynne Murray is available for interview. Please contact Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer, on 0118 378 7388 or email: For further information, you can also call Vicky Hardman on 0207 825 7403 at the NSPCC. Notes to editors • Review copies of the video are available on request. Stills from the video and the front cover image are also available. • The video's contributors and authors are available for interview. Cases studies from the video include: - "I thought my baby was being deliberately naughty" - "I thought my baby didn't love me" - "After four children, we thought we knew everything about parenting but why was it so difficult to communicate to our fifth child?" • The video is produced and funded by the NSPCC. • This Social Baby video is based on the book The Social Baby (2000) by Lynne Murray and Liz Andrews and published by the Children's Project. Lynne Murray is a Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Reading and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Cambridge. Liz Andrews is a health visitor and counsellor with over 20 years in the NHS, assisted with the book. • The Children's Project is an independent publishing company set up by Clive and Helen Dorman dedicated to supporting the family and improved outcomes for children. For more information visit The NSPCC's purpose is to end cruelty to children. Its vision is of a society where all children are loved, valued and able to fulfil their potential. It seeks to achieve cultural, social and political change - influencing legislation, policy, practice, attitudes and behaviours for the benefit of children and young people.


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