Talk, read, sing, repeat.
A pediatrician’s prescription to parents.
San Francisco, CA — It’s an unusually sunny October day when Chelsea Clinton joins pediatrician Dr. Neeti Doshi at Zuckerburg San Francisco General Hospital to announce the expansion of Too Small to Fail’s early literacy campaign.
There they meet 4-day-old baby boy Lance and his mom Dominica, who are at San Francisco General Hospital’s Children’s Health Center for their first well-baby visit. There are so many questions from this new mom: how often to feed, when to start a sleep schedule, and when to contact the doctor in the event of an emergency, just to name a few.
Every baby is different, but when it comes to Lance’s early brain and language development, doctor’s orders at this hospital remain consistent: talk, read, and sing with your baby from birth. These simple actions nurture the early bonds parents share with their babies and have long-term benefits on their early brain and language development.
A mission to transform patients’ lives
Just two years prior, Dr. Doshi piloted the hospital’s partnership with Too Small to Fail to help pediatricians provide consistent guidance for their patients on the critical importance of the early years in a child’s brain development. Too Small to Fail gave a clear message to encourage parents to talk, read, sing, play, and bond with their babies from birth – along with a tote bag full of children’s books, music, baby clothing, and parent resources to help them get started.
“It’s so important for parents to hear from their doctor, someone they trust deeply and see countless times over their child’s life, that we care as much about their brain development as we do vaccines, blood draws, or other developmental milestones,” says Dr. Doshi. “All parents – regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or what adversities they face – are eager to learn how to support their child so they can reach their full potential.”
“Too Small to Fail and our clinic were aligned from the start on the importance of bringing this message and mission to our patients, and we’ve seen that it can really make a difference,” says Dr. Doshi.
She has the data to back it up. A recent study conducted on the effectiveness of this work showed that 80% of parents reported that they were talking, reading, and singing more since meeting with their health care provider and receiving Too Small to Fail’s materials. And, most parents (84%) also reported noticing a change in their child’s behavior since receiving the materials, including their child talking more, being more interactive, and showing a greater interest in reading.
The success of this pilot drove Dr. Doshi to expand its reach, this time to the Labor and Delivery Unit, where the hospital can reach even more families with this critical message. In October 2018, postpartum nurses, midwives, and physicians were trained to share information and tools with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their children’s early brain and language development. And, each newborn and family discharged from the hospital will receive Too Small to Fail’s tote bags with evidence-based early childhood development materials.
Photos from the field
Redefining what it means to be a partner and a pediatrician
“What I have loved most about our clinic’s collaboration with Too Small to Fail is how together we are stretching the imagination of how clinic-community partnerships can create long lasting impact for our patients lives,” says Dr. Doshi.
Indeed, Dr. Doshi is part of a growing community of partners who are not only advocating the importance of early learning but also helping families receive the free tools and resources to help give their children the strongest possible start in school and in life. From the pediatrician’s office to the playground, from the diaper bank to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic, and the library to the laundromat, Too Small to Fail – with the help of Dr. Doshi and so many others – is making small, everyday moments meaningful for parents and their children.
And their impact continues to grow. In communities across the country, Too Small to Fail is working with more than 15 clinics, and has integrated early literacy messages and resources in over 5,000 laundromats, 450 playgrounds, and 200 community-based diaper banks nationwide.
“Too Small to Fail brought that message and mission to our clinic and it has transformed our patients lives”Dr. Neeti Doshi
Too Small to Fail shares the message that every conversation, cuddle, story, and song that parents and caregivers share with their children – right from the start – matters and helps build the foundation for lifelong learning and positive relationships with others.
Dr. Doshi says while it may seem intuitive, “helping parents understand their critical role in their child’s brain development takes a deliberate acknowledgement of its importance and experience beyond a residency training program. Too Small to Fail plays a critical role in this space.”
“Most families I see want a better future for their child – a better life than what they had. Too Small to Fail has empowered us to provide tools—not just advice or reassurance but something hands-on that parents can use. That’s what makes the difference.”