New parents in York have been encouraged to find out more about how playing and singing with their children can help develop their baby’s brain and help build and strengthen bonds between them

The NSPCC’s Look, Say, Sing, Play campaign was launched across the UK during lockdown to help parents with children under the age of two, and has already engaged parents across the country.

This month, City of York Council is sharing its own Look, Say, Sing, Play message, and calling on parents across the city to find out more.

Parents are encouraged to Look at what their baby is focusing on and how they react, Say what they’re doing and copy the sounds their baby makes, Sing along to their favourite tune and Play simple games and see what their baby enjoys.

Mick is a father of three – Sophie, six, Lily, five, and Iris, two. He found out about Look, Say, Sing, Play through a local Early Start course run by Family Learning, and said it had helped Iris develop her speaking skills to the extent where she was helping her older sister develop too.

He said: “It’s been good, Iris and I have stayed pretty regular with it through our Early Start classes on Zoom. She’s getting really talkative now.

“Lily is really struggling with speech and behind where other children her age are, but her speech is improving because Iris’s speech is improving. Iris is three years younger but speaks better than Lily, but she’s bringing her on as they’re playing together and picking stuff up together.”

Mick said the sessions had also helped him with his eldest daughter Sophie, who is autistic.

He said: “It’s just given a lot of support on how to help your children to develop, it’s good to come along every week and get ideas, because sometimes you are a bit lost.

“We walk down the street singing, we have a little song ‘Sophie, Sophie, watch the road’, and I’m sure people think I’m mad or something but it works. Getting an autistic girl to be aware and watch the road is a big step, she sings it back to me and it really helps, it works really well.”

Nathalie is a mum of four, and started attending Look, Say, Sing, Play – Early Start sessions with her third child, Joshua.

She said: “Until somebody sits you down and tells you how much just playing and singing with your child helps build their brain, I don’t think you realise.

“When I first started going, Joshua didn’t want to sit and play with me, and I didn’t really know what to do or how to engage with a child that didn’t want to play with me. Look Say Sing Play helped us form quite a nice little bond being able to sit and play and do different things, and we can sit and play together all day now. I would definitely recommend it to other parents, it’s definitely been worthwhile.”

Helen Westerman, Head of Local Campaigns for the NSPCC, said: “It sounds really obvious, but the science behind it proves these games and interactions help parents and children bond while also improving the child’s mind.

“Building a bond together is something that does come out through Look Say Sing Play, and that’s what we want for all parents in York. We know it’s not always easy, and it might not always come naturally so it’s really lovely to hear how this has helped Mick and Nathalie.”

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “We’re really excited to launch this campaign to help support all our parents and carers. Covid has brought additional pressures to those with young children, besides reducing their opportunities to get out and meet other parents.

“The Look Say Sing Play campaign gives parents lots of tips and hints on how to incorporate brain-building interactions into the everyday life of babies and young children. The brain connections that are created as a result of these positive interactions help to support language development, and many other essential skills, so it’s never too early to start that building process.”

A series of YouTube videos are already available to share these tips and explain how each game helps children’s brain development, and four out of five parents said Look, Say, Sing, Play helped them better understand why quality interactions improved their babies’ development.

Angie Taylor is a Family Learning Tutor with City of York Council and said the Early Start groups meant parents can share thoughts and ideas and really bring Look, Say, Sing, Play to life.

She said: “It’s all child-led, so it’s almost giving you permission to sit back and not plan loads of stuff, and just watch what they’re interested in and go with it, sing about it, play a game around it. That’s what I love about it, it’s so simple, so easy, anybody can do it anytime, anywhere, you don’t need lots of stuff planned.

“I wish it had been around when my two were babies. I’m quite a sing-song person from being a primary school teacher, but if I’d known that it was going to be so powerful to sing to them and be so child-led, looking at what they’re focused on as babies and what they’re starting to show an interest in as they get bigger, I would’ve done it a lot more, and I think it would’ve helped me through what can be a really difficult time.”

If you’d like to join the free virtual parents’ launch event on Monday, October 19 at 10am, go to or visit for more information including free weekly brain-building tips.