Bridging the Word Gap 3.0

Community Partner #6:

Háblame Bebé


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Ashley Darcy Mahoney and Melissa Baralt


Háblame Bebé, a language-promoting phone application that encourages low-income Hispanic mothers to talk more to their children in their native Spanish with the goals of (1) improving their children’s early language environment, (2) promoting bilingualism, and (3) monitoring developmental milestones. The app was designed and tested across three phases as mandated by the US HRSA Bridging the Word Gap Challenge. 

Population Targeted:

low-income Hispanic mothers 


Research Objective:

We propose to implement into the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), the evidence-based phone app Háblame Bebé (Talk To Me Baby) through a randomized, controlled trial with 50 mother-child dyads in southern Florida. Háblame Bebé has been demonstrated to improve parent-child language interactions and to increase Hispanic sociolinguistic pride (i.e., feelings of pride towards being Hispanic and using Spanish), but has not been tested for use in home visiting programs. We hypothesize that layering this innovative Spanish-language parent education intervention into NFP standards of care will: (a) increase Spanish-speaking caregivers’ knowledge of language development and the importance of promoting bilingual language development; (b) increase mothers’ pride in using the home language in interactions with their young child; and (c) promote frequent, high-quality language interactions between primary caregivers and their children in the home language (i.e., Spanish). The underlying caregiver outcomes associated with the Háblame Bebé intervention should lead to overall improvements in early language environments of Hispanic children from low-income backgrounds and improved child development (one of the primary goals of NFP). Long-term benefits of the intervention may even support improved school readiness and later academic achievement (see significance).  


Talking to children in higher volumes and in both their native and secondary languages must start early and with their first and best teachers—their parents. Increased parent awareness of and access to evidence-based screening tools can also improve care providers-parent communication for the purpose of discovering parents’ concerns and improving observations of children’s development. By educating low-income Hispanic parents about 1) what to expect in their child’s development (and the benefits of monitoring development), 2) how they have an empowered role to promote bilingual language development, and 3) how to use Language Nutrition, the care provider-parent relationship can improve, and, in turn, enhance parent-child relationships. This can also improve the relationship between the provider and parent