Thursday, 26 April 2007
Matter of Concern to Member
Joe O'Toole (Independent)
I appreciate the Minister staying for the two minutes. Mothers of newborn babies leaving hospitals in Dublin get what is called a bounty pack, which, among other things, contains a box of nappies and a few yoghurt cartons. What I am proposing today is in the context of the document which I believe the Health Service Executive recently sent to every house in Ireland. This bounty pack is done by private tender and is administered through the voluntary maternity hospitals in Dublin. It is not paid for by the HSE.
The HSE should now also produce an educational pack which would, essentially, contain an information booklet and a sample toy. The booklet would get new parents interested and help them understand that the educational process begins on day one. It would contain simple and easy things, such as stressing how to communicate with the baby or the importance of eye contact, smiles, talking, singing and introducing babies to the five senses — seeing and listening to things, speaking, taste, smell and touch. It would stress basic things and why they should be done. It is very simple, crucial and effective advice. It would keep stressing the fact that children are educated from day one and that a quiet room is usually not the best place for a baby. We want places with distractions to which they will respond and react and which they will grow with and understand. This is all positive.
That kind of pack, which allows parents to understand in simple terms how their children are being brought along at very low cost, would also help identify difficulties and the need for intervention. I could speak for half an hour but wish to respect my limit of two minutes. As the Minister is sitting here by coincidence, I wish to say that the HSE might consider doing something. The executive has dealt very nicely with the issue of education in the document it has sent to households, but it might produce something for mothers of newborn babies. This is not my idea. I plundered it from a woman who wrote to me suggesting that this might be a very good idea. I thought it was a simple, effective and worthwhile measure that could be done at little or no cost. I will leave it with the Minister to ponder over lunch.