The former first daughter chats with PEOPLE – and Elmo! – about why it's so important to talk, read and sing to babies
New mom Chelsea Clinton talks about bonding with her baby Charlotte – “I’m so happy being a mom” – and shares why she’s so passionate about talking, reading and singing to her baby, in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE and video featuring the former first daughter and Elmo.
“I have a beautiful baby daughter named Charlotte,” a beaming Clinton tells Elmo, later sharing, “I try really hard to be a good mommy. I think it’s the most important job in the world.”
“My husband Marc and I read to Charlotte every night, and when her grandparents come over, they read to her as well,” she says. “It’s so important that little kids, kids Charlotte’s age, and kids your age, Elmo, be read to and talked to and sung to. It helps their brains develop.”
The 34-year-old mom, who recently went back to work as Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, is hoping to spread the word that talking is teaching – through a new partnership between the foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative, Sesame Workshop and Text4baby – by offering parents and caregivers helpful tips and links to how-to videos via text.
It’s also advice that Clinton clearly heeds herself. From the moment Charlotte wakes up, Clinton tells PEOPLE, “I start talking to her, when I’m changing her diaper in the morning and when we’re picking out what clothes she’s going to wear for the day.”
“I read her the news every morning,” Clinton says, adding with a smile, “She agrees with me on everything right now.”
Chelsea isn’t the only one building her daughter’s brainpower. Her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, loves to read Mo Willems’s pigeon books to Charlotte. “My husband has so much fun taking on all these different characters,” she says. “Everyone ends up giggling.”
“We all kind of compete to see who’s going to read her stories,” she says. Hillary also sings to her granddaughter, even after Chelsea, as a toddler herself, famously objected to Hillary’s singing voice. “I’m like, ‘I’m so sorry, Mom,’ ” says a chagrined Chelsea now. “I love watching her sing to Charlotte.”
As for the former president, he’s happy giving Charlotte talking tours of Chelsea and Marc’s NYC apartment. “He loves walking up and down the hallway with her (past our bookshelves) every time pointing out a different book to her and telling her that someday she’ll be old enough to read that book herself. It’s so sweet.”
While Clinton sat down with Elmo to encourage parents and caregivers to remember to talk, read and sing to babies, she also admits, she hopes one day her work with the “real-life” version of one of Charlotte’s favorite toys will earn her “cool-parent points” at home.
But ask Clinton if she has any other news to share – like, might Charlotte’s grandma run for president in 2016? – and the talking turns coy. Says Chelsea: “No, I’m waiting too. It’s really sweet how my mom is just so clearly happy being a grandma and I know she’s going to be a great grandma, whatever other choices she makes in her life.”
For more information, go to talkingisteaching.org and text BABY or BEBE for Spanish to 511411 to sign up for parenting tips.