Mothers were recruited after giving birth at hospitals in four metropolitan areas: New York City, greater New Orleans, the Twin Cities, and the Omaha metropolitan area. Eligible mothers who chose to participate completed a baseline interview about their work, education, family background, household income, relationship with the baby’s father, mental health, and neighborhood of residence. View the recruitment materials.


Quantitative Data Collection at birth and ages 1, 2, and 3


12-month visit: Approximately one year after the child’s birth, each mother will be invited to participate in an in-home follow-up visit. Information about the child’s health and development, maternal health, family income, and family life will be collected. Additionally, mother and child interactions will be videotaped during a brief ten minute interaction, and infant brain activity will be assessed using innovative mobile EEG technology.


24-month visit: Approximately two years after the child’s birth, each mother will be invited to participate in a second in-home visit. Information collected will be similar to that collected at the 12-month visit.


36-month visit: Approximately three years after the child’s birth, families will be invited to local university settings to complete questionnaires related to child development and mothers’ life experiences, and we will directly assess children’s cognitive and emotional development and brain function.


Qualitative Data Collection at ages 10, 19, 27, and 40 months


When the child is between 8 and 12 months, a random sample of 80 mothers in two of the sites will be invited to participate in the qualitative study. Participating mothers will be drawn from both the high and low-cash groups. Three waves of semi-structured interviews will be conducted with mothers every nine-months, with a final interview being conducted after 40 months (when the cash gifts have stopped). The topics covered in the interview will vary over time, but will focus on the meaning and experience of the cash gifts with emphasis on family finances, employment, home environment, child care, stress, family support, as well as parental values and future dreams.

More information about the Baby’s First Years measures and analysis plan


The Baby’s First Years study is registered with and the Registry of Efficacy and Effectiveness and the AEA RCT Registry. Registration of study measures before data are viewed by researchers makes public the hypotheses predicted by the research team prior to data collection. Because Baby’s First Years is a multi-year study, new measures are continuously under consideration, and all measures will be thoroughly piloted for feasibility and participant burden prior to data collection. Thus, while the Baby’s First Years principal investigators clearly laid out hypotheses for the quantitative data prior to the launch of the study, some of the measures used to test those hypotheses may change from what was initially registered. With the advent of new measures and technological advances, along with information about feasibility of procedures gleaned from pilot testing, it is likely that the final battery of surveys and assessments will be revised. We will make every effort to transparently update this website, as well as our entries on both registration websites, as soon as changes are finalized. In no case will planned measures be changed after analysis of quantitative data from study participants.


Qualitative interviews will be audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed. First, all interviews will be coded using a pre-established set of themes to examine issues that answer key research questions. Second, the research team will take an inductive approach, using line-by-line open coding on a subsample of transcripts, which allows us to encounter unexpected themes.


to view the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness registry.

for study materials, including consent forms and the baseline survey.

to view the registry.

to view the American Economic Association's registry.