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When should I start focusing on language development?

Babies start the language learning process even before they are born! They hear the sounds of your language and the rhythm of speech from within the womb and start to recognise familiar voices.

Research has also shown that babies will even remember books read to them in the womb!

Whilst children don’t typically start talking until around their 1st birthday (although each child is different), they will start communicating long before this. And they’ll need you to help them build the foundation skills needed to develop language from day 1. Here’s how you can help:

🔸Read Books, Songs and chat to them in your belly. 🤰Babies in the womb will start to hear from 18 weeks. By week 24 babies have been shown to respond to voices and sounds.

🔸Talk to them - At first they won’t understand but talking to them about what you can see and what you’re doing during the day will provide great exposure to language, helping them learn.

🔸Have back and forth conversations. They won’t make sense but pretend they do. Respond to their babbling in a way you would if you understood what they were saying. Make eye contact and use natural pauses to allow them to respond. This teaches conversational rules, like turn taking.

🔸Use a singsong, high pitched voice. This is called infant direct speech or parent-ease. It grasps babies attention, builds a better bond between you both, helps them discriminate sounds and learn sentence structure and vocabulary.

🔸Play Games. Play peek a boo, or round and round the garden to teach them turn taking and attention and listening skills- important foundation skills for talking.

🔸Watch their gestures and fill in for them. If they reach to a cup, ask ‘do you want the cup?’. If they point at an animal or object label it ‘a dog!’. When they wave say ‘bye bye’. Teach them signs (Makaton etc or make your own up) and make gestures when you sings songs.

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