It's never too soon to talk to your child. Babies will even respond to voices in their mum’s tummies.
Don’t worry if you think they can’t understand you. You are teaching them new words by talking to them in a fun way and by waiting for them to try and talk back!
Listen and talk to the children you know in your lives. Teach them new words and about new things and give them time to respond to you. Let’s get talking together! You will find lots of ideas here to help you.
Talking Tuesdays is a monthly challenge. It is designed to give you fun ideas for practising language skills with your little one. Some are seasonal, but lots of them can be done at any time of year. Below you can find all of the Talking Tuesdays challenges from the year so far:
The Talking Tuesdays Summer Challenge was a weekly challenge designed to get you talking.
Make a wand!
Teddy Bear's picnic.
Make up a story
Let's get messy
Let's get creative
Playing face to face at your child’s level will really help them focus on your face, which helps them learn to talk.
Play helps babies to learn about themselves and the world around them. It is an important way to develop early communication and social skills.
It doesn’t have to involve toys. Young babies enjoy physical play such as gentle tickling, bouncing or counting fingers and toes. They also like simple and repetitive games such as 'clap hands' and 'hidey-boo'.
Even if your child or baby is very young, talk to them when you are playing together or when you are out and about. You can tell them the names of things, actions and people you see. For example, saying “look at the bus”, “it’s raining” or “oh no, we’re going to get wet!”.
Talking at meal times and when out shopping are also good opportunities for children to learn new words and phrases.
By reading together you are not just teaching your child to read. Sharing books is a great way to help your child’s talking. Why not make books part of your everyday routine?
Babies enjoy books from a very young age. In the early stages adults don’t need to read the whole story or turn every page. Just talk about the pictures that your baby is interested in. Babies enjoy bright coloured books with different shapes and textures, photographs or lifelike illustrations with simple, repetitive text.
If you can, be face-to-face with your child so you can see what they are interested in and they can see your face when you are talking about the story.
Sharing books is an ideal opportunity to have some quiet, one-to-one time with different family members. Turn off TV, music, phones and other background distractions to help your child listen and pay attention.
In familiar stories leave a gap in the sentence so your child can fill it. e.g. “I’ll huff and I’ll…” As your child gets older, encourage turn-taking by taking turns to turn the pages or retell the story.
You can use a book in different ways, such as drawing pictures, making a collage, acting it out, or talking about the feelings of the characters.
Be slow and clear when you are talking. Don’t be afraid to use a sing-song or funny voice when acting out the voices of the characters.
You can talk to your baby before they are born. They will be able to hear the rhythms and tone of your voice, so go on - talk to your bump! As soon as a baby is born they will start to hear and respond to the noises around them. Watch carefully and soon you will see they are listening to you too! You will already be showing them important skills they will need to learn to talk.
Gradually babies start to respond, particularly to their parent’s voices and faces. Show you are listening to them by looking at them, smiling and nodding.
Spend quiet time together without the distractions of TV, radio, music or phones so you can listen and respond to each other. Try and be face to face with your child at their level so they have chance to really look and focus on your face and gestures.
They may start to copy your facial movements e.g. sticking their tongues out. Show you are listening by copying this. You can start a first ‘conversation’ this way by leaving time for your baby to stick out their tongue and then responding back.
Later you can do the same with raspberry noises and speech sounds such as ‘bbb’ and ‘mmm’. Your baby will be learning the basics of conversations and talking from you.
Tell the names of things they see, such as “look… dog… woof”. Tell them the names of things they are interested in. Talk to them about actions and emotions, such as ” oh dear, you are tired” or “granny gone, bye granny”.
Give them plenty of time to talk. This is really hard for them! Listen to what they are trying to say, and try not to jump in too soon.
As your child starts to say a few real words, don’t worry if they don’t say things quite right at first. Listen carefully to what they are trying to say and just repeat it back the correct words. For example, if they say “bu” for bus say, “yes…a bus”. You can also add a word or two e.g. “bus.. a big bus” or “bus.. the bus is going , bye bye bus” etc.
Try not to ask too many questions at first. Instead, tell your children the names of things, actions and descriptions of things they experience. For example, say “that’s a soft ball” rather than “what’s that?”.
As their language skills improve (roughly at 3- 5 years, but this will depend on your child’s language stage) you can ask questions that allow them to extend their thinking. For example “I wonder what will happen next?”.
There are so many electronic devices to distract us from talking to each other - phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs to name a few. Using these can be fun, but children also need lots of practise listening and talking to other people. This helps them develop good language and social skills.
Young children find it hard to concentrate on more than two things at once. TV and other background noise make it hard for them to learn. You can help your child to develop good listening and talking skills if you:
The average 3-4 year old spends 27.5 hours each week watching TV, using the internet or playing electronic games. Reducing this will be support your child’s communication skills.
Keep your language alive by talking to your child in your first language. It’s good to grow up bilingual. It will help your child’s learning.
Be proud of who you are. Your first language is part of your identity. Your child needs it to talk to friends and family.
Speaking well in their own first language helps children learn other languages.
Information about dummies can be confusing, but it is thought that using dummies too much can delay children’s speech development. The following is based on advice given by the Lullaby Trust:
Some research suggests that using a dummy when putting a baby down to sleep could reduce the risk of sudden infant death.
If you choose to use a dummy, wait until breastfeeding is well established (at up to about four weeks old). Try to keep it for sleep times only and make sure it is part of your baby’s regular sleep routine.
Stop giving a dummy to your baby between six and 12 months. Six months is when your baby will start to experiment more with making speech sounds.
If your chid does use a dummy when they are awake, take it out when they are talking - either when they are making early communication noises and babble, or later, real words.
Don’t force your baby to take a dummy or put it back if they spit it out, and don’t use a neck cord. You shouldn’t put anything sweet on the dummy or offer it during awake time.
Using an orthodontic dummy is best as it adapts to your baby’s mouth shape.
You can find more information on signs and symbols on the Makaton website.
Everybody produces saliva. We need saliva to help us chew and swallow food, and to keep our mouths clean and healthy. Most people swallow up to 1000 times each day to remove saliva from their mouth. Children who dribble do not produce more saliva than others, but may have difficulties in coordinating the movements of head, neck and mouth to swallow this saliva.
Children learn to control their saliva when they have learned how to coordinate their tongue and lips without effort.
You can help by:
Children need time to learn saliva control. Don’t worry! Your child will have good days and bad days. You may find that...
…may make it more difficult for your child to control saliva.