Listen and talk with me

A mum interacting with her baby Talking to your baby

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”.


When your child starts to talk

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?”.

You may find the I'm ready to join lots of words together leaflet useful [pdf] 2MB

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