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  • Writer's pictureJodie Ogrady

Talk together ❤️

Learning to talk

Talking, understanding others and

knowing what to say are really

important skills. They help children

make friends, learn and enjoy life

to the full.

Going from babbling baby to

talkative toddler seems like a

miracle, but your child needs YOU

to help make this happen because

they will learn most things from you.

Babies communicate with us

from birth, their cries let us know if

they are hungry or uncomfortable.

They smile and look at us when we

are talking and as we talk to them,

they start to understand the simple

words that we say. Their first words

appear at 12 -18 months, they may

not sound like adult words, but as

you listen you will begin to know

what they mean.

As toddlers grow, so do the number

of words that they understand

and use. Understanding words

happens first, and using these

words comes next.

After their first word, toddlers build

up to about 100 words that they use

one at a time. Next, they listen to you

and learn how words link together,

they begin to put two words together

in small sentences and later they

will use longer sentences.

As they get older, they start to use

longer sentences. They will learn

and use lots of new words and

will talk about what they have

done. They will start to ask lots of

questions and enjoy listening to

what others are saying. They find

some sounds difficult to say, but

most adults will understand them.

All of these skills help children get

ready for school.

But remember, learning to talk

can be difficult

Some children find talking and

listening harder than others.

They might find it hard to understand

what words and sentences mean.

Some struggle to find the right

words and sounds to use a put them in order.

These children

may need extra help.

If you are worried about your child,

talk to people you know and who

know your child. The pre school are always here to help.

The stages in this leaflet will help guide you but remember, every child is different

and if you’re still worried, go with

your instinct.

Talk to someone who can help, for example a speech

and language therapist, a health

visitor or GP.

You can also visit the

I CAN website to find out more

about communication and language

in children –

In the meantime, to help get you

started, follow the guidance and tips

in this leaflet.

2 years

• Children understand longer

sentences like ‘your shoes

are upstairs’.

• They are starting to use lots

of single words – 50 or more.

• They are starting to put some

words together to make

sentences, like ‘teddy gone’ or

‘Daddy’s ball’.

• They can play alongside other

children. They might be starting

to share, but it’s quite hard

for them.

3 years

• Children are using longer

sentences, like, ‘I’m gonna

Nana’s’ or ‘I’m gonna get a

toy car’.

• Children may stumble over their

words and repeat themselves.

• They are beginning to understand

question words like ‘who?’,

‘what?’ and ‘where?’

• They enjoy playing games with

other children and know all about

taking turns.

4 years

• What your child says can be

understood even by people who

don’t know them well, but they

might still find some sounds hard

to make, like ‘l’, ‘y’, ‘sh’ and ‘ch’.

• Children ask lots of questions,

especially ‘why…?’

• They are beginning to understand

colour, number and time words

like ‘show me three fingers’,

‘we are going tomorrow’.

• They can use their words to tell

you about how they are feeling

and about their ideas.

Handy Tips

Talking and playing with your child

is good for them and makes life

easier for you. These simple tips

will help.

Get your child’s attention

Face your child or sit down with


Say their name before you

start speaking. Talk about something

you can both see in front of you.

This helps them to learn what

words mean.

Have fun together

Use actions, sing, make noises

and funny faces. Don’t be shy,

being a bit silly helps get their

attention and makes them laugh.

Comments not questions

Asking lots of questions can feel like

it’s a test. Make it a conversation.

Comment on what they are doing

and what is happening.

Talk to your baby right from

the start

Babies love to hear your voice and

see your face when you talk to them.

Talking is easy

Just chat about what you are doing

or what they are interested in.

Be aware of background noise

Music, noisy video games and the

TV are a big part of our lives, but try

to make some noise-free time so

that your baby can hear what you

are saying.

Give them time to think

Children need more time than adults

to think about what they’ve heard,

and to decide what to say back.

Give them time to respond, and look

at them

Use simple language

Keep your sentences short.

For example, “Food time now” or

“Wow, you’re building a tower”.

Repeat what you say

It’s good to say the same thing over

again. Babies and toddlers need

to hear words and sentences lots

of times to understand them and

learn new words.

Make it easier for them to listen

Turning the music, radio or TV off

helps children focus on your words.

Build on what they say

Adding one or two words to what

they say helps your child onto the

next stage of talking. So, if your child

says “bus” you say “Yes, big bus”.

Speak in your home language

It’s important for children to learn their

first words and sentences in their

home language. Your child will learn

in English later, at nursery and school.

Make it easier for them to talk

Dummies can get in the way of talking.

Try to keep them just for sleep times.

Take it out to talk.

Show them the right way

Young children often make mistakes.

Show them that you understand,

rather than asking them to repeat

words correctly. Say the word or

sentence again correctly for your

child. If they say “Look at the dod”,

you can say “Yes, it’s a dog”.

Copy what they say

Repeat back sounds, words and

sentences. Whether its “la la” or

“Oh, you liked the banana?”, it shows

you’re interested and that sounds

and words . Whether its “la la” or

“Oh, you liked the banana?”, it shows

you’re interested and that sounds

and words are important.

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