Learning to talk: 0 to 6 months
It's the little moments together that matter the most when you're encouraging your baby towards their first sound, hum, giggle or word.
Every game or nursery rhyme, will help them get to know you and your voice. It might not seem it, but this is an important step in their journey to talking.
Video: Singing songs with your baby
Watch a mum singing to her baby. The mum makes sure she is face to face and close when singing. Early exposure to singing helps your baby learn sounds.
Activities for your daily routine
Try to talk or sing to your baby as much as possible when they're feeding. Even if it feels like you're getting no response.
A sing-song rhythm is a great way to chat or sing to them when they're this young. To speak in a sing-song rhythm, try to emphasise vowels (A, E, I, O, U) more strongly than the other letters (consonants).
Give it a go using a nursery rhyme next time you're feeding your baby, you might find you naturally sing this way.
Remember, singing can be fun
Your voice is like a comfort blanket for your baby. They'll be enjoying the sound of your voice so try not to worry if singing's not a hobby of yours.
Emphasise repetition and rhymes
Nursery rhymes have lots of repetition to help your baby learn. You can give them a helping hand by emphasising any repetition.
Changing your baby's nappy is a special time to bond with them. It also lets you spend valuable face-to-face time together.
When you change your baby, talk to them about it. Say things like “I’m going to change your nappy now".
You can also sing songs like 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes' to them.
Repeating body parts while you sing or talk helps them learn about their body and the space around them.
Get close to your baby’s face
Face-to-face time helps your baby see your face as you talk. This can help them understand how you make sounds so they can start making them too!
Speak slowly and repeat key words
The slower and simpler you speak, the easier it'll be for your baby to copy you when they're ready to.
Out and about
Your baby's attention will move around quickly. It can be hard to see what they're focusing on but if something has their attention, point to it and tell them what it is.
Continue chatting slowly about it. Try to leave gaps between your sentences, as they might want to respond back to you.
If they murmur or try to talk, show your baby how amazing they are and encourage them to try again. Don't worry if they're not ready to make sounds just yet, it's a big skill to master.
Be inspired by what’s around you
There will be lots of exciting new sights and sensations for your baby to explore. If you run out of things to talk about, chat about what you can see too.
Move your body when you communicate
Actions are a great way to show your baby how to start communicating. Try to point, wave and nod where you can.
Video: Talk with your baby as much as you can
Watch a mum talking to her baby while she's completing chores and tasks. She takes her baby with her and explains what she's doing.
Little tips for everyday play
Fun ideas for interacting with your baby
- at bath time you could talk about the water and the sounds it makes
- see if your baby can copy you when you stick out your tongue or blink your eyes
- respond to your baby when they make noises – try saying things like "Wow, you can make loud noises!"
Activities using music, sounds and touch
- sing songs and rhymes with actions and lots of repetition, like "Row, row, row your boat"
- play together with fabric books that have different textures and talk to your baby about how the book feels
- read to your baby
Tiny Happy People on the BBC website has fun activity inspiration to help your child learn to talk, play and sing.
Libraries are a free way to access age appropriate books. Some also run story time sessions for parents and their children. Find your local library service on gov.uk.
Your local council may offer activities too. Find learning activities for your child on gov.uk.
Family hubs offer support to children, young people and their families. They provide a single place to go for support and information from a variety of organisations, making it easier to get the support you need.
They can provide guidance on issues such as feeding your baby or toddler, mental health and parenting support.
Family Hubs are currently operating in 75 local authorities across England.
How to help their speech development
- try playing with things your baby is interested in, and be at their level physically while you're playing together
- as soon as you notice your baby looking or pointing at something, talk about it before their attention moves on to something else – that might be within a couple of seconds for babies
- use picture books to introduce your baby to new things – point to the pictures and say what you see
- take turns to make noises or speak with your baby, even with young babies, as you can respond to their babbling by copying back the sounds you hear and then waiting for them to take another turn
- make reading, singing and playing fun by using lots of actions and different voices
- use the same song or book – babies and young children learn a lot when they are familiar with particular songs and books
- talk to your baby in short, simple sentences, as it helps them understand what you are saying and makes it easier for them to have a go at copying when they are ready
Learning more than 1 language
It's important to talk to your child in the language or languages you use.
A child learning more than 1 language should babble and say their first words in the same way as a child learning one language.
It is important not to confuse this slight delay with language difficulties – most children quickly catch up.
For more help on languages, have a look at the parent's questions on the National Literacy Trust website.
Help and advice
Your baby's eyes and hearing will be checked while you're still in hospital, or within a few weeks after the birth.
Your midwife will support you for a week or so after your baby is born and then a health visitor will take over. Your first appointment will be around 10 to 14 days, then at 6 to 8 weeks. You can discuss your baby's development and ask any questions you might have.
Ask your health visiting team for support whenever you need it, they will be able to provide tips and advice. Remember, children learn to talk at different ages. If you are worried, speak to your health visitor or nursery key worker. Or contact your local speech and language therapy service for advice.
For more ideas on how you can help your child, visit: