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  1. 1 to 2 years
  2. 2 to 3 years
  3. 3 to 5 years

Learning to talk: 1 to 2 years

Your child will start to recognise more words than they can say at this age, so every conversation, game or story will be supporting their understanding.

Try to respond to their babble and pick out and expand on words they're saying. It'll help them become a more confident communicator.

Video: Sing songs and rhymes together

Singing songs and rhymes are a fun way to introduce your child to new words and sounds and to get them active too!

Activities for your daily routine

A dad and baby have pieces of bananas and grapes laid out on a table in an alternating pattern. The dad asks whether a banana or grape should go next in the line and the child holds up a banana.


The different colours and shapes of food provide an engaging way to teach your child about patterns.

Use foods they recognise, such as bananas and grapes, and cut them into small pieces or halves.

Create a pattern with the fruit, saying the name of each fruit aloud as you place them on the plate.

It might feel like you're encouraging your child to play with their food but it's a fun way to add to their vocabulary.

At home

During bath time, give your child two simple containers, one bigger and one smaller, to play with.

Together, fill the small container with water and pour it into the big container.

Once the bigger container is full, show your child the difference between full and empty.

This helps them understand the idea of measurement and size.

Don't worry if they get distracted, there's lots of fun to be had in the bath!

Try using different shaped objects

Experiment with different shaped containers to help your child learn about holding and managing objects.

Count as you pour

Each time you fill or empty a container, count this as one. Continue to count as you play together.

Out and about

When you're out shopping, you can help your child learn by exploring their surroundings.

Ask your child to point out food items they may recognise from home. You could begin by introducing your shopping list by saying, "We need bread and apples".

When you arrive at a specific aisle ask them to point out one item.

It's ok if they don't get it the first time. Encourage them by asking a follow-up question such as, "I think I can see the apples, can you see them too?".

Keep the task simple

Keep it simple for your child by asking about one item at a time and avoid overwhelming them with too much information at once.

Choose items that your child can see

Select items at your child's eye level to make it easier for them to recognise what you're asking for.

Video: Talk about the sounds around you

Watch a dad make and respond to sounds and noises his child makes. Practicing repeating them back to your child helps them to hear and recognise sounds.

Little tips for everyday play

Make daily routines fun
  • name objects and offer your child choices, for example, "Do you want an apple or an orange?"
  • say the names of the foods your child is eating and talk about what they're like using words like, "sweet", "sour", "round", "smooth" "cold", "warm"
  • look at picture books together – give your child time to point things out and talk about what they can see using words for actions and things, for example, "The baby is sleeping"
Get creative
  • draw simple pictures and encourage your child to add marks and colours while you talk about them
  • find songs and rhymes that use gestures and objects
Play pretend games
  • play pretend games together like teddy bears' picnic
  • combine water play with pretend play by giving dolly a bath – talk about what you are doing, like "Wash dolly's legs", "Wash dolly's tummy"
  • pretend to be a rabbit as you bite into a carrot, or a mouse nibbling some cheese – make sure you both have some food to try!

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

Your local council may offer activities too. Find learning activities for your child on

Family hubs

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

Here are some tips and activities to help your child develop their speech skills:

  • try playing with things your child is interested in, and be at their level physically while you're playing together
  • notice what your child is looking or pointing at and talk about it, try to do this before their attention moves on to something else – that might be within a couple of seconds for babies and toddlers
  • use picture books to introduce your child to new things – point to the pictures and say what you see
  • take turns to make noises or speak with your child, 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 – young children learn a lot when they are familiar with particular songs and books
  • talk to your child 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're 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 child may not have any routine developmental reviews during the age of 1 to 2. If you feel your child needs a little extra support, your health visitor can help. They may put you in touch with a speech and language therapy team, or give you details of local activities.

If your child is going to nursery or another early years setting, staff will be able to help keep track of your child's development. Some children are eligible for free nursery places at 2 years old. Ask your health visitor for more information.

Ask your health visitor for more 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:

Early learning and development

90% of your child's brain growth takes place before they turn 5. Discover more advice and activities for ages 0 to 5 to help you make the most of every moment.

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