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

Learning to talk: 2 to 3 years

Your child's imagination presents the perfect opportunity to build their confidence. Role play, counting games and helping out around the house are great ways to use their imagination and build on the words they already know.

Try to repeat words and add instructions to words they've grasped to encourage their play.

Video: Follow your child's interests when playing

Watch a mum role-playing with her child, using toys and creating characters. She follows her daughter's lead to encourage her to express her thoughts and ideas.

Activities for your daily routine


Mealtimes are a great time for your child to learn new words. You can help them by talking about the food they're eating.

Give them 2 options of what to eat. For instance, you could ask, "Do you want the mushroom or the tomato?". Hold up, or point to, the food as you say it.

When they decide what to eat, you can describe how the food looks, tastes or feels.

Remember, learning new words can take time, but it can be enjoyable for your child.

Try using nouns

When you're using words to describe things, say what the thing is and then the describing word. For example, you say "The (thing) is (describing word)" instead of "It's (describing word)." 

Use repetition to correct mistakes

If your child says a word incorrectly, still encourage them with a big smile but repeat what they said back to them correctly.

A child and dad are sitting on the floor with a teddy each between their legs. They are both brushing the hair of their teddy and talking about it.

At home

Role play, or pretend play, is a great activity to help your child become more confident.

Start with a familiar routine. Take a teddy or toy and ask your child to act out their daily activities with it.

Ask them questions to help them express their ideas and show what they know.  For example, "Where should Teddy sit?" or "Can you help Teddy brush their hair?".

It's ok if your child has their own ideas they want to act out, as long as you both have fun together.

Ask your child to name their teddy

Get creative and help your child decide on a name. Use the name your child chooses when referring to it.

Give your child lots of praise

Praise your child however they use their imagination, say "Good job".

A child and dad are sitting on a bench, the dad asks them to clap 3 times and the child claps.

Out and about

Counting helps your child understand how numbers work and how they relate to one another.

You could play a fun clapping game together if you're waiting for an appointment or transport.

Start by saying "1 clap" and clap once together. Then say "2 claps" and clap twice together, and so on. If your child recognises the numbers, you could ask them to clap on their own.

If they get a but bored of the game, try adding your own ideas, like singing or humming along.

Video: Talk with your child about every day tasks

Watch a child and her parents prepare and eat fruit. Mum and dad ask questions about how to prepare fruit and what fruit she likes best. She also helps tidy up after!

Little tips for everyday play

Make daily routines fun
  • when they say "Dog", you could respond with "Yes, it's a big, noisy dog"
  • talk to your child about feelings
  • chat to your child about what has happened so far in the day and what is going to happen next, for example you might say "Now we have had breakfast, we can go to the park"
  • look at picture books together and talk about things they can see and how we use them, for example "A chair is something we sit on"
Use music, sounds and actions
  • encourage your child to use their imagination, for example, sing "Old MacDonald had a farm" and ask your child to suggest animals
Get creative
  • make a game with some empty bottles and a ball and take turns to roll the ball and see how many bottles you can knock down – talk about everything you do, saying things like "Well done, you knocked down 2 bottles"
Play pretend games
  • act out stories with soft toys and chat to them as you are doing actions

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

  • try playing with things your child is interested in, and be at their level physically while you're playing together
  • as soon as you notice your child looking or pointing at something, talk about it before their attention moves on to something else
  • use picture books to introduce your child to new things and point to the pictures and say what you see
  • take turns to make noises or speak – slow down your speech, give them plenty of time to respond and listen carefully to what they have to say
  • make reading, singing and playing fun by using lots of actions and different voices
  • use the same song or book, as young children learn a lot from singing the same song or looking at the same book again and again
  • 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 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

You and your child will see a health visitor at about 2 to 2-and-a-half years to talk about your child's development. If your child goes to nursery, they will also have a progress review with their key worker.

If your child needs a little extra support, your health visitor and nursery can help. They may also put you in touch with a speech and language therapy team, or signpost you to local activities.

Ask your health visitor 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:

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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