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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

Young children love it when you chat, play and read with them, even if you think they're too young to understand.

You can turn almost anything into a game. And every little thing you do together will help set them up nicely for the day they start school.

Chat, play, read!

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
  • 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

Video: Play the memory game

Watch this video of a grandma and her grandson playing a fun memory game. They take turns naming different household objects. But can they remember which one has gone?

Ideas to help your child learn

Here are some ideas to help your child learn to use more words by chatting, playing and reading with them.

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

Learning activities

Your local council may offer activities to help your child improve their communication, language and literacy skills.

Find local learning activities for your baby.

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:

Learning to talk - 0 to 12 months

Get tips and advice on helping your baby develop their speech skills.

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