Learning to talk

young baby looking at mum

0 to 6 months

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. Then your 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.

Did you know?

Babies start to recognise their mother’s voice during pregnancy. Ask your midwife for tips on helping your baby learn to communicate after they're born.

What is my baby learning?

By 4 to 6 months, babies learn to:

  • recognise their own name
  • show emotions like excitement, likes and dislikes
  • start babbling

How can I help my baby learn to talk?

  • talk to your baby about anything and everything
  • spend time together face-to-face
  • 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!”
  • sing songs and rhymes with your baby – try songs with actions and lots of repetition, like “round and round the garden”
  • play together with fabric books that have different textures – talk to your baby about how the books feel

What can my baby see?

  • newborn babies can see large shapes and faces when they are near them
  • at about 1 month, they may be able to briefly hold your gaze
  • between 4 and 6 months babies start seeing in 3D and can focus on people further away
  • by 12 months most babies can see clearly

Speaking more than one language

It's important to talk to your child in the language, or languages, you feel most confident speaking.

Children who speak more than one language babble and say their first words in the same way as children learning one language, but some may do it slightly later. It is important not to confuse this slight delay with language difficulties – most children quickly catch up.

Dad playing with baby

Help and advice

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: