By Raising Children Network
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From 3 to 18 months, your baby’s speech develops dramatically. Simple, enjoyable interactions and play ideas – such as reading and singing – will encourage your baby’s talking and language skills.

What to expect from your baby’s talking and language

Babies develop language at different rates. Some of the stages in early talking include:

  • cooing, gurgling and babbling
  • putting together simple sounds – for example, ‘ba-ba’
  • copying words
  • saying ‘no’ with a shake of the head
  • trying first words
  • knowing and using words in the right way at the right time.

Your baby will enjoy chatting, babbling happily when you talk, pointing out familiar objects, and understanding when you name things. By birthday number two, your baby is starting to master language.

There’s a lot of variation among children when it comes to talking and language, though. Some children still won’t say much even by the time they’re two years.

Encouraging talking skills is as easy as listening and talking to your baby. Sharing stories, songs, rhymes – even talking about your day – will all help your baby absorb language and build your relationship.

Play ideas to encourage talking

The more words children hear, the more words they learn. Here are some fun things to do together to encourage talking and language:

  • Just talk! For example, you can explain what you’re doing around the house, even if it’s mundane – ‘Daddy’s vacuuming the carpet to get rid of the dust that makes you sneeze’.
  • Read with your baby or tell stories.
  • Share songs and nursery rhymes – check out our Baby Karaoke to get started.
  • Repeat your baby’s attempts at words to encourage two-way conversation.
  • Praise your baby’s efforts to talk.
  • Give your baby lots of smiles and eye contact to show you’re listening.
  • Expand on basic words. For example, baby says, ‘Train’ and you say, ‘Yes, it’s a big red train’.
  • Point to and name body parts. For example, ‘Where is your mouth?’

If you have concerns about your child’s language development, you can talk to a health professional – for example, if your baby doesn’t babble or doesn’t seem to listen when others are talking. Health professionals can help you and your child work on many language and speech problems.

Sometimes delays in communication skills can be signs of more serious developmental disorders or developmental delay, including language delay, hearing impairment, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. If you’re concerned, talk to your GP or a health professional.
  • Last updated or reviewed 18-08-2014