Communication is more than just words and all children learn to communicate, understand and use language at different rates. There are many different skills that need to develop for a child’s language to grow.
Access ‘Play & Say’ Parent Training
Click here to access our online training resource ‘Play & Say: Communicating Together’ Speech & Language Therapy programme for parents of children aged 3 years or younger who are experiencing some delay in their communication skills.
Listen to our Registered Speech and Language Therapists as they guide you through a series of proven language development strategies.
How can I help develop my child’s communication skills?
Parents & the important adults in a child’s life play a key role in supporting children’s language and communication skills. Babies are born ready to learn how to have conversations. Chatting with your child, even before they are born, is what builds connections in your baby’s brain and helps your child learn how to talk.
Research has shown that the more babies and children participate in back & forth interactions with their adult caregivers, the greater the impact on their language skills. Your words work wonders for your child’s developing brain.
Watch 5 simple steps for brain building back & forth interactions with your baby or child.
To find out more about children’s communication development, click on the links below:
The ages and stages of children’s communication development from birth to 5
This booklet breaks down how children’s communication skills develop from the first 6 months of life through to 5 years and also helps you to know what to expect at each stage and how you can best help.
Learning how to communicate doesn’t just happen by accident! Children need adults to nurture and support their communication and language development.
Click to download
Click here to download a one page summary of the stages of speech and language development from birth to 5 years.
Access Speech & Language Therapy UK’s online progress checker
Speech and language UK progress checker provides short questions you can answer to see how your baby or child is getting on with their talking and understanding of words from birth to 11 years old. Click here to access the online progress checker
Helping your baby learn to talk (birth to 1 ½ years)
A baby’s hearing starts developing 16 weeks into pregnancy. This means that even before birth, your baby has been listening to you speak and can recognise your voice. Babies start to communicate with us from day one and need us to talk and sing together with them right from the start.
This leaflet has been developed by Speech & Language Therapists to give you some ideas to help your baby learn how to talk. Click to download
Click here to watch how you can build your baby’s communication skills while changing your baby’s nappy! Changing time is chatting time!
Don’t forget that babies and toddlers are able to learn more than one language! Bilingualism (learning more than one language) does not confuse children and does not cause speech, language or communication difficulties.
If you’re raising a bilingual child, the key thing to remember is to speak the language you feel most comfortable speaking with your child.
Helping your toddler learn to talk (1 ½ - 2 ½ years)
This leaflet has been developed by Speech & Language Therapists to give you some ideas to help your child learn how to talk. Click to download
Click here to watch how you can build your child’s communication skills during your day to day routines. Remember, anytime is chatting time!
You will also notice your toddler beginning to use more & more gestures to communicate. Noticing what gestures your toddler uses tells you a lot about their developing communication skills. While the specific gestures a child learns may vary depending on their family or culture, having 16 gestures by 16 months is a critical milestone for all children because it launches them from early first words into a vocabulary burst at 18 to 21 months. Click here to download the ‘16 gestures by 16 months’ booklet
Once your toddler starts using words or joining two words together, it is really important to expand what your child has said. Expanding has been shown to significantly increase children’s vocabularies and ability to speak in sentences.
Sharing books and Songs & Rhymes
Nursery Rhymes really support the development of babies & children’s speech, language and communication skills and also later on, their literacy skills in school. Click here to download this leaflet
Sharing books together with your child, right from birth, is a wonderful way to help your child learn new words & learn about the world around them. Click here to download this leaflet
You don’t have to read books word for word – talk together about pictures your child is interested in. Click here to watch how you can share books with your baby or toddler.
To find out more about how to develop your child’s love of books, stories and rhymes in children from as young an age as possible, visit BookTrust: Getting children reading | BookTrust
Advice about dummies
There is a lot of confusing advice available about the use of dummies and it is important to be aware of the advantages & disadvantages and to know when to start reducing your baby’s use of a dummy.
For further information, visit: Do dummies affect speech? (speechandlanguage.org.uk)
- The BBC’s Tiny Happy People Website has a wealth of information & simple and fun ideas to support your child’s language development from before birth to 5 years. Click here to access the website
- The National Literacy Trust’s “Words for Life” Website has a host of ideas to support your child’s language, literacy and communication skills at home from birth through to 12 years old. Click here to access the website
- The Hanen Centre has a wide range of articles for parents & professionals discussing the research behind children’s speech, language & communication development if you would like to find out more about the evidence base. You can also subscribe to The Hanen Newsletter if you would like to be sent their latest articles, news and tips on early language and literacy development. Click here to access the website
- Speech and Language UK: Changing young lives | vision is that every child who is facing challenges with talking and understanding words can look to the future with confidence.
- Help Kids Talk run FREE BASIC AWARENESS TRAINING WEBINARS on a fortnightly basis. In our webinar we discuss infant mental health and share our top tips for supporting speech, language and communication development in children aged 0-6 years. The webinar is suitable for both parents and practitioners and are available to everyone across Northern Ireland.Please click on the following link to register for a date that suits you: https://view.pagetiger.com/basic-awareness-webinar-training-dates.If you want any further information, please contact the Help Kids Talk Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact our Speech & Language Advice Line Tel: 028 3756 6446
Mondays 10:00am – 12:00 noon if you have any concerns or questions about your child/young person’s speech, language and communication skills and would like advice from an experienced Speech & Language Therapist.