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Nipper Natter

Why is talking important?

  • The way parents/carers talk to their children makes a big difference in how children learn a language.
  • Parents/carers have the biggest impact on a child’s learning.
  • Children spend more time with their parent/carers than with anyone else.


Research facts

Did you know that babies are able to listen from 23 weeks in the womb? This means that your child will start hearing and learning words before they’re even born.


“A child’s development score at 22 months can serve as an accurate predictor of educational outcomes at 26 years old.” (Allen and Duncan Smith)


If you speak to your son/daughter regularly in simple sentences, by the age of 4 they will have experience with around 45 million words. However, if you only spoke to your child when you were telling them to do something, then they would only have experience with around 13 million words.


Starting conversations

Try talking to your child during everyday activities. Some examples of these are:

  • Shopping
  • Travelling on the bus
  • Sorting washing
  • Cooking
  • Washing up
  • Getting dressed


These activities also allow for learning opportunities. For example, while shopping you could do some basic maths games or if you’re travelling on the bus you could play a little memory game with sights you see on the journey. You can also start a conversation during specific play activities with your child. A few examples are:

  • Dressing up
  • Drawing
  • Teddy tea party
  • Playing with toy farm animals/play people/a doll’s house


Talking during these activities can help engage their creativity. For example, you can talk about what they’re currently drawing, or what they’re planning on drawing next.


Top tips on talking to your child

  1. Let the child lead and you follow.
  2. Play alongside your child and give practical demonstrations of how to do things.
  3. Sing lots of nursery rhymes and songs together.


Your child’s vocabulary development

The early warning signs for when your child’s vocabulary is not as developed as it should be:


  • Your child is not saying a handful of words by the age of two.
  • Your child is not joining words together by the age of two and a half.
  • Your child cannot be understood by people outside of the family by the age of four.
  • Your child is concerned about the way they sound or is showing signs of frustration when they aren’t being understood.


The NHS has compiled a comprehensive list of tips to help your baby to learn vocabulary.


Stages of speech and language development


If you think there is a problem, contact your local speech and language therapy department for an assessment of your child’s communication skills. For more information and contact details, click here.

Interested in learning more about babies and toddlers? Take a few minutes to check out the ‘Tantrums’ page.