Helping Your Baby To Talk

Every baby learns to talk by listening to people talk, by playing with sounds and words, and by talking to others.

Your baby begins to learn language skills from the moment they are born.  The first language skill to develop is known as receptive – understanding what is heard.  Expressive – speaking skills – develops later.

You can help your baby develop both kinds of language in the following ways:


• Talk to your baby often, but make sure you speak slowly.  To give baby the chance to begin picking out
words, you must speak slowly, clearly and simply most of the time.
• Use a variety of words, not just the names of things.
• Focus on single words, especially words which are commonly used in baby’s everyday language,
such as nappy, cup, bath…
• Encourage imitation.  As your baby begins to learn new sounds, imitate them.  An entire conversation
can be built around a few vowels and consonants.
• Wait for a response.  Even if your baby cannot talk in words, she may have a response to an activity you
have proposed, such as a squeal or whimper.
• Pause often so that your baby has the chance to understand and talk back to you.

Show your baby that you listen

• Take turns when you play and talk, just as you would hold a conversation.
• Listen to your baby.
• Look at your baby’s face.  Smile or reply to your baby’s sounds.
• Show that you are listening.  Repeat baby’s words.


• Create opportunities for your baby to play with other children.  Join a play group or toy library.
• Play close to your baby.  Copy some of her actions, facial expressions or sounds, and show her new
actions.  Play hiding games, like peek-a-boo.
• Finger games, soft dolls and stuffed toys, balls, blocks and activity boards all help to develop baby’s
fingers and hands, as well as listening and learning skills.
• Build a repertoire of songs and rhymes.  You may find it tedious to sing the same words over and over
again, but it helps baby learn.
• Sharpen baby’s hearing skills.  When a plane flies overhead or the door bell rings, point them out to
baby.  This helps baby understand the world of sounds and learn new words at the same time.
• Select suitable television programs for your baby, and watch them together.

Share books

• Even if baby cannot read or listen to stories, share them for a few minutes a day.
• Choose books with large, bright pictures.  Babies love pictures of babies.
• Do plenty of pointing out of single objects, animals or people.  Eventually your baby will surprise you by
• Let your baby show books to you.  Visit your library, and choose books together.
• Tell your baby stories, and repeat favourites.

This information was provided by Speech Pathology Australia. For more information go to