Language foundations

Learning language is a lifelong process but a baby’s brain is developing the foundations for speech and language development from prior to birth, and in the first 12 months.

Language is learned through processing different sounds to understand the meaning of words. Learn more about early brain development here.

Getting vocal

Talking, singing and reading to your baby helps them develop important brain connections and the foundations of communication skills.

Talk to your baby as if they understand the words you are saying:

  •  Ask questions or talk to your baby about what you are doing.
  •  Respond to any sounds or actions they make.
  • Repeating the sounds baby makes encourages them to repeat the sounds you are making too.
Words and sounds

You child will understand a deeper knowledge of language as they are able to engage in conversations, listen and practice speaking. Don’t forget, body language and tone of voice also helps your child understand you.

Try and use a range of new words and sounds while speaking with your baby, this will allow them to become familiar with the sounds of your language.

Around 12 months, your child may begin to start using words to name objects and people (for example dog, bus, mum, dad) or communicate something they want (for example apple, book).

Around 18 months, children are often learning one, to two new words a week. At this time, you can support your child’s learning by:

  •  talking in full sentences
  • pointing out objects and meanings of words where possible
  • using rhymes and rhyming words.

You can also play word games, sing songs, read books to help your child with pronunciation and connecting words together.

Image Parent holds their baby close, smiling and engaging with them


Published — 01 October 2016 Last updated — 02 November 2016

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