Understanding Language Development in 0-2 Year Old’s

Understanding Language Development in 0-2 Year Old’s

Language development begins from birth, and even our newborn babies have ways and means to communicate with us and let their needs be known.

Generally, children begin to babble at around six months old and say their first word between ten to fifteen months. However, most do not begin to speak until about twelve months old. Their ability to acquire more words and form two-three word sentences won’t start until around eighteen months old.

It is important to understand that the concept of language development is not only associated with spoken words. Listening and understanding also form a huge part of early language development. Children need to understand what is being asked of them or the meaning of words before using these themselves. Hence the reason that talking to your child from birth has a huge impact. You might wonder why, because you will not get a response for much of their early life. But behind the scenes, the foundations are being built for their later language development.

How do Children Develop Their Language Skills?

It seems obvious when you think about it, but it’s often overlooked. Research shows that how children develop their language skills is by being exposed to a language-rich environment. Exposure to language is the most significant factor in predicting children’s early language outcomes before five.

There are lots of simple ways to keep the words flowing with your child. Most of which won’t take much time or effort but will have a profound impact.

Bedtime stories

A bedtime story every night is a great place to start from six months old (or earlier if you want to). Of course, reading does not only have to be a bedtime activity. But if you only have time for one story per day, then bedtime provides a lovely opportunity at the end of a busy day to help your child relax ahead of falling asleep. 

Your choice of a story should reflect your child’s age. However, if you have a story that is a little too advanced, you can always make up shorter stories that still accompany the pictures. 


Singing exposes children to a range of words and vocabulary in a fun and interactive way. Accompanying songs with actions means that even the youngest children, including babies, can often join in replicating movements during songs like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’. The more enthusiasm and fun you can add when singing, the more engaged your child will be. 

If you aren’t confident in singing, just remember, no one is watching, and your child is your biggest fan!

Ongoing dialogue/narrative

It might feel like you are narrating your life, but constantly talking to your child about what you are doing is a great way to keep the dialogue going. Talking to your child throughout these early stages, even when they are unable to reply, is crucial to building the foundations of early language development. Many parents underestimate the importance of ongoing dialogue and narrative, but it has been shown time and time again to be really effective. 

Allowing your child the time to talk

As parents, there are times when we talk for our children, even when there may not be a language delay. We are all guilty of this. However, children need to be given adequate time to talk in meaningful discussions. This means that we talk to our children about the things that are important or meaningful to them, which prompts language development. For example, if your child is a Paw Patrol fan, then talking about Paw Patrol and the pups’ adventures will help them maintain focus throughout the discussion. Children need around 10 seconds after being asked a question to process what is being asked of them. Try counting in your head to 10 when you ask your child a question and see how long it takes before you usually repeat the question or answer it for them. 

Limiting or managing ‘screen time’

First of all, we must stress that we are not against children using tablets. There is absolutely a place for them in early childhood. However, we do believe that screen time should be managed by us adults. Allowing young children unlimited access to a tablet is not the best way to manage screen time. Often that will mean that children will stare at a screen with no human interaction for hours on end. Just as watching television for hours on end has no developmental benefit for children, neither do tablets. There are many educational games and apps that children can use. However, these are only shown to positively impact children’s development if an adult is present to talk through what is needed or required as part of the game. 

(Discover Helpful Rules to Manage Your Child’s Screen Time)

The Impact of Early Language Development on Lifelong Outcomes

There has been lots of research into the impact of early language development. For example, studies such as Conti-Ramsden (2009) have shown a clear link between a child’s level of language and communication development at school entry age and its impact on their ongoing levels of literacy learning and attainment. 

There is a continuing language gap for children under 5 in the UK. The revised Early Years Foundation Stage takes this into account, and there is now a further emphasis on the importance of early language development. There is also now a requirement to support those most in need through targeted support. If you have any concerns about your child’s early language development, please speak to your child’s Key Worker, your child’s Health Visitor or your child’s GP. 

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