Tag Archives: milestones

20 tips to encourage your baby to talk

There are many things you can do, pretty much from day one, that will help your baby’s language development. Here are my top 20 tips on encouraging baby to talk.

From day one

  • Always maintain eye contact when you are talking or singing to him (more so than you would an adult).
  • When talking to her, nod your head enthusiastically at every sound she makes, it may help you if you say “yes” or “I know” when doing this.
  • Pull funny faces at him and make funny noises, stick your tongue out and make ooh (pout) and aaagh (think dentist trip) mouth shapes (with accompanying sounds).
  • Sing nursery rhymes with hand gestures such as the wheels on the bus, incy wincy spider, row row row etc. You may also want to look at a local baby signing class.
  • Read books regularly and enthusiastically. Discover things for the first time with your baby, over and over again. Point to the pictures and tell him what it is.
  • Be enthusiastic; over empathise words and your pitch, particularly when asking questions or discovering ‘new’ things.
  • As your baby grows

  • Continue talking and pointing out objects, people and all of the above
  • Allow her time to gurgle and reply with your own baby sounds, this will teach her how conversations work.
  • Keep the tv switched off – this is a distraction for you both.
  • Call your child by her name at the start of each conversation, this will help her to recognise her own name and help you get her attention.
  • Be patient with your child when he starts to formulate small sentences and never finish a sentence for him.
  • Restrict dummy use to sleep time only, it’s hard to talk and even harder to be understood when you have a dummy in your mouth.
  • Use as many hand gestures as you can, this helps to reinforce meaning and build associations.
  • Explain to your child what is happening on an ongoing basis “We are going to have some breakfast now, can you sit in your big chair?”
  • Give your child options, for example, show her some fruit and ask “Would you like a banana or strawberry?” Your child will soon start making her own choices.
  • Once your child can copy sounds

  • Point out colours
  • Discover animal sounds together – “Here is a cow, the cow says moo. Can you say moo?”
  • Count items
  • Discover new songs/nursery rhymes together
  • Continue to discover new things together with the same enthusiasm as before.
  • The most important thing is to talk and to listen to your child. Empower him to start conversations and encourage his inquisitiveness about the world around him. Always make time and take the time to listen to your child and never rush him. If at any point you are concerned about your child’s language development, go and see your GP. Don’t wait for a routine check! I hope you found this page helpful.

    References:NHS, Asha

    When do Babies Smile?

    Most babies delight their parents with their first real smile at around 4 to 6 weeks, although it has been known for some to wait until around 8 or 10 weeks, if you have already seen your baby smile before this age I would expect that it was probably wind and not a social smile. If you are still waiting for your baby’s first smile, try these following tips:

    How can I encourage my baby to smile?

    You can’t make your baby smile before she is ready, however you can help to encourage your baby to smile. After all, a smile is a sign of happiness, of your baby feeling content and wanting to socialise with you. From the day your baby is born you should talk to her, look her in the eyes and smile at her- this interaction is vital as it shows your baby she is important to you, helps to boost her self esteem and allows her to view your facial expressions and attempt to mimic them. Babies always respond positively to interaction, however, she will be more responsive when she is calm, relaxed and not hungry or tired:

  • Ensure your baby doesn’t need changing, isn’t hungry and isn’t tired
  • Hold your baby up under her arms so that you are facing each other approximately 30cm (12 inches) away
  • Look her in the eyes and just gaze softly into her eyes – take your time
  • Mimic her expressions for a minute or two
  • If your baby seems agitated, put her down and try again later – she will get used to it
  • Once you have mimicked her expression and held her gaze for around a minute or two – smile your biggest smile, if you find it hard to keep your smile going, it helps to nod your head and say “yes” or other positive words.
  • If your little one is babbling whilst you’re doing this, allow her to talk and respond to her when she has finished what she has to say
  • This interaction will boost social skills and confidence.
  • If your cheeky little monkey isn’t smiling yet – she will be very soon.
  • What does my baby’s smile mean?

    First and formeost it means that she is happy, happy because this amazing new world around is starting to make sense. She is realising the importance of socialising and is starting to figure out this very human trait, she has realised that by smiling she gets attention and that by smiling back at you she maintains your attention. It is also a sign that your baby’s brain development and communicaiton skills are on track. If you are concerned that you haven’t seen a smile yet and feel as though you should have (after reading this post or other information), we recommend you speak to your health visitor or GP who will be able to assess your individual child.

    I hope this post helped you to understand when your baby will smile, how you can encourage it and what his/her smile means. If you enjoyed reading this, please share it with your friends. I would appreciate that.

    When do babies start walking

    When do Babies Start Walking?

    Some babies are able to walk alone from around 10 months and others don’t start walking until they are around 15-16 months. If your baby starts walking within this age range then that is perfectly normal; the average age babies start walking is just over 12 months. The developmental progress your baby has to make to reach this great achievement of walking is absolutely fascinating and it begins in the womb.

    The starting point

    Whilst your baby is in the womb, she will – believe it or not, start to mimic the motion of walking. When real time ultra-sound imaging was introduced in the 1980’s, medical professionals noticed that at around 7-8 weeks post conception, human fetuses started moving their legs spontaneously in what looked like the motion and movement our legs make when walking. Very soon after your baby is born and long before she is able to walk, you will notice that she moves her legs in this very same alternating pattern that mimics the motion of walking – it is known as ‘cyclic alternating leg movements’. Your new born may do this when you hold her upright on the floor, on a table top or even in the air – this is what some call the ‘starting point’ of walking.

    Your newborn baby loses the ability to do this at approximately 8 weeks of age but will continue to move her feet in this ‘cyclic alternating’ pattern whilst lying on the floor until she is about 12 months of age, the same

    joint angles and muscle groups are used whether your newborn is moving her legs whilst being held upright or your older baby is moving her legs in this same way whilst lying down. The reason a new born baby can do this whilst in an upright position but not after around 8 weeks of age is due to your baby’s growth – she simply doesn’t have the strength to lift her much heavier legs anymore. Real walking involves flexibility and diversity, postural control, muscle strength and not to be forgotten – the motivation to want to go somewhere!

    Your baby’s route to walking

    Before your baby starts walking, she will most likely have rolled over, be able to sit up without support, will have started crawling, be able to pull herself up to a standing position, spent some time cruising along furniture and be able to stand alone. It is possible for you little one to skip certain aspects of development but still achieve the next one on time, or early. For example, she may not be able or want to crawl but decides she wants to walk instead.

    When do babies start walking - baby standing poised to walk

    Do all babies want to walk?

    Walking is special and it is no co-incidence that walking is and always will be the ultimate end point in terms of a baby’s physical development. We have already noted that motivation is key to your baby wanting to be mobile. However, being mobile and walking are not exclusive to each other. Once your baby has the motivation to want to go somewhere, she will find a way to get there. This may involve stretching, rolling, pulling, hoisting, propelling, bum shuffling, crawling, cruising or all of the above. If your baby wants to get somewhere, she will find a way, and walking may not be at the forefront of her mind, no matter how much you try to encouragement this.

    Confident walker searching a toy box

    How can I encourage my baby to walk?

    If you are trying to encourage a child with a disability to walk, we strongly recommend that you follow the guidelines and advice given by the specialist. If however you are interested in encouraging your child to walk and you have no reason to believe that he will have difficulties in doing so, the fact of the matter is, he will walk when he is good and ready. Obviously your baby’s surroundings and environment have an impact on when your baby will start walking and by allowing your baby to cruise you can encourage his interest in wanting to walk – once he is ready.

    How will I know when my baby is ready to start walking?

    Postural development is a bit of a roller coaster, your baby will quickly learn new things, forget other things and revert back to doing things she was doing 3 weeks ago and thus appear to have forgotten her new found skill. It is not easy to know why babies start walking at the age they do; it is a combination of changes in their brains and bodies and the many external factors they are influenced by. Without getting too bogged down by the technological and theoretical issues that determine when babies start walking, we can look at the visual clues to your baby’s development that will help you to determine when your baby is ready to start walking.

    Standing with support in soft play environmentThe 5 steps to walking

    There are many milestones your baby will reach before he starts walking. As discussed earlier, it is not essential to have reached these goals in order for your baby to achieve his ultimate aim – walking. We are therefore only looking at the steps (pun intended) usually needed to reach this most important milestone – walking.

    • Step 1 – Standing with support. (Average age 7 months) – Usually between 5-8 months. You will feel the strength in your baby’s legs whilst you hold her hands or hold her under her arms and help her to keep her balance. It isn’t unusual for a baby to want to hold both of your hands above her head, using you for support whilst she ‘walks’ around.
    • Step 2 – Pulling up to stand from a seated position. (Average age 8.5 months) – Usually at around 7-11 months. Your baby has just become a little more independent, he can see new things, reach new things and has a whole new perspective on his surroundings. When your baby firsts start doing this, you may want to be close by and try to minimise the risk of any slips and falls by baby proofing your house, particularly any glass furniture and exposed corners.
    • Step 3 – Cruising along furniture. (Average age 9.5 months) – Anytime between around 8-12 months. For some this will come soon after learning how to pull to standing position, for others it may take a little longer. It is a natural progression and not something you can rush. You can however encourage cruising by allowing your baby the freedom to explore areas in your house that are the perfect height (such as your sofa). You may find that your baby crawls towards such furniture in order to pull himself up and will eventually be attempting to pull himself up on anything and everything (tv cabinets, dining chairs, stair gates, toy boxes to name just a few). As your baby progresses further, you will notice that he is able to navigate gaps in furniture, can reach out for other objects without losing balance, is able to easily change direction and will eventually hold on to the furniture with one hand and turn around to face outwards – perhaps to give you a wave or to grab something else that he is interested in. Many parents think that by placing their babies in baby walkers, they are helping their baby’s muscles develop, this is not the case, a safe place to cruise is all your baby needs.
    • Step 4 – Standing alone (Average age 11.5 months) – Usually between 9 to 15 months. At first it will only be for a couple of seconds, it may be that you place him down on his two feet and he takes a small tumble onto his bottom after 2-3 seconds, or that he decides to let go of the furniture whilst cruising. Once your baby is able to stand alone, it really won’t be long until he is ready to start walking…
    • Step 5 – Walking alone (Average age 12 months) – Your baby will become a toddler (able to walk) between the age of 9 to 16 months. If you haven’t already, you must childproof your home. Your baby will have slips, trips and a quite a few falls. Whilst your toddler is still learning to walk, ensure he does so in a safe place where a fall won’t result in a serious injury. Once your baby takes his first steps, he is officially a toddler (although he will of course always be your baby!) and toddling is exactly what he will be doing; legs wide apart, steps hesitant and slightly clumsy and arms out to help him keep balance.

    When does a ‘toddler’ turn into a walker? And what next?

    Development continues with time, as does confidence. After 2-3 months of starting to walk your child may want to take on new and exciting challenges. Rather than just walking form A to B, she will learn to pick things up from a standing position, carry things around, pull a ‘pull-a-long’ toy and walk up stairs. After approximately a year to 18 months after taking her first few steps, your child will develop further and will be able to run and also jump from a standing position. This is an exciting time for your baby and even walking to the shops can be an amazing adventure. Allow your child the time to explore her environment and encourage her curiosity. Many parents choose to use baby reins to ensure their child doesn’t run off into the road, you know your child better than anyone so don’t let anyone elses opinion sway what you think is right for your child.

    What if my child hasn’t started walking yet?

    If your child is 15-16 months old and isn’t walking or is approaching this age and isn’t showing any signs of walking then we recommend you contact your GP or health visitor. When you talk to your GP, express your concerns, if you feel that they have not been answered or you are not comfortable with what you have heard, try to clarify this with your GP. If you still don’t feel satisfied with the answer you always have the option of a second opinion. Remember that a referral is not a diagnosis and the sooner a problem is diagnosed the easier it will be for you all.
    I hope I have been able to answer your question “when do babies start walking and any other queries that arise from this. If you have found this helpful please show your appreciation by pressing the line button and sharing this with your friends.

    Roll over after every nappy change - baby on tummy

    Tummy time tips

    Tummy time tips - tips for encouraging tummy timeTummy time is an extremely important part of your baby’s development, the strength and skills your baby develops whilst on her tummy help her to lift her head and look around, push up with her arms, roll over, sit up, crawl and eventually pull herself up to a standing position. You shouldn’t let the fact that ‘all babies do this eventually’ stop you from encouraging your baby’s development. Babies should ideally spend more awake time on their tummies than in car seats, on swings, sitting in chairs or lying on their backs. This also helps to avoid your baby getting a flat head (Plagiocephaly).

    My baby hates tummy time

    Tummy time builds strength for sitting upTummy time isn’t easy, babies are no longer used to being on their tummy, you of course have to put her on her back to sleep as this helps to mitigate against the risk of SIDS but, with a little encouragement from you and a bit of determination from you both, you will find that a gradual introduction of tummy time helps your baby get used to the idea and stops her from feeling too uncomfortable when in this position. The Motor control your baby will gain from being on her tummy develops in a ‘cephalocaudal’ fashion, which means she will first gain control of her head, then her shoulders, then her abdomen and this continues down to her feet. Developing head control first allows her to visually explore everything around her.

    Introducing tummy time to a newborn

    Whilst I’m not suggesting that you place your newborn on the floor as soon as you get home, you should encourage tummy time from day one.There are things you can do to get your baby used to being on her tummy so when the time comes to put her on the floor, it wont be too alien/scary or too uncomfortable.

    Skin to skin

    Skin to skin with newborn

    Whether you are Breastfeeding or not, you should still have plenty of skin to skin contact with your newborn. As well as using this time to bond with each other, use it to get your baby used to being on her tummy. If you lie on a bed propped up by a pillow, you can place your baby on your chest so that she is leaning on you. Very often, even newborn babies start lifting their head whilst in this position and will try to look at your face. Once your baby is comfortable with this, you can then start lying flat on the bed.

    Play aeroplanes

    Who ever thought tummy time could be such fun? To turn your little one into a flying aeroplane, lie on the floor (on your back), lift your legs up and bend your knees so they are at a right angle, (your shins should be horizontal, parallel to the floor), place your baby on your shins so her head is on or just over your knees, support your baby under her arms and get ready for take off. Your baby will love seeing your face, hearing your aeroplane sounds and the sensation of slowly moving backwards and forwards. The added bonus to this is it’s also a fab workout for you!

    Buy a gym ball

    Pink Gym ball

    If you don’t have a gym ball already then buy one (from £4.99), not only are they fantastic for fat loss, muscle toning and core strength but also make a fantastic, comfortable place for your newborn to get used to being on her tummy. Place the gym ball next to your baby, lean your baby onto it and simply roll her back wards and forwards for a few minutes. Be sure to fully support her and take it nice and slow and you will find with each prolonged forward roll of the ball your baby can (or at least tries to) lift her head up. If there are two of you then you can turn this into a game of peek-a-boo too by sitting opposite each other, one of you in control of the ball and baby with your partner peek-a-boo-ing!


    Cuddles help with tummy time

    Whilst you may not think cuddling is going to develop her motor skills, if you stand up and cuddle your baby as if you were winding her (so her head is above your shoulder) and allow her to support/hold her own head as much as possible then that’s exactly what you are doing. The stronger your baby becomes, the longer period of time she will be able hold her head up and look around, and the best thing of all is she can always cuddle into you if she gets tired!

    Play peek-a-boo

    Everyone loves a game of peek-a-boo. I recommend doing this on a bed to begin with. If you place your baby on your bed so that her head is near the edge, she won’t have to lift her head very high to gain a good view of the room and won’t feel uncomfortable as it is a softer surface. Even better, and if you are able, sit on the floor next to the bed, hide out of your baby’s view and magically re-appear in front of her eyes. Peek-a-boo! Obviously make sure that you are ensuring your baby’s safety at all times and don’t do this once your baby is able to roll over.

    Roll over after every nappy change

    Roll over after every nappy change - baby on tummy

    Whether you are changing your little one on a changing mat or on a changing table, a good habit to get into is to roll her over after every nappy change. If you remember to do this every time she will get used to it and come to expect it. Try to incorporate it into a song such as “Ten in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over”. You can then continue singing to your little one whilst she is on her tummy, letting her know that you are still there and you are both having the time of your lives on your tummies…

    Finally, get down and play

    Toys for tummy time, baby playing

    If your baby is comfortable lying on you, holds her head well when having a cuddle, looks around the room whilst lying on the bed, enjoys her time on the gym ball, doesn’t immediately cry when you roll her after every nappy change and enjoys being an aeroplane then you can feel confident your little one is ready to lie on the floor, on her tummy and play. The best thing you can do is lie down next to her with plenty of smiles and words of encouragement. There are some nice toys for floor play that will also help in distracting/ encouraging your baby. If she seems uncomfortable to begin with then only do this for a minute or so, it is a good idea to time how long she was on her tummy for and try to improve on that the next day.

    If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, try her for just one minute to start with and increase this by 10 seconds everyday, in 4 weeks time, she will be stronger, confident, comfortable and on her tummy for at least 5 and a half minutes each and every day. After 12 weeks this will add up to around 14 minutes every day!

    How did your baby cope with tummy time? Do you have any additional tips or advice that can help other parents?

    When do babies start talking?

    Babies generally start talking at around 12 months, this is usually simple words like “Mumma” and “Dadda”. The first time your newborn communicates with you it will not be through talking but by expressing her emotions and informing you of her needs, this happens very soon after birth. Smiling, crying, squirming, grimacing and opening her mouth etc are all natural reflexes to let you know if she is feeling hungry, frustrated, cold, hot, afraid, tired, happy, unhappy and so the list goes on. In time, parents learn how to interpret these different cries and visual cues. You can encourage language development by cooing, singing, babbling, talking and reading to your baby. Eye contact from birth is also very important. Your little ones journey from zero to 36 months is covered here. As always, these milestones are for guidance only, some start talking sooner and some start a little later, if you are concerned about your child’s development, talk to your health visitor, GP or other medical professional.

    0-5 Months

    • You should start talking to your newborn as soon as she is born, babies recognise the sound and tone of your voice and are comforted by it.
    • At 12 weeks, she will look into your eyes as you talk and listen to your voice.
    • She may also turn her head towards other sounds such as voices, music, rattles and hands being clapped.
    • If you played music and spoke to her when she was in the womb then she is likely to prefer those sounds and those same voices.
    • At around 4 months babies begin making sounds.
    • Teach her how conversations work; listen to her, look her in the eyes, nod your head, repeat the same sounds back to her and await her reply.

    6 months+

    • When he is around 6 months old there will be many different sounds, mainly ‘Dadda’ or ‘Babba’ (or both), these sounds do not have any meaning at this stage, this comes later (approximately 12 months).
    • At around 7 months he may be able to recognise and respond to his own name and be able to communicate his emotions by using a different tone of voice.
    • He can also recognise when people are talking in his native tongue.
    • Talking in one or two syllable words regularly and pointing out simple objects such as “car, brick, milk, Mumma, Dadda, Bye” etc. helps him on his way to saying his first words.

    9 months+

    • When she is 9 months, Her talking and understanding of words has developed further.
    • She has a wide variety of differing sounds and tones.
    • She may also be able to understand a few basic words such as “hello”, “bye-bye”, “yes”, “no” and of course “mummy” and “daddy”.

    12 months+

    • When he is 1 year old he may have a few simple words in his vocabulary (around 7-10).
    • Most babies can say “Mummy” or “Mumma” and “Daddy” or “Dadda” and know the meaning (unlike at 6 months)!…
    • He is likely to have a much better understanding of your requests, such as “clap your hands”, “put that down” and “up” and “down”.
    • When it comes to talking repetition is key, REPETITION IS KEY, babies are much more likely to remember and use words that are repeated to them than words that are seldom used.
    • Continue to introduce new words and phrases as well as repeating and over-using the words he is already able to say.
    • Re-enforce understanding by using a variety of methods to build associations, for example, if you go to a farm and are talking about a pig, take a picture of it, print it out when you get home, compare the picture to that of a toy/teddy pig and make some piggy sounds. This variety of methods help develop babies connections with words.
    • Commentate on everything you do and on everything your little one does. “Mummy is having a drink”. “Mummy is clapping her hands, can you clap your hands?” “We are going in the car now, can you see the car?” You will be amazed at how many words will be picked up from you commentating and talking about your everyday activities.

    18 months+

    • You may be singing a lot of “Head, shoulders knees and toes” when he is approaching 18 months, if not, why not?
    • When he is around one and a half, he is able to point to parts of the body as you say them.
    • His language consists of saying approximately 20 simple words and understanding at least 50.
    • Babies at this age often repeat words that you say to them so try to keep sentences short and direct and choose the order of your words wisely; babies repeat the last word they have heard, particularly if you emphasise it.
    • As an example, if you are focusing on the word balloon, say “up goes the balloon“, if you are focusing on the word up, say “the balloon goes up“. (And don’t forget to repeat yourself).
    • If his pronunciation of words isn’t quite right then don’t worry, it is common for babies of this age to drop the endings of words.
    • To continue to encourage babies to talk, don’t correct mis-pronunciation at this age, as long as you continue to talk, he will continue to listen and learn.

    2 years+

    • When she is 2 years old, you can expect her to start talking in short sentences; perhaps two to four words.
    • She will have a much better idea of how language works and will able to use it to great effect.
    • As well as being able to identify objects, she may also be able to use her language skills to inform you of more abstract ideas like “teddy-mine..” or “me-play…”
    • Encourage your child’s interest in language by reading books together and talking about/discussing the pictures. If you are not a confident reader yourself you can still enjoy books by creating your own stories from picture books and attending story telling sessions at your local libraries and children’s centres.

    3 years +

    • When he is 3 years old old your child’s vocabulary will amaze you.
    • You are no longer wondering when do babies start talking, but how can I continue to improve my child’s vocabulary….
    • Be prepared for plenty of imaginary play, encourage it and enjoy it. It will help your child to have a greater understanding of how the world around him works.
    • Discuss emotions, explain and discuss different behaviour and ‘act out’ how this can make others feel. This makes for fantastic learning and often very amusing conversations.
    • Talk to your child about your day, what made you feel happy and what made you feel sad.
    • Ask your child the same questions and explore his understanding of his own emotions and help him to communicate these.

    There is nothing more rewarding and nothing more enjoyable than talking with your child. Please feel free to add your comments.

    What if my childs speech is delayed?

    • If your child doesn’t reach these milestones on time then don’t panic just yet, they are a guide only.
    • You should check with your GP if you are concerned about your child’s speech, particularly if you feel that it is delayed and it is not looking likely that the particular milestone will be reached in the near future.
    • Your GP will never turn you away if you have a developmental concern.
    • You should ensure that your newborn has had a hearing test before you are discharged from hospital having given birth.
    • If the results of the test are inconclusive be sure to have a follow up hearing test before he is one month old.
    • If your baby failed the hearing test, be sure to have a full hearing exam before he is 3 months. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can get the necessary help.
    • If there is no obvious reason for your child’s speech delay, you may want to see a speech therapist, this can also be arranged through your GP.
    • If your child is having problems with vocal communication, a speech therapist can diagnose, treat, advise and help your child if need be.
    • A speech therapist may recommend games for you to play and enjoy together or give your child exercises to encourage speech development.