Helping Little People Learn to Talk: 18 – 21 Months

Talking and listening to children from the moment they’re born helps them develop good listening and language skills. It also helps them to learn and develop good relationships with people.

It’s never too early to start talking to your child. Most brain development happens before the age of two and the best way to stimulate your child’s brain is to talk to them more.

You don’t need to be an expert. All you need is time to look and listen to what your baby is trying to tell you and respond to your baby by chatting back whenever you can.

Nursery rhymes are a great way of introducing language to your baby. You may even notice that your baby may attempt to follow the words with you (Sheridan 2008: 30). Babies often chatter to themselves as they play which can sound like real speech (DE 2010: 8, Sheridan 2008: 29). Enjoy listening to your baby as they creates their own little world.

As your child’s speech is developing they are learning new words and language through looking, listening and playing. Here are some handy tips in areas that help your child to develop strong language skills:

Attention & Listening

Your Baby: I try to concentrate on my games but I find it difficult. I can really join in with songs now”
Tip: Help your baby to concentrate by sitting and playing games on the floor with him/her.

Play & Chat

Your Baby: “I am figuring out how you use your phone or make tea. It helps me to learn about the world”
Tip: Pretending is very important so play pretend games like having a tea party with your baby and they will start to copy the things you do around the house. This allows your child to learn new words during play.


Your Baby: “I understand simple questions like “where is your shoe?” and instructions like “get a new nappy”
Tip: Give your baby little instructions and little jobs to do around the house. It helps them to listen and learn new words.


Your Baby: “I use as many as 20 words but I mostly talk by pointing and saying 1 or 2 words like “outside” or  “want more”
Tip: Repeat back your words but also add in a word or two so that your baby learns how to join words together (e.g. ‘you want more juice’).

Speech Sounds

Your Baby: “I still babble and use more speech sounds like “p”, “b”, “m”, “w”
Tip: Letting your baby see your face when you talk really helps your baby to copy the movements that your lips make.

This article is provided by Little Voices.  Little Voices is the oral language strand of the ABC Start Right Limerick project.