Baby communication and development webchat - Mon 28th March, 12.30-1.30pm

Babyexpert is pleased to welcome Dr Cathy Hamer from the National Literacy Trust who will be joining us on Monday 28th March for a Baby Development Webchat.

Dr Cathy Hamer will be online in our message board forum from 12.30- 1.30pm on 28th March to offer guidance and advice on the most effective ways to communicate with your baby and to answer any specific speech development questions you might have.

Don't worry if you can't make the chat on Monday, post your questions now...


  • Hi Cathy

    Thanks for coming to BE.

    My daughter is nearly 3 and I'm worried her speech is very delayed. She doesn't say much at all. Doesn't really put more than 3 words together in a sentence. The words are hard to understand and she makes up words she can say to replace the ones she can't for instance an egg is a knock knock, ketchup is dip dip etc. Everyone tells me she is just delayed and will get there in the end. She understands everything, but gets very frustrated that she can't be understood. Should I let her just mature in her own time or should I think about seeing someone about this. How can I encourage more words from her?

    thanks in advance.
  • Hello

    This is Cathy Hamer - on-line and looking forwards to your questions and queries.
  • Welcome to today's LIVE webchat, expert Cathy Hamer will be here in 5 mins to answer any questions have about communication and child development.
  • Hello Diddley-UK

    Thank you so much for raising this question. Children develop speech and language skills at different rates. As you say your daughter 'understands everything' that's a really good sign.

    Her own use of language is certainly coming along if she's putting three words together. Usually this is short sentences such as 'want more juice'which gradually extends to linking four or five words together. Adding words to children's sentences can help them learn how to fit words together.

    Sharing stories, songs and games with your daughter will help her language learning. Repetition will help her to learn words. You can use stories, such as 'The very hungry caterpillar' where she will hear the words many times.

    You can help by providing providing the correct example for sounds and words. This will help if she's having a particular problem with a certain word or sound. Simply repeat what she says using the rights words and sounds.

    Your local Children's Centre will be able to offer you advice on what groups are available which focus on developing children's speech and language. You could visit the website which has a "Progress checker'.

    Do please check out the website for lots of hints and tips including the message TLR - Talk Listen and Respond.

    Kind regards

  • Hi cathy

    I am just going into my third trimester of pregnancy, and am interested to know what I should be doing with my baby once he is born when it comes to communication and interaction. They say his eyes wont focus for up to a few months, but should I still be doing things right from the start, what exactly will he be taking in and what should I do, and how will this help with development?


  • Hi gibbo 7 / Joanne

    Your daughter is developing well and seems to be enjoying your attention when feeding. If she's turning feeding into a game perhaps you could share the game by playing airplane food i.e. a small amount of solids on a teaspoon which is then posted into her mouth. You could model this with one of your older children.

    Often local Children's Centres have weaning parties - going along to one of these could give your little girl an example from others.

    Best Wishes

  • Hi ya

    My daughter is 2 and half and has two older sisters. Her speech development is much slower than her sisters and she often babbles in her own little language which of course none of us understand. Do you think this is a speech impediment. It doesn't seem to bother her she's a little chatter box and and chatters to herself like this all the time, but I'm just a bit concerned as she is so much slower at speech than my other two?

    thanks for your help.
  • Hello Mrs_Homey1

    I'm sure you're already getting to know your baby. Your baby can hear your voice before he's born so when you fell your baby move, stroke your tummy and talk to your baby. Singing your favourite son will help your baby to recognise your voice after birth.

    Babies are learning from the moment they are born - this is a really important time in the baby's development as they learn about the world they live in and the people around them.

    When your baby is born talk, watch and listen as you cuddle and stroke your baby. This will help her feel secure and loved. Hold your baby so your face is easily seen - young babies prefer to look at faces and will copy your actions e.g. sticking out your tongue.

    Always respond is some way when your baby is trying to communicate. Talk about things as they happen, e.g. nappy change, unpacking shopping.

    There are lots of hints and tips for early communication on the

    Enjoy your baby - sing, smile and talk throughout the day.

    TLR - Talk Listen Respond.

    Enjoy your baby

  • Hello, I have two children. My boy is 2.5 years old and my baby girl is 5 and a half months.

    I am Latvian, my partner is Swedish and we live in UK.

    I speak to my children in Latvian, my partner in Swedish, and they also hear English on daily basis as my partner and I, we speak to each other in English.

    Now Hugo was a little bit late in speaking first words, but he has picked up well. He can string together quite long sentences but at the moment he is preferring Swedish about 70% of the time even though he knows equivalent words in Latvian as well. English is the slower language of them all, but he definitely understands it, but is reluctant to speak it (say when addressed by my friends who are English, but I suspect this is because it is a third language on top, and he might feel a bit confused).

    Because the three languages are not the same in forming sounds his pronunciation is not perfect. He tends to ommit S for example and L, even though he can say them. He sometimes mumbles a bit. Does this sound ok for his development?

    When we read books to him, the ones in Swedish are read in Swedish, and ones in Latvian in Latvian, but when reading English books we let him choose which language he d like to hear them in (e.g. english or latvian; english or swedish). I think this has helped a bit for him to differentiate the lot?

    Are there particular ways how to encourage him to use all three? Or am I asking too much?

    I as a mummy just sometimes am annoyed, that he ll reply to my questions in Swedish, when I know he knows how to do it in Latvian :P

    I am not that concerned about my daughter, as she is a girl and girls are better at speaking and she probably hears us speaking a lot more than my boy used to when he was a baby.

    Could it be that he chooses Swedish because the words are easier? (for example less syllables in words and so on?).

    Thanks for advice,

    foox xx
  • Hello Christianneuk1

    While children develop skills at different rates they tend to develop language in a 'typical' sequence. When children are learning to talk they take some time to master all the sounds they need to say. When they are doing this they often 'substitute' certain sounds for others. This is a normal part of the process of learning to speak.

    I'm delighted you describe your little girl as 'chatty' as she's obviously keen to communicate.

    At two and a half you can help your daughter by listening to what is being said and ensuring you face her when you talk to her. You should give her plenty of time in conversation, accepting and responding to her words by repeating and expanding what she's saying using the correct language.

    When you're looking at books, singing songs and nursery phymes you can begin to leave out words so that she can fill in the gaps.

    Why not visit to make a communication pledge.

    Have fun communciating.

  • Hi fooxoo

    You're creating a fabulously rich language heritage for your children - do please keep this up.

    Babies brains are wired for all languages - whichever and however many they encounter and young children have a powerful ability to multi-task with words, speaking naturally in more than one language come naturally. It becomes second nature to them to adjust languages.

    Using several language develops confidence in learning and a pride in their culture, helping children to feel secure in their identities and have deeper self confidence. When they begin to learn English, their confidence levels contribute to a faster and more in depth understanding of the new language.

    Using different languages, and even words from different languages (commonly called 'code-switching') is not a problem. The child will use language to emphasise something and learn that they can get the listener's attention by switching languages.

    On the website there is a sheet on Bilingualism: Frequently asked questions and also a report from the 2009 Conference on a presentation on bilingualism by Charmain Kenner, Goldsmiths, University of London.

    It's very important that parents use the language they know best and feel most comfortable in. A child who develops good use of the mother tongue is more likely to develop good English.

    Do keep up your conversations, reading stories and singing songs in your language rich family.

    Kind regards

  • Our 1 hr webchat has now finished. Please do not post any more questions.

    Thanks to everyone involved in today's webchat, especially to our expert, Cathy Hamer from the National Literacy trust for her excellent informative answers.

    As part of the -Hello' campaign, the National Literacy Trust have just launched a new campaign -Talk To Your Baby' to give parents the skills and advice they need to help their babies and young pre-school children develop vital communication skills that will be with them for life.

    For more information about communicating with your children visit the website which has a vast amount of information to help you find new and fun ways to communicate with your children.
  • Thank you for inviting me on to your forum. 2011 is Hello the National Year of Communication - look out for events happening each month and visit the website You'll find lots of information, hints and tips on the website with ways to have a Talk To Your Baby party, make a pledge to communicate and win books and DVD's.

    Have fun with TLR: Talk Listen Respond

    Enjoy communicating with your baby from before your baby is born. See how amazing your baby is and enjoy talking with your baby.

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