A Better Start Southend
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During this first year of life, many changes take place in babies’ ability to communicate. By the time they are a year old they might:

  • Communicate with you using sounds, gestures, and in some cases a few words.
  • Change from making different cries, to babbling, playing with sounds, copying sounds and then putting sounds together which eventually will become early words.
  • Begin to understand the word ‘No!’ although they may not always do as you say!
  • Be able to give you a toy if you name the toy and point to it at the same time.

English not your home Language?


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Fun Ideas to try with your baby as you Chat, Sing, Play and Read with them
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Spend as much time as you can chatting to your baby. The best times are when you are feeding them, changing their nappy or bath time, but any time will do.

When your little one is playing, watch for any attempts to communicate and respond by giving them toys they look at or move towards. Play ‘sound games’ with them imitating any sounds they make. Ensure you pause and wait for them to respond.

As they grow older – between 6 and 12 months, play listening games that have an element of anticipation, like ‘Round and Round the Garden’ and ‘Peep-Bo’. Use gesture such as pointing when labelling objects.


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Babies don’t care if you’re a great singer – they only care if you sing to them. Singing to your baby helps them to create special pathways in their brain, which helps them to calm down, soothes them and helps them fall asleep (which is especially important in the early months of life!)

As lullabies or nursery rhymes have repetitive parts, singing them can also boost your baby’s language development and improve their listening skills.

We have a lovely collection of familiar songs and rhymes from different countries in home languages that you might like to share with your little ones….



If you live in an A Better Start Southend ward, you can find out about the Umbilical Chords sessions where you can make music with your little one!

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Babies don’t know the difference between toys and household items, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have many toys – it’s what you do with them that counts!

Play with a variety of things and talk to your baby about them and show your little one what they do. You could show what a brush does, for example.

Why not take turns rolling a ball back and forth to introduce turn taking?

Make sure you follow your little one’s interests as they will spend longer playing with something that they have chosen, rather than something you think they will like!


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Snuggle up and share a book together!

Through the sound of your voice and the warmth of your body, your baby will come to think of reading as a pleasurable activity. Read aloud for a few minutes at a time and don’t worry about finishing entire books — focus on pages that you and your baby enjoy. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t read the words – simply talking about the pictures is ‘reading’.

Try to read every day. Before naptime and bedtime is particularly good. Reading before bedtime gives you and your baby a chance to cuddle and connect.

There are a number of different books which are great for babies (a few of which are listed below). Babies enjoy ‘lift-the-flap’ books, ‘touch and feel’ books, and you can even get books they can take in the bath!

Booktrust have some lovely guidance about reading to your baby.


Looking for new stories?
Don’t forget to join your local library where you’ll find a limitless selection.

You can also find out when and where the Storyrhymes sessions are on at your local library.

Here are some book suggestions for your newborn (0-3mths)

  • Baby Touch: A black-and-white buggy book (2021)
  • Baby Touch: Faces: a black-and-white book (2019)
  • Baby Touch: Tummy Time (2020)
  • Baby Touch: Peekaboo (2019)
  • Baby Touch: Night Night (2020)
  • Baby Touch: Animals Tab Book (2019)
  • Baby Touch: Ears (2020)


For your nearest library in Southend

If you live in an A Better Start Southend ward, you can access Southend Storysacks where you can borrow free storytelling and activity packs.


If you have any concerns about your baby’s language development and live in one of the 6 A Better Start areas email to book on to one of the Let’s Talk Team’s free Babbling babies or Talking Tiddlers courses.

If you live out of the A Better Start areas do contact your Health Visitor to share your concern, they can help to ensure your little one is supported. When your little one nears their first birthday you will be invited to your little one’s ‘Under One’s development review’ with your Health Visitor, which will include something called a WellComm screen.

Visit WellComm
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