A Better Start Southend
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Between 12 and 24 months, changes in the brain help your toddler learn and understand language. All babies and children progress with their talking at different rates – some children are much earlier and quicker than others, but in general your little one might:

  • Say a number of single words
  • Sometimes put two words together
  • Use sounds to describe certain things, like “moo” for a cow
  • Follow simple instructions like “come here”
  • Understand some simple questions ‘where’s your shoe?’
  • Point to some parts of their body e.g tummy, leg
  • Enjoy simple stories, songs, and rhymes
  • Find things in pictures in books, when named
  • Use a few different sounds at the beginnings of words, e.g m,b,p,t,d

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Fun Ideas to try with your baby as you Chat, Sing, Play and Read with them
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Remember, talk together as you do everyday activities and routines such as; walking to the park, shops, school, tidying up or cooking. This will help your little one connect language to the world around them.

Use objects and gestures to help them understand instructions and questions and remember to leave little gaps or pauses so that they have time to respond.

It is also useful to give your toddler two or three choices, such as, ‘do you want teddy or the car?’, ‘is this your nose or your foot?’

Repeating what your toddler says and adding a word will really help their language to develop. If they say ‘juice’ you can say ‘more juice’, ‘juice please’ or ‘juice gone’. This shows your little one how words can be put together to make short sentences

Your toddler will learn speech sounds gradually. Try not to ‘correct’ them, just say the word back to them. It also helps them if they can see your face when you are talking to them because they can then watch and copy the movements of your lips.

Your little one may become frustrated if you or other adults don’t understand them. This can lead to tantrums. Encourage them to point or show you what they want. Try to be patient and wait for them to finish what they are saying or trying to show you.

If you live in an A Better Start Southend ward, learn more about accessing Talking Tiddlers


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Songs and rhymes help toddlers to put words and phrases together. Why not pause and let your little one fill in the blanks when you’re singing? e.g. ‘Row, row, row your ….’ 

Introduce actions to your little one’s favourite songs to help their understanding of the words they are singing. 

The rhythm and rhyme of songs makes it easier for your little one to pick up new words and phrases – even in languages that are not their own. 

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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At this age your toddler will be learning how objects are used together. This is why they enjoy filling and emptying containers and playing with water, sand and blocks.

Your little one is also making connections between objects for example, they might like placing little people on a toy bus. S/he is learning about size as they stack rings. They’re noticing similarities when they line up two toy cars that look the same.

Everything that surrounds your toddler is interesting to them, so here are a few ideas of the kind of objects your little one might enjoy at this age that you can find at home or buy in the shops…

  • Anything that interlocks (like plastic blocks or pegs)
  • Spoons, cups, saucepans, colanders, sieves
  • Boxes of different shapes and sizes
  • Containers with lids for your little one to open and close
  • Nesting cups/rings or shape-sorters
  • Anything to push, post, switch, dial or turn!
  • Chunky wooden puzzles


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Many toddlers find the familiar routine of reading reassuring and calming. Talking about the pictures in the book and asking questions such as “What does the dog say?” or “Do you see the cat?” “What’s that?” all helps your toddler. Your little one may begin to answer questions with a word, if they answer, you can add in a word ‘Yes, car. That’s a big car.”

Ask your little one to point to real-life examples of what’s pictured, e.g. whilst looking at a picture of a dog’s nose you could say “Where’s your nose?” If you’re looking at animal pictures, make animal noises together.

Begin to introduce books with a sentence or two per page. Why not bring the story to life by using props, puppets or objects? You could even act it out!

Sharing books together at bedtime can become a familiar and calming routine. Your little one may ask for the same book over and over again or appear to have ‘favourites’. This repetition may be boring for us, but it is actually so good for their learning. Experts think it helps little ones make sense of and then remember new words.


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.


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 live in one of the A Better Start areas (wards) look out for your 23 month WellComm screen invitation which will be sent to you directly by text

If you have any concerns about your little one’s language and communication development and live in one of the 6 A Better Start areas. Please email the Let’s Talk Team for information and advice. If you live out of the A Better Start areas do contact your Health Visitor to share your concern and they can help to ensure your little one is supported.

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