For language to develop a child must be able to hear well. If you are worried about your child’s hearing e.g. your child does not always respond when spoken to, will often say ‘what?’ or listens to the TV on high volume, ask your Health Visitor or GP for advice.
Children may be able to hear but not listen to what you say. Listening to language involves hearing the words, paying attention to them, thinking about them and then understanding them. You can help your child’s listening skills by keeping the TV/ music off for talking times and make a point of helping your child listen to sounds around them in everyday situations!
Children have to learn to focus their attention on to different things. This usually starts with attending to people, then to objects, then being able to share their attention between people and things they are interested in. Children need to develop their attention skills before they learn to understand words and learn to talk. You can help your baby and young toddler by finding simple shared activities that you both focus on like blowing bubbles- try one more turn each time to help them pay attention for longer!
Looking at people and their faces is a very important part of communication and interaction. Babies are naturally attracted to faces, and have usually learned to give eye-contact by only a few hours old. Looking at faces gives babies and children the chance to learn about other people, as they begin to understand facial expressions, body language and how sounds are made. Looking and watching another person leads to good listening and good conversation skills. Just by looking at people, children can communicate powerful messages without words: for example a child may ask for an object, or draw an adult’s attention to it by looking. People games like tickling, peekaboo help your child develop looking and eye contact.