2. Support for children aged 0 – 6 months

Children develop language at different rates. However, understanding what is typical can help you identify speech and language problems early.

You can also find out how to help your child learn to talk and develop their communication skills.

Children develop skills at different rates but by 6 months, usually, children will:

  • Turn towards a sound when they hear it
  • Be startled by loud noises
  • Watch your face when you talk to them
  • Recognise your voice
  • Smile and laugh when other people smile and laugh
  • Make sounds to themselves, like cooing, gurgling and babbling
  • Make noises, like coos or squeals, to get your attention
  • Have different cries for different needs. For example, one cry for hunger, another when they are tired.

How to support your child

There are lots of things you can do to encourage your child at this stage:

  • Copy sounds your baby makes. This will encourage more noises and is the start of turn-taking and conversations
  • Hold your baby near your face when you talk to them so that they can see you clearly
  • Talk to your baby about what you are doing. This will help them to start to learn words
  • Talk in a sing-song voice to your baby. This will keep them interested in what you are saying
  • Have some special time with your child each day to play with toys and picture books.

Things to look out for

Speech and language skills develop from a very early age. However, some children do not develop the early skills they need.

These can be very difficult to spot from an early age. Here are four examples that would cause concern at 6 months:

  • If a baby is not startled by loud noises
  • If a baby does not engage in eye contact when spoken to
  • If a baby does not smile back at someone smiling at them
  • If a baby does not watch a speaker’s face with interest.