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0-1 Years

It used to be thought that babies ‘just eat and sleep’ We now know that babies are born to be sociable and want to communicate with their loved ones from their first moments.
Babies can show us what they need and how they are feel from their earliest days.
In the first year of life babies are keen to learn and build communication skills that help them understand and be understood.
Parents and carers are the most important teachers for their little ones at this time.


  • When your baby is very first born let them hear your voice – it doesn’t matter what you say.
    It is a big moment for all of you. Your voice will be familiar from when they were growing inside and you can reassure your baby that you are there.

    When your baby is first born it will take some time for you to get to know each other.
    Your baby will give you ‘cues’ that will help you work out what they need and how they are feeling.
    There is a great video to help you with this *here*

    Responding to your baby quickly will help your baby feel confident they can rely on you and help you continue to build a strong bond with each other.

    Skin to Skin
    You may have heard about ‘skin to skin’ time immediately after birth.
    Holding your baby with their bare skin next to yours has many benefits for carers and baby.
    This continues to be a really useful way to help you and your baby get to know each other in the early weeks and months. It can help calm your baby and gives you the chance to get to know their little ways.
    You can read more about the importance of skin to skin *here*

    Being Held
    Your baby will probably want to be held a lot as they get used to being in the big world.
    This is an important time and you shouldn’t worry that you will ‘spoil’ your baby.

    Holding your baby;

    • Builds your baby’s confidence that they can rely on you.
    • Helps your baby get to know your face and look at you (your baby’s favourite thing to do).
    • Allows you to more easily notice their baby cues and respond quickly.
    • Calms down the baby (and you).

  • During your babies first year of life there are lots of simple steps you can take to build communication skills. This will help them let you, and the world, know what they want and how they feel. The early skills for speech and language begin here.

    From day one your baby will enjoy ‘chatting’ singing and being read to. It can feel a bit strange to begin with and some people say it makes them ‘feel silly’ but it is so important for your baby’s development of understanding, speech and language skills.
    Babies love to look at your face and will watch your expression and how your mouth moves. You may notice they try and copy your movements.

    • The more you talk to your baby the more natural it will feel. Talk to your baby about what you are doing, what you can see and how you feel.
    • Choose the right time to chat with your baby - just like grown ups babies feel more chatty at certain times in their day – there are tips to help you spot the best moments here
    • Your baby’s attention span will grow day by day. They will be able to react and respond to your voice from further away as they get older.
    • As the days and weeks go by you will get more and more back from your baby and they will reward you with smiles and begin to ‘answer’ with coos and babbling Take it in ‘turns’ allow the space for your baby to ‘answer’ you – you can guess what they might want to say and have a proper chat this way.

    The increasing range of babble, shouts and noises your baby makes are an important step towards their first words.

    When parents and carers show interest and enjoyment in what their baby has to ‘say’ this will builds their confidence and self esteem. When babies feel listened to they will want to try more and more sounds out.

    • Make lots of eye contact
    • Keep your sentences short and words simple
    • Keep your voice ‘musical’ and interesting (‘baby talk’ is loved by little ones)
    • Take notice of the things that they seem interested in and talk about tem
    • Don’t be distracted by your phone or the TV – your baby needs to be able to see your whole face and have eye contact with you.

  • Words have a rhythm and a pattern – this is even more the case when we sing. Babies really enjoy being sung to. It helps them begin to understand how language works.
    Babies love nursery rhymes – they are simple and usually have lots of repetition – they are easy to remember and tell simple stories.

    They will also enjoy you singing along to the radio or ‘made up’ songs.
    Babies don’t mind how you sound, or what you sing, they just care that you are singing to them – it makes them feel special and loved.

  • The smallest baby enjoys being read to – babies love the sound of your voice and the pattern of words. They enjoy having your undivided attention

    • Children’s books with rhymes and simple stories are good. Reading anything from magazines to shopping lists is fine by your baby.
    • Join your local library (they don’t mind if books get a bit ‘chewed’ and dribbled on) Find out more about Norfolk Libraries *here*
    • You don’t have to read the words – you can just chat about the pictures and what you see. There are tips from the Booktrust on reading to your baby *here*

  • Some babies get a lot of comfort from sucking on their dummy. It is a personal choice for parents whether they give their baby a dummy or not.
    It is advised that babies don’t use a dummy beyond the age of one. One of the reasons for this is that it can slow down speech development.

    • Keep dummies for sleep times as much as you can -distract your baby with chat and play when they are awake
    • Take the dummy away when your baby is making noises, trying to babble and chat
    • As your baby grows try and shift them to a teddy or blanket as a comforter
    The NHS has some tips for helping wean your baby off their dummy *here*

  • Taking your baby out and about is good for them and you – it gives a whole new set of things, people and situations for you and your baby to experience and talk about together.

    • To make the most of the chatting opportunity your baby’s pram / buggy should be facing you. This is particularly important in the first year of life.
    • Babies are much more able to join in and chat with you when they can easily see your face. You will also be able to spot straight away when something interests them, or when something worries them and they need reassurance.
    • If your child’s buggy is forward facing then be sure to stop regularly – get down to your babies level and talk about what you can see.
    • Talk about the noises, the smells, the people and things around you.


Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

*Click Here* to speak to other Norfolk parents and carers on our online community forum. 

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