Language development in the first years of life

Presented by Dr Marina Kalashnikova, MARCS BabyLab

In the first years of their life, infants face the challenging task of language development and learning languages used in their community. Young infants are remarkable, they learn language rapidly and seemingly with little effort. How do they succeed in such a difficult task?

Babies start listening in the womb around the 2nd trimester and start to distinguish between mums voice and what’s happening around them. In this informative Bupa Parenting Insights talk, Dr Marina Kalashnikova from the Babylab MARCS Institute discusses the development of babies’ abilities to learn the sounds and words of their language, and on how these early abilities relate to later language and literacy skills.


Dr Kalashnikova also shares insights about when infants learn their first words on average. For example, by 12 months of age a baby can recognise and understand on average around 80 words and by 2 and a half years old, that rises to around 400 words. For parents who are concerned about late starters, rest assured, the Babylab MARCS Institute research has shown that then tend to catch up by 3 to 4 years of age.

You’ll also hear insights on how 'baby talk' can help with early language development and social skills. Dr Kalashnikova also talks about the important factor of parents’ speech to their infants which can be beneficial for babies’ early language development. The amount of speech the babies in their studies had experienced had a direct impact on the range of babies vocabulary and language development.

Listen in to learn how you can help with your little one’s language development.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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