Sarah's Thoughts The Voice Sarah's Thoughts

Last month we were pleased to team up with to ask parents about their children’s early speech and language learning. Every parent waits to hear their baby speak their very first word and there is often friendly rivalry between parents trying to guess what that word will be! We can now reveal that ‘Mum’ takes the number one position, with 23.06% of the vote, closely followed by ‘Dad’ with 18.60%. 24.38% parents said their child spoke their first word between the ages of 6 and 9 months (we should add that there is no ‘right’ age for a baby’s first word; many parents find their baby’s babbling starts to sound like real words from around 9 months, but if you have any concerns, speak to a speech and language therapist).

Baby and MumAn interesting result to emerge from our survey was the fact that just over half (50.36%) of parents believe that talking to their unborn baby will help them learn to talk. Overall, mums were more likely to chat to their bump than their partners were; when asked how often they talked to their unborn baby,  48.70% of mums answered ‘all the time’ and a further 34.32% answered ‘a little’, compared to 38.36% and 37.62% respectively for their partners.

Most parents like to believe that their unborn baby can hear them, but is there any science behind the theory? While it is very unlikely that your baby can make out distinct words from inside the womb, the sound of your voice can be very soothing for them – some women report that their baby stops kicking when they hear mum talk.

Certainly once a baby is born, talking to them is extremely important. Listening to you talk is your baby’s main way of learning to talk for themselves. This is why a hearing test is so important and should be performed as soon as possible once they are born.

When talking to your newborn, try to get in the habit of using descriptive language – for example, rather than ‘would you like this?’ say ‘would you like teddy bear? Look at his red bow!’ This helps your baby to connect your language with the world around them.

Another interesting result from our survey found that parents are unsure about the impact of modern technology on their children’s speech and language learning. While there is a case against using smartphones and tablets at a very young age, it should also be said that some parents, teachers and therapists find speech and language apps to be a helpful addition to a child’s learning. For instance, children that have dyspraxia require repetitive practice in order to develop the motor movements for speech, so an app that can offer this practice with real-world vocabulary and pleasing visuals can be a useful learning tool. Of course apps should not replace traditional tools and strategies, but when used correctly may enrich a child’s learning.

Once again we are pleased to have worked alongside on this research and hope that it provides an interesting insight into the fascinating subject that is speech and language development.

If you would like more information on this topic Integrated Treatment Services are available throughout the week to discuss ways we can support you or answer any questions you may have. We are happy to speak with you over the telephone on: 0845 838 2921 or by email on:

If you have found this article helpful and have more questions then you can contact us with ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future blogs by simply clicking Ask us a Question’.

Written on behalf of Integrated Treatment Services

December 2013

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