Development, communication and play

There are three sets of skills your baby develops as they grow and they are all closely linked. Your baby will need to develop one skill to learn another.

  1. Their physical growth and development
  2. Their ability to play and learn
  3. Their communication and language skills

These three sets of skills need to be working in tune. However sometimes this doesn’t happen; for example, babies who are born prematurely often develop a little more slowly, sometimes if a child’s speech is delayed this can prevent their ability to play and learn. This is why keeping your appointment for your baby’s regular growth and developmental screening with your health visiting team is really important.

For further reading on growth and development, see the NHS website, your Red Book or speak to your health visitor.

Your baby’s brain growth

Your baby’s brain goes through a rapid period of growth between the ages of 0 and 2. The neural pathways that connect in your baby’s brain now will form the building blocks of their future growth and development so this is a crucial time.

For more information watch the video below on how the brain architecture is built from the Centre on the Developing Child, Harvard University


As a parent, you are your child’s very first and favourite playmate. From the very beginning of your child’s life, they are playing with you, whether they are watching your face as you feed them or listening to your voice as you sing to them during their nappy change. They are at work, watching, learning and exploring.

Playtime is special for parents and children. Not only is it fun, but it is critical to children’s development. Play is their “work” and their way of learning about the world around them. Through play, babies and toddlers try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and learn about relationships with other people.

Some parents find it very hard to learn to play or talk with their baby or child. Some parents may feel that all they do is take care of them and that it is hard work.

Local Children’s Centres offer lots of groups for parents wanting to learn how to have fun with their child. Find your nearest Children’s Centre in Hackney or the City.

How we helped

I was given good advice about how to help my daughter with speech.

How to keep your baby or toddler active

Keeping your baby and toddler active is very important for their physical and brain development and is something that you can do together.

The Hackney Active Kids Guide gives lots of information and ideas about activities for you and your child.

Understanding your child’s behaviour

The First Steps service runs a group for parents and carers called “Understanding your child’s behaviour”, which is based on the Solihull Approach. For more information watch the video below.