Talk To Your Baby


Talk To Your Baby 2021: Bringing it all back home

We are delighted to announce that Talk To Your Baby 2021 will take place on 29 March, and our focus will be wellbeing.

The wellbeing of young children and families has come into sharp focus in recent months following the impact of COVID-19 and global conversations around race and inequality sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement.

We will therefore explore how we can cultivate environments that better support young children’s wellbeing through language development, while also examining the role of cross-sector engagement in enhancing the lives of young families who are most in need of support.

The home learning environment has been a guiding theme of the last two conferences and 2021 will provide a summary of those conversations and an appraisal of the progress that has been made to date.

Resources for families

Words for Life is our comprehensive online zone for parents seeking ideas and guidance for activities that will engage their children at home, whilst also benefiting their reading, writing and language development.

Find out more.
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Talking to your baby at home

We've gathered some top tips to keep parents talking to their babies during lockdown.

Find out more
Dad sharing book with child attachment theory

Talk To Your Baby 2020

Last year's conference took place on 27 January at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

Thank you to everyone who spoke, listened, asked questions and helped us make the day such a success.

We have collated various resources, articles and links that you can use to continue your learning from the event. These are available here.

See you next year!

2020 speakers

  • Keynote - Jan Dubiel - the importance of early language as the vehicle for cognition and its role in wider development
  • Deborah Powers - Time To Talk Warwickshire's new toolkit for practitioners
  • Judith Park - the National Literacy Trust's Small Talk initiative and the chat, play, read approach
  • Michelle Peter - the relationship between language processing speed and vocabulary acquisition
  • Dave Neale - the benefits of play in learning and development, and how we can harness them
  • Alison David - parents' perceptions of reading to young children and how to help promote shared reading
  • Jeanne Shinskey and Jessie Ricketts - the impact of lift-the-flap books on early language acquisition, and a new Nuffield-funded project on educational picture books for one-year-olds

2019 speakers

We thoroughly enjoyed Talk To Your Baby 2019 and hope you did too. Thank you to everyone who helped make it such a success.

Download highlights from our 2019 conference.

Thank you to our amazing speakers:

  • Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central - Keynote
  • Susie Owen, Deputy Director for Early Years, DfE, - policies around improving the home learning environment
  • Cerys Griffiths - BBC's early years strategy
  • Professor Ludovica Serratrice - language of babies in bilingual families
  • Nick Skinner - singing to your baby
  • Jess Eddlestone and Jenny Smillie - activity in early years settings in Greater Manchester
  • Professor Elizabeth Meins - 'mind-mindedness' and child development
  • Professor Anna Theakston - latest research on the effect of babies' environment on later language learning
  • Tracey Jevvons-Hazard - the evidence base for Nottingham's Small Steps, Big Changes project

If adults talk with children effectively—taking the lead from the child, elaborating on what they say, asking questions, sharing rhymes or songs or books— then children are given the best start in developing the cognitive tools they need to succeed at school.

Early Intervention Foundation, The Best Start at Home, 2015

Early Years at the National Literacy Trust

The National Literacy Trust has a long history of working in the early years sector, directly changing childrens' lives through literacy. Below is a small selection of our work. Remember you can always contact us to find out more.

Early Words Together

Our flexible and evidence based programme to improve literacy skills with families in a nursery setting. Proven to improve children's language development and parental engagement, this programme has been stringently evaluated and implemented across the country.

We have also developed Early Words Together at 2, Early Words Together at 3 and Early Words Together for Multilingual Families. The best way to find out more is to get in touch with the team.

Small Talk

Small Talk forms part of our home learning environment initiative, run with the Department for Education (DfE). Judith Parke presented on the project as part of the conference, and outlined the need within the most disadvantaged communities in England. Children from these communities start primary school with a vocabulary 19 months behind their peers, a gap most will never recover from.

Small Talk works to combat this issue through local events where volunteers model chat, play and read activities from our new website ( Families can also sign up to our monthly newsletter. This targeted communication will provide parents with a new activity each month to try out, as well as providing another nudge towards doing these activities more often as part of their day-to-day routine.

HELLO improvement framework

This self-report and improvement framework can be used by practitioners and settings to review their own practices and implement positive changes to their communication, language and literacy provision. The framework focuses on three key areas, partnerships with parents, skilled practitioners and enabling environments.

For more information, read the final report from HELLO in Manchester.

Bilingual Quick Tips

We have created a series of bilingual quick tips, in 19 different languages, for parents and early years practitioners to help children develop good talking and listening skills.

If the language you need isn’t listed, we have created a blank template for each topic so that you can adapt it to the desired language.

Previous delegates

Previous delegates can still access the presentations from that year's conference. If you are having trouble accessing the page, please email

Find out about next year's conference