Helping your Deaf Child to Develop Communication and Language (0–2)

Good communication and language matters whatever your child’s age, but it’s especially important in the early years.

Most parents of deaf children are hearing and don't have much experience of hearing loss so it’s understandable that you might feel unsure about how to engage with your child.

In most cases there is no reason why with the right support and encouragement your child can’t develop the same language and communication skills as other children.

There are many simple things you can do to create an environment where there is lots of communication and interaction. We’ve produced a guide with information and advice to help you with this.

The guide includes:

  • information about communication and language development
  • practical ideas to promote communication and language development
  • information about the support you can expect to receive
  • a detailed explanation of what we mean when we say communication and language.

Tips for communication and language with babies aged 0–12 months

More tips and helpful information and guidance for parents of children aged 0–2 years are available in the guide.

At 0–3 months old:

  • Keep on talking/signing during everyday routines – nappy changing, bathing etc.
  • Sing to your baby. Babies love to listen to people singing, and it helps naturally emphasise the rhythm and tone of your voice which really helps language learning.

At 6 months old:

  • Get some baby books for your baby to explore. Your baby may throw them or put them in their mouths but this early exposure to books can help to develop an interest in them.
  • Baby swings are great for saying hello and goodbye.
  • Copy baby's babble patterns and mould them into real words – "dada – yes, Daddy's coming!".

At 9 months old:

  • Carry on singing action songs and nursery rhymes, using actions and signs to go with them – leave gaps when you sing to allow your baby to take a turn. Watch Sense's video on signing songs for tips and ideas.
  • Share books with your baby. Big colourful picture books work best at this age.
  • Watch programmes for young children together and talk/sign about what's happening.

At 12 months old:

  • Respond to your baby's communication attempts by repeating words your baby has said and expanding on them on them, for example, baby says: “tar”, you say: “yes, car! That’s Mummy’s/Daddy’s car!” Keep introducing new words into their lives.
  • Look at picture books together, but let Teddy look too – soon your child will be reading Teddy a story. Watch Sense's video on sensory stories for tips and ideas.
  • Keep talking about feelings and introducing new words to describe them. For example, “What a surprise!” or “Mummy/Daddy’s feeling a bit sad today”.

Download the guide

Helping Your Deaf Child to Develop Communication and Language and 0–2 (952 kb) [pdf]

More useful resources

  • Our Communication section has lots of information on deaf awareness and ways to communication with your child.
  • Our Helpline is on hand from Monday to Friday to answer any questions you have about childhood hearing loss.
  • Talk to other parents about their experiences on our Parent Place forum
  • Attend one of our family events near where you live.