Talk With Me – Gareth Anscombe

‘Talk with me’ helps and supports families to talk and play with their children in the early years (ages 0-5). Through sharing expert tips and free resources, ‘Talk with me’ helps parents and carers across Wales to support their children’s speech development.

We sat down with Welsh Rugby Union player Gareth Anscombe to discuss how he has supported his two young children, Teifi and Theo, as they learn to talk.

Gareth, can you tell us about your children and the stages they’ve reached with their talking?

My daughter, Teifi, is named after a river in West Wales and was born September 2020, so she’s now going on two-and-a-half years old. She’s at nursery and is a bundle of energy! She’s also very communicative and very good with her speech – she speaks a million miles a minute.

Theo is six months old and currently has chickenpox – gifted by his big sister – so it’s been an eventful couple of weeks! He’s still very young, so is just starting to get some personality, but he’s a really happy baby. It’s still a bit too early to say what his speech is going to be like though.

Did your family talk to Theo before he was born?

As my wife got bigger, we’d all cuddle and talk to the bump, and Teifi loved that. They have a really good relationship and Theo finds her very funny.

I’m from a family of five, and my older sister is 18 months older than me. So, we wanted that close age gap – we knew it would be tricky at times as parents, but the reward is bigger. It’s been really nice watching their relationship grow.


Did Teifi show early signs of learning to talk, even before she could use words?

Yes, Teifi made baby noises. My wife and I always make a habit of talking with our children and having conversations even if they can’t use words yet. For example, we show them things and are very clear in the way we speak to them.

We also watch TV and talk about what we can see, and have read with them as much as possible from an early age.

Teifi picked up talking really well and is very chatty and funny. When we were torn between two names for her baby brother, we told her the names we liked best. She then shared the name ‘Theo’ with everyone – friends and family – which we were keeping a secret! Thankfully they didn’t quite understand what she was saying, but we knew!


What was Teifi’s first word?

Her first word was ‘Daddy’!  We’re really, really close and have a great relationship. I’m away at times because of my profession, and she misses me. So, my wife is always mentioning ‘Daddy this’ and ‘Daddy that’, and I think the word was etched in her brain.

Her first word – used in the right context – was ‘hiya’. It was so funny – she’d walk around everywhere with her New Zealand accent, saying ‘hiya’ to everyone. It was really sweet. She learns something new each day at nursery too and comes and tells me about it.


What does quality time look like for your family?

I love going out for breakfast, probably too much so! But we love it as a family and try to make a real effort to eat together. We make the food together too, and turn the routine into a time for conversation. We also enjoy walking the dog as a family and all the interaction that comes with it. Although, Teifi struggles with the long walks, so we don’t go too far. Otherwise, it becomes a massive mission of me carrying her the entire way!

Does your family enjoy sharing rhymes too?

We sing a lot together! Teifi loves Baby Shark, Tupac, Elton John, and ‘The Snowman’ by Sia – a wide range. It’s really cool to watch her grow and see what she’s interested in. My wife is Serbian too, so her and the grandparents do their best to share the language with Teifi.

Why do you think it’s important for parents to talk and play with their children?

It’s helped massively with Teifi and Theo’s development.

For me, talking and playing builds a relationship with your child. I strive to make them laugh every day – we have inside jokes, and I know just how to entertain Teifi! It lights up my day and they bring me right back down to earth after an intense game or training session. Your children just want your love and support.

For expert advice and resources on talk and play in the early years, visit the ‘Talk with me’ webpage:

You can find even more information on the ‘Talk with me’ Facebook page: @Siarad gyda fi – Talk with me.