A new scheme aimed at developing listening and talking in young babies to give them the best possible start when they begin school has been launched in Sussex.

Young Jake Taylor doesn't know it yet but he's already advanced in his education.

As far as the 16-month-old toddler is concerned, he is just encouraged to play lots of games with his mother, Tina, and listen to a variety of different sounds repeated as often as possible.

But the youngster is one of dozens in Brighton taking part in a Baby Talk programme designed to boost youngsters' listening and language skills.

The scheme is run by speech and language therapists Sheena Davison and Susan Duffy, who are based at the Education Action Zone, Wellesbourne Centre, Whitehawk Road, Brighton.

They are successfully using a creative programme of simple games, such as blowing bubbles, to catch children's attention.

Mrs Davison said: "We visit families at home, discuss their baby's listening and language skills and suggest ideas and games to boost those skills."

Mrs Duffy said: "All the games are to do with listening and sounds.

"We use things people have at home like pans and wooden spoons that the kids can bang away on.

"The idea is they will make noises with their voices at the same time as noises with toys."

The project is a joint enterprise by South Downs Health NHS Trust, the Education Action Zone and New Deal for Communities in East Brighton.

It currently operates in Whitehawk and Moulsecoomb and builds on work started by speech and language therapists in Manchester.

Tina, of Whitehawk, is delighted with her son's progress.

She said: "When he was very little, he had problems with ear infections and his hearing was affected.

"In ordinary circumstances this would have slowed down his development but because of the course he is actually advanced for his age.

"It also means he is not behind any other children at his age, which will be good for his confidence as he gets older and goes to nursery and on to school.

"At first, some of the things the nurses asked me to do seemed a bit silly, such as constantly repeating words to Jake like "dinner".

"But after a while he started responding and saying the word back to me every time he was being given his dinner. His vocabulary is very good.

"I also had to remember basic things, like keeping eye contact with him when saying things, and playing games which has really helped.

"It is a terrific scheme and has worked wonders. The things you say obviously have a large bearing on the child's development."

Mrs Davison said: "Families who have been on the Baby Talk programme say they feel confident to help develop their children's language.

"They enjoy the games together and the infants make rapid progress.

"The feedback from parents has been very good and they are really pleased with the results.

"It is all done through play and encouragement and you can see the children are enjoying it.

"Research has shown that a scheme like this can help to give children a fantastic boost."