When is a word really a word?

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Categories Development, ToddlersTags , 9 Comments

My kids are trying to talk.  Well, in truth, they’re talking up a storm.  Just not in any language that I know.  They use lots of different consonants, vowels, intonations, and volumes.  They mimic sounds that I make, and seem to understand some of the things I say (especially if they involve food).  But when I look at the books that say they should have “a few words besides mama and dada”…  um…. Shoot.  I’m not even sure they have mama and dada.  Oh sure, they can say mama and dada.  But do they mean me and M when they say it?  Questionable.

Of all the things we moms worry about, language development might be the most common one I hear amongst my MOT friends.  There’s certainly literature out there about twins often being a bit delayed in that area.  Maybe we’re more sensitive to the issue because it’s already “out there,” or maybe it’s just that noticeable in our own kids.

Plus, I think that what I heard about “first words” made it seem as though suddenly, out of the blue, these clear words would just ring out from my kids’ mouths.  Needless to say, that has not been the case.  I’m pretty sure my daughter’s first word was “cracker,” but I’ll be damned if I can get her to say it again.  Now, I’m amazed at how many words in her world start with “d.”  Everything is a variation of da-da.  Dog: “gah-dah.”  Daddy: “dah-dah” (maybe).  Daniel: “dah-doh” (sort of).  Her version of “dog” is probably the most consistent thing she says.  But it so much less clear-cut than I imagined it would be.  I really thought I’d easily be able to say “aha!  That’s a word!  She’s saying ‘dog’!”  But no.  The lines are a lot fuzzier.  You catch things that sound an awful lot like a particular word, but it’s fleeting and you have no idea if that’s what she meant, or if it was just a coincidence of sound.

I don’t necessarily think my kids are significantly delayed.  I think they’re experimenting with lots of sounds and they’ll get there.  I’ll ask the pediatrician when we see her in November.  But, as in all things parenting, nothing is nearly as clear as we’d like it to be.

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