Parenting 101: Baby Talk

Our son Tyler has always been a very “outspoken” little boy. When he has something on his mind, he’ll do his best to let you know what it is. Unfortunately, the language barriers between me and a 16-month-old can be a bit challenging at times. Lucky for me, Tyler is very persistent and will eventually lead me to whatever he needs.


As of this writing, Tyler has about 25 words in his vocabulary—not to mention a few spot-on animal and car impressions. But they always say it’s that first word you’ll remember the most.


It was January 10. Tyler was seven months old. Sitting in his car seat while we rushed around him getting ready to leave, his tiny little voice, clear as day, said “Dada.” I couldn’t believe my ears. My baby said his first word. But wait, Dada? Not Mama? After all, it was I who went through 14 hours of labor only to have an emergency C-Section. It was I who breastfed him for the first year of his life, giving him all the nutrients he needed to survive. I chalked it up to what everyone had told me—Dada was far easier to say. I wrote Dada on the calendar under “First Word” and waited. I knew that any minute, he would say Mama. Mama would surely be Tyler’s second word.


Ball. That was Tyler’s second word. He was 10 months old. And he said it 300 times a day. Everything round was (and still is) a ball to him.


When Tyler finally said Mama he was 11 months old. Of course, I remember the first time I heard it. My husband, Andy, was giving Tyler dinner and I was in the kitchen. I heard him making the mmmm sound and then he just kind of yelled out, “Mama!”


I ran over clapping and said, “What did you say?” He looked at me, smiled his huge dimpled smile, and said “Dada.” I think he was mocking me. It was okay though—he said Mama and I had a witness! I wrote it on the calendar with a big happy face.


Over the next few months, Mama and Dada were interchangeable between me and my husband, not to mention grandparents and aunts and uncles. Eventually he started getting it right. It still amazes me that children are able to understand as much as they can at such a young age.


As Tyler’s vocabulary grows, he’s able to tell us all kinds of things. For instance, I know “Bell-O” is by far his favorite “nack.” He often eats “wabbles” or “nanas” for breakfast and drinks “buice” on occasion. When he eats sandwiches, he prefers them (along with most everything else) topped with “chee.”


As an animal lover (he gets that from both of us), Tyler clearly says kitty and puppy. We often walk down the street to stare at the neighbor’s yard, hoping their Weimaraner dog is out back. Tyler will stand there and wait patiently. He’ll repeat “puppy, puppy, puppy,” with his shoulders shrugged like “Well, I’m here. Where’s the dog?”


Knee, eye, papa, hey bubba, moon, and hi are just a few of his other words and sayings. Every time I hear him say a new word, it amazes me. I continue to write them down in my journal to keep track.


Recently, after a bad day, Tyler said the best thing ever, immediately brightening my spirit. He was waking up from his afternoon nap and I went in quietly to pick him up. He sat up, smiled at me, and said “Hi, Mommy” in his tiny voice.


I know eventually he’ll probably tell me no and talk back. But for now, everything my little man says is perfect to me. It’s music to my ears.

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