Behold, For She Speaks! (Sort of)

I wasn’t entirely nervous when the Doctor With Attitude (who I must say, has lightened up significantly on the attitude since I became a second-time mom without quite so many pesky questions) asked whether Sage was babbling.

“You know – mamamama, dadadada, gagagaga…that sort of thing.”

“Um, no. She really isn’t. She’s not big on consonants.” I forced a nervous laugh. “Just a lot of aiyiyiyiyi.”

He didn’t seem worried. I didn’t act worried.

Then I raced home to to the blog (thank goodness for the blog, for I am not so good with the baby book) and found what I was looking for. Thalia’s first word: Cat. At 8 months and 11 days.

But Sage, closing in on ten months?


Not a ga. Not a da. Not a bababababa.

But you know, we second-time parents aren’t supposed to worry about this kind of thing. So I didn’t. I didn’t worry. Nope, not a bit. Not for a minute. Not at all. Never once. Nope, never.


My mind races back to the toxo. What if it did affect her? What if all the negative tests were wrong? What if it’s the reason she has no words, no teeth, no hair, and can’t yet do long division?

And then two weeks ago, suddenly it seemed like Sage was saying “hi” every time she forced her tiny fingers open and closed. And then there was the thhhhhhh sound and the spray of saliva on my face to show for it.

And then, literally overnight: The babbling. The nonstop, god-loving babbling. Glorious Rs. Miraculous Ds. Sloppy but well-intended Ls. And a whole lot of dadas, because damn those Dadas, they always get theirs first.

We even think she’s trying to say Thalia.

Sage pondering her next word. Maybe mama. Maybe onomatopoeia.

29 thoughts on “Behold, For She Speaks! (Sort of)”

  1. My first baby had her first words at 6 months, and complete sentences by a year. Little beast.My second didn’t speak One. Single. Word. until 15 months. Not one. And yet he had complete sentences by 18 months. They just do what they do when they’re ready… and if they can drag you down into an endless vortex of insanity and doubt in the process, well, all the better!

  2. One of mine didn’t say a word until she was almost 2. Now she is in first grade, and reads at a 6th grade level. She also has the vocabulary to support that reading level. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

  3. Yeah for Sage babbling! It’s just a relief when they finally start doing the next developmental milestone, whenever it is that they do them. And what is up with the dadadadas??? Mine is finally starting to go mamamama at almost 12 months, but she’s been saying dadada for a few months.

  4. You know, I had worked in the field of autism for a number of years and so when my 2nd (a boy) didn’t talk/babble as soon as his older sister I, well I freaked.However, (much like in your case) soon after my cross-comparison of the word list from his sister and how she had something like 10 words by his age, he really started gabbing away. And you know, he’s still that way (I mean he’s not quite 3 yet but still, you get my drift). He takes longer to get up to speed but once he does, it’s all at once!

  5. Yup, number one (all boys) spoke at about a year, right in line with guidelines. #2 didn’t really do anything (he’d say a word once, watch us get all excited, then not say it ever again) until he was 2. Then he just started talking, with sentences and everything and never stopped. #3 didn’t speak (other than the occasional smallish word) till he was 2.5 yo. Thank heavens he was the third, and we didn’t have too much extra time to worry. I have a speech therapist friend who assured me she’d let me know if I had to worry and she swore that she could tell I didn’t have to. He’s perfectly fine at 5.5 and you’d NEVER know there was a time he didn’t want to talk.

  6. The hard consonants like g and d are easier for a child to form and say than the L or M so we almost only get dadadadada before mama. And milestones, they ain’t gonna happen until the kid is ready so there is no use in getting upset about it. My first , a male, had three word sentences by 18 months: my second, a female, had very few words by the time she was two…and had to be prompted to talk. If she wanted something I had to with hold it unit she would say it because we knew she knew the words but she wouldn’t say them. Soon she was talking a blue streak. My third followed the pattern of her older brother. They are all different…

  7. Mira hasn’t been that interested in the whole communication process yet. I babble to her “Say mamamamama, Mira!” and she just shakes her head no at me. We also have lots of aiyiyiyiyiii here. Cordy was babbling far earlier, but Mira is also way ahead of her on physical development. While Cordy still didn’t crawl at this age, Mira is already pulling up and thinking about balancing on her legs.

  8. Listen, the important thing is that you put it all down in Sage’s baby book because god forbid you skip an entry in your second child’s baby book she’ll have some kind of baby book abandonment syndrome for the rest of her life. Just ask my baby book deprived little sister.

  9. I’ve been blogging on a similar topic lately, comparing the second baby to the first. Finally I just realized all babies are different and stopped trying to hold this new one up to the same standards as his big sister. Easier said than done though, right?

  10. I swear that my son is going to be the case study for the kid who says NOTHING intelligible for years, mother refuses to do anything to ‘move him along’, and he turns out FINE and even becomes a famous public speaker. At least, that is how I hope things turn out. Otherwise, he’ll be an adult that speaks like he’s just eaten a jar of peanut butter. Love the photo of Sage. I miss that happy little baby.

  11. I couldn’t resist your blog. You drew me right in with your “I don’t know what I’m doing either”. My twins just passed the ten month stage and one is saying “da-da” and the other “ma ma” but they both want mama whenever they can see hear or smell me. Each of my kids have been so different but I’m with you on the no worrying…ever, nope, never, not me, yeah right.. it’s the curse of motherhood.

  12. In several families that I know, the second child didn’t speak for the longest. One family with 4 little girls that I babysat for, the third girl spoke a bable-language that the second girl had to translate for me. I think second children just don’t have to worry about it. 🙂

  13. My younger sister spoke much later than I did. It turned out she was tongue tied– as in, literally; her tongue was attached a bit too securely to the bottom of her mouth, which made consonants harder for her to learn to say. It gave her a pretty adorable slight speech impediment for her first eight or nine years, until a doctor finally decided she needed it fixed. (No one made fun of her about this. She was much too pretty and charming to be made fun of– something I always envied, actually.)But we both would up skipping a grade in elementary school because of our advanced verbal and reading skills.

  14. EVERY time I started to freak out about something regarding my son’s development, within the next week he would make me look like an idiot by not only doing whatever it was, but doing it like he’d been practicing for months. It’s just part of their job.

  15. Yay! Good for Sage!I know Caramama mentioned the lack of Mamamamas…but really, it’s maybe better those wait. Our little boy said the mamas early. And did so by going mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm(build wad of spit…) *ptui* aaaaaaaaahhhhh.He has a habit of making milestones have a touch of Ick.

  16. oh! i am so with you! my 2nd is almost 10 months old, too, and he babbles but won’t crawl. i can count on my two hands the number of times he’s rolled over… and i am trying so hard not to be nonchalant. i am so good at assuring other moms that all babies develop at their own paces, that “everybody learns to walk and talk eventually, after all!” but none of that works when i tell myself of course. thanks for keeping it real. 🙂

  17. Mine waited. And waited. And waited. i think she was about 14 months before she said anything more than mama and dada – but then it came in a flood, and around 18 months, she was pairing them, using plurals and possessives, and all sorts of crazy things. it was like she waited until she knew she could really do it.

  18. I could so chew on those cheeks. Second kids do things when they get around to it. They have siblings to do the rest. I swear my friends youngest (of four) didn’t walk until 17 months. She didn’t need to, she had sisters to hand her every dang thing she wanted. Sage will talk, try not to worry. Just remember, when they start to talk, they never stop. And as a second kid, she’ll be louder…just to make sure she’s heard.

  19. It’s common for the younger one to let the big sister do the talking. Also one of the anonymouses is full of it. Muh muh muh, because it’s a bilabial is typically one of the first sounds a baby makes, hence mama universally being a common first word. The P sound is a bilabial plosive which is why papa is pretty much a cultural universal as well. These are typically the things babies first say. If not, they’re retarded. It’s in the google.

  20. My first word wasn’t until 15 months, but then it was, “Where’s the little dog”. My older brother’s first word was “Light” at 8 months. My mom thought I was retarded. I’m not. 🙂

  21. Hope I’m not pestering you… I left a comment at League of Maternal Justice as well…Thought you might be interested to know that a bill to reform the CPSC (S. 2663) will be on the Senate floor today and tomorrow. (There was a cloture vote yesterday.) You can look up the text of the legislation and get a summary via http://thomas.loc.govBasically, the bill would authorize add’l funds for the CPSC ($88.5m in FY2009; $155.9m by 2015), increase their workforce from 420 to 500, increase fines for violations from $5,000 to $250,000, increase criminal penalties, and would require that toys be manufactured according to ASTM safety standards. If you have any readers in SC or OK, they might be interested to know that Sen. DeMint and Sen. Coburn are opposing the bill over the whistleblower provisons, provision of corporate information, and increases for state power to enforce product safety rules. I think the bill will pass by a wide margin given yesterday’s cloture vote (86-1) but the Bush administration said it has serious concerns about the legislation — no veto threat yet. Might be a good time to call your senators and the WH.

  22. “Bilabial” Now, there’s a word. Or, the focus of a marketing campaign – For bilabial freshness!Back to the issue at hand: You’ll regret that either one of them began speaking when they start to bicker over clothes. Doubtless you’ll holler – SHUT YOUR BILABIALS, BOTH OF YOU!

  23. Yippee!And you know, I just read in a baby book that I reviewed that any sound she makes that obviously means something to her (like ba ba for bottle) counts as a word. That relieved me with Bruiser, who says Ma ma and Da da and Ba ba at the appropriate times, but has yet to say something like “cat” or “ball.”Um. Just thought I’d share that. 🙂

  24. Maybe Sage will get her tattoo first? I love your stories about this pediatrician, because I can’t imagine you being less than confident about anything.

  25. I have been *not obsessing at ALL* about my girl’s affinity for only vowels…lots of aiyyaaaahhhh over here too.We’re clapping for Sage! Plus, that little face? Yummo.

  26. Came across your blog recently. Really enjoy the way you write…Lovely picture of your girl. My son was born Aug 05 (just saw your first was born July 05) and my second on is 9m old. Funny thing is I don’t even remember when my son started speaking words…now I will remember to note it for my second child! (She started saying Dada and thatha may be 3m back but that’s it – no mammma or any other word…just random babbling…with my son mamma was clearly his first word!

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