A baby’s first word seems such a big milestone. Many adults I know tell the tale of their first word as told to them by their parents. Baby albums have spaces to record the first words uttered. When my baby was little we often pondered what her first word might be. So it’s not surprising that I was expecting a bit more of a revelationary moment. The reality, whilst still magical, was a bit more muddled.
If asked I’d probably say her first word was uh-oh or hiya. She started saying both a while ago, but at first they were sporadic. Was that a word or just babbling sounds? It seemed to be in context, she said uh-oh when she dropped something, but the next time the same thing was dropped we said uh-oh and there was no response back. At other times she would be saying it randomly all the time. After a few weeks they became a bit more consistent and regular so I can now say she is saying them, but only with hindsight. There was no eureka moment, and I couldn’t tell you which came first.
There were lots of others words babbled around the same time that might have been candidates for first words. In amongst the stream of jibber jabber we thought we heard Night Night or Dada or Mama. Our eyes would meet and eyebrows raise. We would whisper in wonder – did she just say? But it’s so hard to tell what’s a word and what’s just her practicing random sounds.
We have a field of sheep near home and I often say baa as we go past. We also often read Baa Baa Black Sheep, so last week when we looking at a book of animals and she said baa at the sheep picture I was so proud. Until I turned the page and she said baa at the cow, and the horse and the pig. So she probably thinks baa is the word for all animals, which isn’t quite the same, or she just likes that sound.
People often ask me if she is talking yet, and I’m not sure what to answer. She says one or two words, and possibly understands them, but that’s mixed in with blowing raspberries and nonsense, so she’s not exactly talking. I tend to say we think she’s almost talking.
Children have their first words at different times. There were people on online forums saying their baby said Dada at 4 months (I’m not fully convinced that wasn’t them just burping but I’m open to all possibilities). I’ve also heard of children who talked very late and had their parents worried, but were very talkative once started. Others need a bit more help to communicate. Every child is different and every parent is different and counts when the first words were spoken differently. It isn’t a clear cut distinction between babbling and words. So comparing when a child says their first words isn’t helpful.
For now I like the little streams of nonsense. It’s so cute watching her chatter away to herself. A typical conversation goes ablablablablaaa thrpppppp ablabla oh do oh ablablabla. It might not happen like I expected but it is still magical trying to spot the real words and work out if they are actual words.
I don’t want to create a mythical story of first words, to fit the conventional perception of how it happens, if it’s not the truth, as that doesn’t help other first time mums who are worried about whether their child is starting to talk like expected. I want to be honest about it being confusing and not clear cut.
So next time someone asks me what her first words were, I’ll be honest and say I’m not really sure what or when they were.
What do you think? Is my experience typical, or did your baby have a clear cut first word?
This post is participating in…