It feels as though my little one has had an upgrade this month. For a long time, he’s been saying a few words (more, uh-oh, bat-bat for bath) but he hasn’t shown any sign of moving on from those. I know you shouldn’t compare but his sister was much more talkative at the same age and although I know his understanding is coming along in leaps and bounds, I have wondered if he was ever going to move on from ‘More!”. And in the last ten days, I realised that he hasn’t just been resting on his laurels. Because last week, he revealed his top secret project: animal noises.
Far from learning dull and mundane words, he’s been absorbing the noises animals make. I discovered this on the 3456th reading of Old MacDonald’s Farm, when I turned to the page with a picture of a pig, and the baby let out a snort. Then when we got to the cow, he mooed. And at the sheep he said, “Baaaa!” At the last count, he can imitate twelve animals and adds to the list every day. So should I be worried that he doesn’t really speak yet?
The answer is no, of course. Language develops differently for each child and the fact that he’s picking the animal noises up tells me that he’s getting the idea of communication. So what if the development charts tell me he should have twenty to thirty words by now? The fact that he can tell me what noise a donkey makes (heeee-hawwwww) and has learned it all on his own, cancels that out. I guess what I’m getting at here is that developmental expectations are guidelines, not rules, so as long as you’re happy with the progress your child is making, there’s no need to worry about what the books, or other parents, say they should be doing. If he’s still talking to me via the medium of monkey sounds in two years time, then I’ll worry.