Because I know you’ll just tell me not to worry…

So I’ve been wanting to post about this for a while. But I’m almost embarrassed to. Why, you ask? Because you will all tell me to relax, she’s just fine, she’s only 13 months old, she’s a bi-lingual baby for crying-out-loud, yada yada yada.

But since the entire world’s blogging about how verbal their babies are, well, um, I just wanted to share how verbal ours isn’t.

There. you can all go laugh at me now, and lovingly tell me not to worry, etc. etc. etc. But if I am true to myself, then this blog is a place of expression and a vent for me to release my anxiety, so that it doesn’t linger within me. So even though my intellect KNOWS that all is well in Malka Palka Pooka Palka land, I mean heck, her canines are coming in, she’s walking ALL over the place, climbing, and doing everything babies that are 13 months old SHOULD be doing. Except using words. She will repeat ba ba and she’ll string consonants and vowels together – like baba dada ah! ah! gaga, and a few “words” that sound like doggy and eemah, but we aren’t convinced that she actually knows what she’s saying.

She CAN point to my “peh” (mouth), and my “af” (nose), and her “ozen” (ears), and she understands that when we are walking down the hall, and I say, let’s go have a bath, she’ll walk to the bathroom, and not her bedroom; she’ll go to her high chair in the morning when I tell her it’s time for her waffle, and she’ll have a “conversation” with me, but it’s all in “Malka-ese.”

There are no concrete words yet. I KNOW our child is perfect and fabulous just the way she is, and I understand that babies that are being brought up to be bi-lingual have language delays, and I’m OK with that. Really I am.

I guess I’m just sharing my “worried Eemah” moment with you, is all.

22 thoughts on “Because I know you’ll just tell me not to worry…

  1. Shelli, what you are feeling is totally normal. We all worry about our children – especially when he/she is not doing what others his/her age is doing. You can contact Early Intervention for an evaluation to determine if she might need speech therapy. It doesn’t hurt to get her evaluated and it will help put your mind at ease a little. Please remember though that all children have their own learning milestone and every child is different. I learned that one when Brandon was born (how different he is from Peter). Keep us posted.

  2. You don’t have much to worry about, Shelli. Once she does start talking, you won’t be able to shut her up!!

    Friends of mine who’ve raised their children to be biligual told me about that language delay thing, and they’ve had no problems otherwise.

    Anyhow, don’t worry about it. She’s not even 2 yet. She understands language, and when she’s ready to talk, she will!

  3. Natalie’s “words” are a lot like what you describe for Malka. She says hi pretty clearly, but the other ones we had to question a few times before we decided that “booo” meant book or “at” meant cat. Even if Malka doesn’t have any words, she’s totally fine, but those ones that you’re not sure about could actually be words.

  4. Worrying about our kids is absolutely normal, so I’m not trying to tell you not to worry. Helen is just now starting to use a lot of words, and she is exactly 7 months older than Malka (although you’d never know it by how much sooner Malka has done most things!). But Helen’s talking seems early to us, since her brother didn’t say much until much later. It’s all relative I guess. I also think that there is kind of an unrealistic expectation out there on when kids should talk since some start saying words so early. I think most don’t have a lot of words until 18 months or so.

  5. I have to agree with everyone else, worrying is what mommies do! I practically throw up when one of the boys gets a bad boo boo! My guys really don’t “talk.” They have a few words, but it’s not the Gettysburg Address to be sure. If you really do get very concerned, then do what Amy and I did and have her evaluated. It might give you more peace of mind. Also, talk to her teachers about what she “should” be doing (although Malka-ese is about that). She is so lucky to have you (and Narda, too)!!!

  6. our nephew didn’t have a lot of words until he was 2+. i admit i was slightly concerned–not in a ‘OMG, what’s what with him’ kind of way, but more in a ‘file in the back of my head’ way. then it was as if a switch was turned on, and for the love of cheese, he began picking up language like there was no tomorrow. he’s 4 now, and sometimes it’s hard to shut him up. he even talks to me, and interacts with me, on the phone. and he has an amazing verbal memory now–it’s really scary. he recites entire scenes from favorite movies…

    so i guess i’m saying is 1.) i really totally understand your worry–i think having a bunch of kids for comparison is one of the harder things with having our wonderful blogosphere, and 2.) mp3 will most likely surprise you soon with her words, and then you will snort when you come back and read this post. *hugs*

  7. Do you mind if I ask what language other than English MP3 is being raised with? (Sorry, I’m a relative newcomer here.)

    Not that it matters even one tiny BIT which languages she’s hearing, I’m just curious.

    I’ve got four kids, a stepkid and a grandkid, Shelli. Here’s what I think I know:

    My son Moose turned 20 years old in October. He started speaking in complete sentences three weeks ago. His first complete sentence came in the form of a question. He asked, “Do you think my hair is long enough, yet, for dreadlocks?”

    I was so pleased for him. So pleased.

    In contrast, his older sister, at age four, lamented her sparse vocabulary with, “I’m sorry, Grandma. I don’t have words for that yet.”

    Point being: they all end up in freshman comp at some point, at which time we worry over their capacity to identify and repair comma splices, because it is our duty to worry.

    MP3 is fine.

    My second to last kid, now 13, didn’t walk until after 15 months of age. My mother claimed that late walking meant poor reading and writing skills in the future. Whatever: she has a 3.75 grade point average and plays first chair clarinet. My mother can bite me.

    (I love my mother; she lets me tell her when she needs to bite me.)

    MP3 is fine. She is better than fine. I know this because she has two parents who love her dearly and worry about every step of her journey.

    You will find that many parents turn their children into little pawns of parenting competition — if you don’t believe me, just wait for potty training. It’s not right; it’s not fair; it doesn’t make our jobs easier.

    Remain perceptive and receptive to whatever MP3 is ready to learn next, and guide her through without needing anything from her, without doing the work for her. If you do this, she will bring you and herself so much joy that you will not be able to contain yourselves.


    She’s better than fine.

  8. I understand your worry- I didnt think my youngest (now 4) was ever going to talk. He’s walked and chatted in his own little language and knew what and where everything was, but i was for sure that his 9th grade teacher would be the one teaching him his ABC’s.

    She’ll talk eventually, if even in 9th grade. lol

  9. *puts on child psychologist hat*

    She is completely on schedule. Please stop worrying.

    Vocalization averages from my child development text:
    First simple word 10-14 months (Malka has done this if she says eemah even if you are not completely certain that she is referring to you when she says it.)
    Has around a 5 word vocabulary 15-19 months

    The language delays seen in children who are bilingual are usually actually not seen until later on around 2-3 years of age (or later) because it is the putting together of sentences and that sort of thing in two separate languages that is confusing and probably causes bilingual children to appear to have a delay when really they just have more work to do than a child who is learning just one language.

    Make sense? If not, EMAIL ME, seriously. πŸ™‚

  10. For what it is worth I didn’t speak until around 16 months – that was also when I started walking. I must have been a huge pain in the ass.


  11. I’m pretty sure that worry fills the number three spot on the Mommy job description, right behind love and protect. I can tell you that C didn’t start using words (well, words I could understand) until close to 2. Might be because he had a brother who adored him so all he had to do was point and someone would fetch. I think perhaps the only reason he did start talking was to drive crazy the brother who wanted me to “take him back to wherever he came from.”

  12. Dylan’s 18 months old and still doesn’t have much in the way of understandable words. Bye bye, ball, hi and dada. He signs like a champ but words – not so much. He babbles a lot and according to the pediatrician “he’s talking – you just don’t understand him yet”.

    I don’t think it would bother me as much if I could just hear Mama.

  13. I wont tell you not to worry, because you’re still going to. (I would too) I’ll share my experience with my kids though…who were slow-ish with speaking and arent even bilingual.

    Kevin was slow to talk. His doctor said it was probably because he had a lot of ear infections and maybe didnt hear quite as clearly until he got tubes and the infections cleared up.

    Eliza was slow to talk. Like Malka she understood, so I tried not to worry. Especially since she was my 2nd child and I knew that once Kevin started talking he never stopped.

    Eliza is now picking up words and saying sentences like crazy. She says things that amaze me. Even with her being my 2nd…even with knowing I shouldnt worry…I still did.

    Malka will be fine. You know she’s hearing. You know she’s understanding. She’ll start picking words up one day and then there will be something else to worry about. Like, will she repeat the occasional bad words that come out of her mommies mouths. Or, is that just at our house? LOL

  14. I get the worrying. BELIEVE me, I get it.
    As you know, I have twins. It stuns me how different their development is. Picchi says about 10 words that I can decipher, and I think there are many more words he says that I can’t. Pacchi, on the other hand, doesn’t say many words at all (sometimes Dada, sometimes shoe… that’s all I know), but like MP3, he *does* have his own language. He holds whole conversations with me, with gestures and all. It is the funniest thing ever. He can actually make many more consonant sounds more clearly than Picchi, but he doesn’t use them to say words. It’s interesting. Ont he other hand, Pacchi is a great walker, and Picchi is not walking independently yet. And I do worry, but I think he’ll get it and am open to getting him evaluated if my ped suggests it at his 15 mo. appointment. The point is, yes we worry, and we *do* need to stay on top of things. But as long as there is steady progress, probably everything is fine.
    My sister is a very good speech language pathologist who often evaluates babies. If you have any specific questions for her, I’d be happy to pass them on. In my very unqualified opinion, however, Malka sounds just fine. If you are still concerned, your ped could probably refer you to someone for an evaluation. Take care!
    ps- NEITHER of my boys says Mama yet. Go figure.

  15. My niece and nephew are bilingual english/japanese and they both have had a similair history as your little girl. Also, this is my area of expertise! This is what I am studying in grad school now! First, as you said, she is processesing 2 langauges, so milestones will be not on the same timetable as a child who is learning one. Also, her listening skills are dev. first. so she understands a lot more than you think. This will turn into reciprocated language soon. And soon she will hit her very own “language explosion”.

  16. Shelli, I know exactly how you are feeling. I was really concerned about Alexander’s lack of words too, especially since Lauren is barely verbal and autistic. However, at about 17-18 months I started to notice (or understand) more of the words that he was saying. Now, at 22 months he sings, he talks, he tattles on Lauren when she’s doing things she shouldn’t πŸ˜‰

    I say give it a bit more time. She sounds like she’s right on developmentally.

  17. Ditto to what everyone has said–It’s totally normal to worry about these things. For what it’s worth, Evelyn, who is 2 days older than MP3, only says “All done” and “Buh-bye” on random occasions and with LOTS of prompting. The other 98% of the language we hear is beautiful babbling.

    One thing we’ve done with both kids is to use some sign language for words such as “all done,” “more” and “poop.” It’s a lot easier for many toddlers to manipulate their hands than to form words.

    Be sure to print a copy of this blog entry. One day when she’s running her mouth constantly and asking a bazillion questions, you’ll enjoy a little chuckle thinking back to this moment. πŸ™‚

  18. you so don’t need to worry about this, (and I know you aren’t worried) my bilingual kids got off to a slow start and now THEY WON’T SHUT UP!

  19. Oh, my niece is monolingual and I don’t recall her saying much at 13 months. “Doe” for Joe the cat, two things that meant our names but were hard to distinguish from one another, or from babbling in general, and her favorite…”guh,” said frequently and in varying intonations to mean everything. But, like Malka, she understood lots of stuff and proved it by bringing you her shoes when you asked, going for the high chair when you said anything about food, etc.
    And she is now the most verbal 2.5 year old I’ve known, speaking more clearly than her 5 year old sister and with nearly as large a vocabulary. When we asked her yesterday why she says “Why?” all the time, she said, “because I like to learn.”

  20. Hi Shelli,

    I think our babies may be saying more things than we think, we just can’t understand what the heck they’re talking about! LOL. My boy twin (Michael) started saying “Al Pachin” at 13 months and I had no idea what that meant (Al Pacino??). Then after a month I realized he may be trying to say “Applet Juice” all this time…. maybe.. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part LOL. Considering how well Malka understands, I’d say she’s saying more things than you can recognize! πŸ™‚

  21. I have to take my hat off to you for speaking both languages to Malka. Good work. I speak Spanish and don’t speak to my daughter nearly enough in Spanish, it’s mostly English since that’s my comfort zone.
    Even if they show up a little later, two languages instead of one… what a gift!

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