Look Who’s (Sort Of) Talking: Toddler L’s First Words

I’m afraid to say that this post isn’t announcing the much anticipated fourth instalment of the Look Who’s Talking film series staring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley – although it would be pretty awesome if Toddler L had Bruce Willis’ voice.

Instead, this is about toddler communication. The last month has seen a now 16-month old Toddler L develop massively. In addition to preferring to walk than crawl – which secured her graduation from baby to toddler in my book – her communication skills are coming on really well. She’s not quite at the point of being able to recite poetry or deliver a PowerPoint presentation, but it feels like her verbal and nonverbal communication skills grow more impressive by the day.

At the time of writing, she’s uttered three different words which we can definitely say are words. This is because it has been said within context and on more than one occasion. For me, these two points are important – a baby begins to make “dada”, “mama” and other noises quite early on, but without meaning and repetition, I’ve been reluctant to class these as actual words – although I know a few competitive parents do in the game of ‘one-upmanship’!

Toddler L’s first word was “gone”. We noticed that she started saying this when she didn’t have much food left, so for instance, if there were only a few spoonfuls of Weetabix left in the bowl at breakfast. We kind of ignored it for a little while because it felt like a random word for her to pick up on – it’s not like Hay or I say it all of the time.

Trying to get Toddler L to say “gone” (her first word) on video. Funny child 🙂

A video posted by The DADventurer (Dave) (@the_dadventurer) on

Since then though, everything is “gone”. When someone leaves a room, when something is put into the bin, when a toy is put away, when I steal the TV remote off her etc – these are all situations which are met with this absent-meaning word and a comical upturn of her hand.

Her second word was “ticker ticker”, which ‘obviously’ means “tickle tickle”. She says this when she either lifts up her own, or mine / Hay’s, clothes and moves both hands in a tickling fashion. Her third word has been – and I can only blame myself for this – “dip dip”. I’m a big fan of Ketchup and tend to have it with most meals because I’m a big, loveable kid at heart. One day, when she wasn’t eating her sandwich, I gave it a quick dip in the tomato sauce on my plate with an accompanying “dip dip”, which she loved and began repeating almost instantly.

There’s also a few words that haven’t quite graduated into her official vocabulary yet, although they may do quite soon. Although quite sinister, she’s just started saying something that sounds like “die die” as she waves – I think this means “bye bye” rather than her plotting my impending demise, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. She’s also just picked up on the concept of ducks as we walk by the canal, but I don’t know whether her “daq” noise means “duck” or “quack” – at the moment it’s just a weird hybrid!

Although all of this is very cool, it’s her listening and understanding that amazes me. Obviously babies and toddlers can understand more words than they can actually speak, which is why it’s important to talk to them. Recently, we’ve noticed that she’ll do things in response to a question or statement. So, for example, if we say “can you touch your nose?”, she does so straight away, if we say “where’s the doggy?”, she points to him, and if we say “time for bed”, she’ll make her own way over to the stair gate.

toddler pointing as communication no words

Despite being able to say a few things, comprehend some of the stuff we’re talking about and use her index finger to point to what she wants, it feels like their is an undercurrent of frustration bubbling. As she’s not able to tell us exactly what she wants and doesn’t quite understand our logic and decisions, we’re finding that tears and tantrums are becoming more common.

For instance, she’s developed a really cute – but annoying – habit of pointing to her mouth and making a chomping noise to indicate that she’s hungry. This is great as it tells me what she wants, but if I try to explain that tea is cooking and isn’t quite ready yet or that she can’t eat more leftover gingerbread from Christmas, we soon have waterworks – and that’s not just from me!

Still, the past month or so has been massively exciting as Toddler L turns into a proper little girl right before my eyes. Every day seems to bring a new thing – be it a sound, an action or a behaviour – and I can’t wait to see what the next week, month and year brings in terms of her – and my – development.

What were your kids first words? How did you find their verbal and nonverbal communication skills developed? Which was your favourite Looks Who’s Talking film? Let me know below!

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