Forest has been working on language all his life, I guess. We were just remembering how he was “talking” (babbling really) at three months old for awhile. I forget how long–maybe a month or so, and then he mostly stopped talking for several months and started again at around 10-11 months. Please correct me if I’m wrong, Donald! He must have been so busy working on some physical development milestones that his language acquisition work went into the background for awhile.
A few weeks ago, around April 1, 2012, I wrote down some of the things he was saying: Forest loves fruit and screams and “talks” until he gets it when he sees us cutting it. So funny. Forest says mamamamamama, adadadadada, ayayayayayaya, alalaalalalala, ababababobovovu, and variations on all of those. He has said “mommy” just a few times when he really wanted me, and he used to say “emmy” when he was maybe 6-8 months old (maybe even younger?), occasionally, when he wanted me. Then, he began using “em” for milk or bottle as well. Later, “em” extended to any food item he really wanted. Now, at 14 months, his own word, “em,” is still used to refer to me, milk, food, or water sometimes as the situation requires.
I love talking back to him in his “language.” He will hold an extended conversation, and seems to respond better if you try to use his words. Sometimes I can distract him from fussing by engaging him in this sort of a babbling conversation.
Forest clearly understands many, many words in English. There are so many things that we ask him, which he can answer in some nonverbal manner. When I ask him, “which book would you like to read,” while holding up two books, Forest will select a book by hitting it and making an excited noise. When we ask him if he would like a certain type of especially yummy food, such as fruit, he signals his affirmative response with a sharp intake of air. Silence in this case would indicate “no.”
Often, he communicates what he wants with gestures and sounds. Lately, he has been asking to nurse during the day by walking over to the couch where we usually sit, hitting the nursing pillow, and making an emphatic, excited noise.
Forest has very recently–a few days ago– started giving hugs. He used to indicate his affection or joy at seeing a parent, a cat, or a stuffed animal by reaching out for it with his hands and burrowing his face into it. This earlier form of hugging seems to me to be an extension of the “rooting” response newborns have in searching for the nipple. He often still burrows into my breast in that manner. This new form of hugging seems to be a new social communication skill he has learned. He smiles, puts his arms around my neck, and pulls himself toward me to put his face next to my face or neck. It’s very, very sweet, and it just melts my heart every time he does it.