I am no baby expert. That has been made abundantly clear. I do, however, have a baby. BUT— if what Dr. B tells me is true, all babies develop at their own pace and with their own personal agenda. Therefore, I am caveating this post with the fact that the following information is both limited by my lack of knowledge in speech pathology and my test group of my one and only child.
Nevertheless, I present…
THE SEVEN STAGES OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
STAGE I: FOR THE LOVE OF ELMO
With the exception of Mazzy's first word (which was HI), her next few words all reflected the greatest loves of her short life. Her second word was BOO, which is her blankie (so named because we use the blankie to play peek-a-boo) and it is of utmost importance as it is on Mazzy's person at almost all times.
Her next word was DADA. Obviously. Mazzy said DADA for months and months before she even attempted MAMA. You can read written documentation of the torture here. And I have also put together the following video entitled "The Baby Hates Me" to serve as visual evidence:
Soon after DADA and BOO and well before MAMA, and without ever seeing a lick of Seasame Street— Mazzy mastered ELMO. This, as you might imagine, was both impressive and maddening. Here's what happened— Grammy came over one day with a book about Elmo going to the potty. I believe it possesses the brilliantly creative title of "Elmo Goes To The Potty". It took Mazzy all of a half hour before she knew that furry red little muppet on a first name basis. And in one day, ELMO surpassed myself in levels of importance and reached the previously untouchable ranks of DADA and BOO.
To this day, there is no ELMO that goes unnoticed or unnanounced, including the nickel-sized Elmo sticker stuck on a wall visible only through the crack of a doorway at our pediatrician's office.
STAGE II: THE SURVIVAL KIT
Once Mazzy got beyond the three loves of her life, she moved onto basic survival skills. This included BABA (bottle), BA-BA (pacifier— only a mother would notice the slight pause between the two syllables that separated it from bottle) and NANA (banana). After these three basic needs, came secondary necessities. Words like BOOK, BALL, and BABY (most often used to refer to herself in the mirror). The word iPAD showed up in this stage as well. I fault my husband for that one. I am convinced that he fed it to her because he thought it would be hilarious if she said iPAD before MAMA. I should tell you that my husband doesn't fully understand the word "hilarious" and regularly confuses it with the phrase "heinous act committed against thy wife".
STAGE III: IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME
At about a year, Mazzy finally said the word MAMA. She said it while we were skyping with her while on vacation which was wonderful and heartbreaking all at once. Since then, MAMA has become her most frequently used word. It is adorable and endearing. But I am told that at some point it will feel like this:
STAGE IV: THE HUMAN SPONGE
At first, Mazzy was just saying words that we were actively teaching her. Names of animals and their sounds. Names for her toys and different foods. Things we saw on the street like trees and cars. But then she started busting out random words that we had never tried to teach her. Words that were much more complicated like TISSUE, DOCTOR, and KNAPSACK. This is the moment where we realized we had to stop any sort of swearing whatsoever. FUCK.
STAGE V: THE BROKEN ROBOT
This stage started about a month ago. Mazzy now has quite a few words in her vocabulary. And when the moment strikes, she likes to name them in quick succession. She lines up toys on the coffee table and rattles off the names, she picks up books and flips through the pages as she shouts out the items pictured, and she practices her words for body parts by pointing to her nose, her feet and her belly.
But since so many things are entering her brain at once and she often picks up speed as she goes, at some point, she begins to mix all her words and gestures up and get them all wrong. She'll point to a BOOK and say NOSE and then point to her EAR and say MOO and then point to a BLOCK and say AVOCADO until she starts to resemble Rosey from The Jetsons having a meltdown. Or Vicky from Small Wonder after Jamie has spilled water down her back. Or C3PO in that scene from Star Wars (I have now tapped all my Star Wars knowledge with that reference).
STAGE VI: THE SNUFFALUFFAGUS CONUNDRUM
Nowadays, it seems like everybody is fully aware of the existence of Snuffaluffagus. But back when I was a kid, everybody thought he was Big Bird's imaginary friend. I wanted so badly for the rest of the gang to know Big Bird wasn't making Snuffy up. And it was always so close! Snuffaluffagus would have to go home to brush his teeth or something and then two seconds later Maria and Gordon would show up and be all like "Big Bird is such a liar!" It was EXCRUTIATING. This is how I feel now when I try to bring out my GENIUS BABY in front of friends. Mazzy clams up and acts all REGULAR BABY on me. And then everybody is nodding, like mmhmm, just another crazy mommy who thinks her kid is so freakin' special. Which is ridiculous. I don't think that at all!!! Which brings me to the final stage…
STAGE VII: THE HARVARD DEBATE TEAM
Mazzy hasn't reached this phase yet but I am certain it is right around the corner. There's a small possibility that I am wrong. Could be THE YALE DRAMA CLUB, I guess.
Since this post is obviously of no real help or value, I thought I might offer you a resource if you have any actual questions or concerns about your child's language development. It is a site called Your Child Talking run by my blogging friend, Lori, a certified speech pathologist. I am sure you will find it more than helpful.