When Mazzy was a baby, she talked really early. (I know, I know, I compare everything Harlow does to Mazzy. Is that bad?) Mazzy talked so early that I couldn't even write about it on my blog because the one time I mentioned it, people with babies the same age got all freaked out that something was wrong with their less verbal offspring.
The response made me keep quiet about Mazzy's quickly developing vocabulary so I don't even have a real record of it on the blog, but I distinctly remember reading that by the end of the first year, most babies can say three to five words and thinking, "HOLY CRAP! Mazzy has over a hundred!"
I used to joke around about Mazzy being a genius, but if you want to know the truth, I totally believed it.
Now, I realize everyone catches up.
It's a slow fall back down to reality when you realize your two-year-old might not build the next Facebook, like you always imagined.
Harlow, on the other hand, at 14 months, speaks only one word.
That's another difference. Mazzy spoke every word under the sun before she humored me with her first "Mama". "Hi" was Mazzy's first word, "Boo" was her second and "Dada" was her third. Then I got shafted by "ball", "banana" and "iPad". If I remember correctly, Mazzy started stringing words together like "Bye Bye Daddy" and "I love you Yaya" (that's her Aunt) before she uttered her first proper "Mama".
Harlow says "Mama" until she is blue in the face.
"Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Please imagine that last "Mama" is said in a screech so damaging to the ears, you think there might have been a car accident outside.
There's probably a "Mama" that follows the screeching but only dogs can hear it.
Sadly, since "mama" is Harlow's only word, she uses it for everyone. Me, Daddy, Mazzy and basically anyone with the ability to pick her up so her precious feet never have to touch the ground. GOD FORBID.
In lieu of words, Harlow has orchestrated a series of grunts, shrieks and vigorous head shakes.
I have never met anyone who can say "no" quite as clearly as Harlow, without ever saying a word. She doesn't just shake her head, she shakes her whole body in adamant defiance. Harlow's so good at saying "no", I should probably use her as my muse for contract negotiations.
"We'd like you to write a post for us in exchange for this can of corn."
"Alright two cans of corn."
Shakes head harder.
"Alright, you can have free canned vegetables for a month."
"Free canned vegetables for a year."
"Free canned vegetables for life."
"Okay, fine. We'll pay you."
This is actually exactly how Harlow operates. She's got me and her dad wrapped around her little finger. She'll point in the general direction of the kitchen counter, which is my cue to wander over there to figure out what she wants.
I'll pick up the bananas.
I'll pick up the plastic container of tomatoes.
Shakes head harder.
I'll pick up the loaf of bread.
I'll pick up the cup of water.
I'll pick up the pad of paper.
Uh-oh. The only things left are a steaming hot cup of coffee, a bottle of wine and a kitchen knife.
Just for fun, I'll pick up the cup of coffee.
Harlow's eyes will go wide and she'll reach for that thing like it's the key to Baby Kingdom.
"Sorry, Harlow. I can't give this to you."
I don't know how she's determined that a cup of coffee is the only thing that will satisfy her appetite. I've tried to trick her with a mug full of milk, and she gives a head shake which translates roughly to "Mom, do you think I'm stupid???"
I guess that's the point. Harlow can't say any words just yet but it's clear that it's not because she's stupid. She's just as opinionated as Mazzy at that age, if not more so. And, if I'm honest, shrieking is a lot more effective than asking for the kitchen knife with words.
Harlow's shrieks have convinced us to let her keep the newborn pacifier, instead of switching to the one she's supposed to use to accommodate her brand new teeth.
Harlow's shrieks have convinced us to put off transitioning from a bottle to a cup.
Harlow's shrieks have convinced us to let her wander around the apartment chomping on a bagel instead of forcing her to eat at the table like everybody else.
Hmmmm. Maybe Harlow is the one who's going to create the next Facebook.
Watch out, Mazzy. There's a new genius in town.
Harlow sounds like my little one when he was that age! He was saying Mama before he could walk (Dada came many, many months later) and used gestures and grunts for the longest time! It was so effective, why bother speaking?! He did have words here and there, but he was mainly the silent observer until almost 3yrs (yes, for those who read comments, he was observed by drs and therapists to ensure there were no development issues). A few months before turning 3yrs, he became a chatter box (there is no off switch) and he is speaking with more grand words and more clarity than the other kids who have been speaking for a year or two more than him! So, ya… watch out Mazzy, Harlow is moving up! 😉
Just curious, is your pediatrician concerned that she is only saying one word? My son is like Mazzy was, he is 22 months old and has been speaking in sentences for months now.
But obviously she knows how to get her point across.
No, she’s not concerned. She said that sometimes a pacifier can impede their desire to talk so I could try taking it away. I am working to use it less frequently and just threw away all the newborn pacifiers so she’ll have to use the ones meant for babies with teeth, but I’m not ready to take it away entirely yet.
If Harlow was my first, I might be more concerned but I know tons of kids who spoke late and caught up to Mazzy really fast. Some kids talk every time they learn a new word and some kids wait until they can actually make a sentence. I think Harlow will be fine.
Yes, yes, yes to all of this. My first knew her entire alphabet and was singing songs by 14 months, my second said maybe four or five words for most of her second year of life. She is smart and conniving and rules our house completely. She gets away with nearly everything, had the pacifier a whole 6 months longer than her older sister and gets mostly whatever she wants. I fear I may have created a monster just to keep her from yelling at me.
Go Harlow! My son is almost 2 1/2 and is just now using words but MAN is he an impressive communicator with gestures and sounds. Our ped isn’t worried either – every kid is so different and he clearly shows a desire to communicate, like Harlow. I love how amazingly unique each kid is!
Do you know when my first kid and second kid talked? Neither do I! At some point their coos changed to babble changed to sounds changed to words changed to sentences. Sure in some cases there are legitimate issues to worry about, but by and large it is nothing more than normal deviations along the bell curve of life. Rest assured at some point we all reach the “Could you PLEASE for five minutes, stop talking??” phase! 😉
For me, it was the same with reading. I was surprised my first kid seemed slower on the reading spectrum, as we read to her a lot and she was very bright. But I didn’t sweat it, as know it is a code that once broken opens up that world. I never pushed her but let her develop at her own pace, and whaddaya know – by grade four suddenly her interest, enthusiasm and ability exploded and the kid now regularly totes 500+ page novels to and from school. Maybe she just needed something that actually interested her to want to read – maybe Harlow is waiting until she has something really significant to say then will break out a fully formed sentence.
Also, not always but usually, kids who are advanced in speech are slower in physical ability (such as walking) and vice versa. So since Harlow seems so physically advanced I am not surprised speech is slower in appearance.
My guess is that the reason Harlow doesn’t have a larger vocabulary is that she has an older sibling. My mother always told me that I delayed my siblings vocabulary development because all they had to do was grunt and point and I brought them what they wanted. Hence no need to talk.
Then I had kids of my own, and noticed this phenomenon first hand. My first child had an amazing and extensive vocabulary. The consecutive kids, ummm… not so much. I watched as they would point, or better yet grunt and point and the oldest would cater to their every whim. But as you mentioned above, the other children did catch up rather quickly once they decided to go for it.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Harlow is full on running at this point. She can climb up the coffee table and sit on top by herself. She can pull out a chair and sit on it just like the big kids. She’s clearly concentrating on the physical!
I’ve noticed this with a lot of second siblings too. They definitely seem much later in speech development. And Mazzy is always telling me what Harlow wants. “SHE WANTS THE PACIFIER, MOM!!!!!” Yeah, Mazzy, I KNOW.
Harlow and my 16-month-old sound identical – the only word he knows is “uh oh” (usually said after he’s thrown something off his high chair tray). He’s really got the grunts down, though, and lately has started a high pitched screech. I seriously can’t wait til he uses actual WORDS!
My 15 month old son says about 3 words clearly and with meaning right now: “NO”, “Daddy” and “Paw-Paw” (which is what we call Grandma). He babbles a lot of nonsense and points at things he wants too. The only baby sign language he picked up so far is “more” and “milk”. I’m still waiting for him to say Mommy with meaning.
I’ve always heard every baby has one thing they learn very quickly and one thing they learn very slowly. Crawling was the slow portion for my son. He never crawled. He scooted on his butt for means of transportation. But, he is incredible as puzzles. We got him his first 100 piece puzzle and he isn’t even 2. It’s crazy.
And no was one of the first words he learned. He’s JUST now starting to say yes and actually use it in context when I ask questions.
My son is 15 months and has a couple of words, but same, his sister who is now almost 3 was speaking earlier. It doesn’t concern me in the least because he knows EXACTLY what we are saying to him. Shakes his head yes or no (has actually started saying YA) and makes other various noises or grunts to lets us know what he needs or answers to our questions. Also, his sister talks back and is sassy so him not joining in is good while it lasts. On another note, my daughter used a soothie until she was 2 when the “paci princess” came and took it away. Her teeth were majorly bucked from it, but within a month of taking it away they were completely straight!
Also, the siblings have their own language…my daughter always knows exactly what her brother is saying even though it’s complete jibberish. Kind of creepy, but sweet.
My Max is almost 16 months and I started freaking out because he only said mama and dada and ale-short for Alex, his older brother, not beer. So I started reading to him constantly and talking to him and making lots of eye contact and announcing the name of every little thing he looked at. 3 days later he’s added bye bye and uh-oh and wo to his vocab. So I’m relaxing. He’ll be fine. I’ll enjoy the quiet for now. 🙂
My son is 15 months and the only thing he says is “uh oh.” (Surpisingly useful in a variety of situations.) I’m convinced he, too, is just biding his time. Good tip about the paci though- thanks!
My nephew (soon to be 3) wasn’t talking either. They brought in a speech therapist to work with him (recommended by his pediatrician). They taught us to pronounce the first letter of what he wanted and he had to repeat it before he was given said item. He wanted cheese? He had to repeat after us saying “ch”. It definitely worked. Can’t get him to be quiet now 🙂
This sounds EXACTLY like my 16 month old son, except substitute “Mama” for “Dada.” He says Dada for everything and my husband loves to gloat about it. But suddenly about 3 weeks ago he started picking up words like crazy. Now he has about 20 or 25. Unfortunately, the grunts, shrieks, pointing, and head shaking are still predominant.
My first born (now 2 1/2) was the same way as Mazzy and my one year old daughter is just like Harlow. My son’s first “real” word was “book.” Not only was I beaming with pride it also made communicating so much easier when he could talk. I’m curious if it has anything to do with birth order or just purely an individual characteristic? Either way, if you figure out how to stop the grunting and shrieking please let me know. 😉
My nephew (about 17 months) doesn’t say Momma, but says Dada and Opa (german for “grandpa”, which is what we have the kids call my dad).
I have a friend who was always saying how her brother didn’t say a world really until he was 3, and he just graduated law school, so yes, everyone goes at their own pace. As long as the pediatrician isn’t concerned, I’m not when it comes to milestones.
Although my 6 month old (No wait, she’s 7 months old today! When did that happen??) is now babbling “da da da da da”, so who knows!
My son has a pretty big speech delay and has been in speech therapy forever lol. One of the big things the therapists drill into me is to label everything. Make sure everything has a name. So when you are holding up the items in the kitchen be sure to say things like,”do you want a piece of bread?” “Here Harlow have some yogurt puffs.” Etc. Talk alot aroud her. It has really helped myson. He had no words at 18 months and now at 2 and a half has over 500 and is now finally saying mommy.
I think my daughter Lia (who is a few weeks older than Harlow) and Harlow may have been separated at birth. My 3 year old was speaking in sentences by 18 months and was and we were convinced she would be our ticket to fame. Not Lia. Lia only cares about running in circles eating her weight in crackers, climbing on top of tables, referring to everything as a “ball”, and having a nuclear meltdown if I am more than 3.5 cubic feet from her. What is with the 2nd child separation anxiety? My oldest Giuliana could have cared less if we were in the same country. I am certain that Lia is attempting to crawl back inside of me and stay there forever. However, she did recently add “uh oh” to her vocabulary, which she happily uses while throwing everything in her high chair on the floor….
My 1 year old has a couple of words, the first being “dada”, which is awesome for her cries in the middle of the night for “him” (like Harlow with “mama”, Noggin uses “dada” for everyone but I use it to my advantage in the middle of the night.) she is fully resistant to saying “mama” and I think she does it on person. I’ll try to get her to say it, she’ll look at me, smirk and say “dada”. Little hussy.
She’s also full on refusing to walk. She walks on her knees. You try to get her to stand up and she’ll immediately go limp and then fling herself on the floor in such dramatic fashion you’d think we tried to cut off a limb. Which, if we did, apparently wouldn’t matter because she is the master of walking on her knees. I think we’re going to have our hands full with this one…Sweets is for the most part pretty mild mannered. When she is having a tantrum she cries and won’t talk to you. Noggin looks around for anything and everything to throw across the room, just in case her rolling around and shrieking on the floor didn’t clue us in to the fact she is upset. GOod times.
My 21 month old can talk a blue streak but she didn’t walk at all until 18 months and is still very cautious about anything physical. She’s never climbed on anything ever. Her doctor said the same thing…when the brain becomes super focused on one part of development (in our case speech, in Harlow’s case being physical)another will take a back seat. He warned me not to think our girl is a genius, that all will catch up in time. Way to burst our bubble doc! 🙂
I agree completely! Why talk or do other things if you have someone else there to do it all for you! My kids are the exact same way, my 4 yr old had a huuuge vocabulary early on and my 19 mo old is fluent in Minion apparently. It must be an older sibling thing too, in giving their “helpful advice” in what the little ones are wanting, especially when you are trying to get a win in on something and not give in!
My second child’s first word was “this.”
He needed no other word! He could accomplish everything with pointing while saying “this.” He would point to my boobs when he wanted to nurse and say “this!”
He also changed the inflection and tone for the desired outcome. He didn’t start using other words until after 2 years old and has caught up quite nicely.
My first was just like Mazzy. She spoke so many words by the time she was a year old that people would be all concerned that she was so small for her age, thinking she was much older than she was.
My second was more like Harlow, but her personality is also completely different. While my first is a performer and loves to be the center of the universe, my second could care less as long as she’s doing what she wants. Like Harlow, she was also more physical. Plus, she seemed to wait until she was sure she could say something clearly.
Now the little one is almost three and DOES NOT SHUT UP. 🙂
Also, (and this is my last also, I swear) I think the first ones get so much attention and we spend so much time speaking each word carefully to them and obsessing over everything. The second gets less of that because not only have you been there done that, but you have way less time to obsess when you have another child to take care of.
Didn’t Harlow just turn one? I don’t think it’s weird at all for a child her age to only have one word. And I don’t think a reasonable pediatrician would show any serious concern about language until almost 18 months unless there’s no other attempts to communicate or a history of hearing issues like ear infections or other developmental delays. I do think the most recent kid-to-learn-to-talk affects our expectations. My 17-month-old has just a few words, still whines and cries a lot, and does seem to be on the later side of normal for developing language. But it doesn’t help that her older sister learned to talk more on the early side. It’s a spectrum, and we often talk about kids doing things “late” when they’re just on the later side of a normal range.
As for the whining, good luck! It’s something we definitely fight with our youngest right now!
My second is so much more defiant and opinionated than her big sister. If a ” Mamaaaaaaaaaa” doesn’t do the trick, she has started to do a good ” head throw back” maneuver, that really makes me consider wearing a mouth guard.
Thats super funny I am reading this now because my daughter (my first child) is a little combo of both your girls- she has limited words (daddy, uh oh, dog etc) but communicates SO much more with hand gestures, shaking her head yes or no, taking my hand and leading me to what she wants. She is 16 months old and I was a bit concerned about her talking but got told that she is in fact a very effective communicator and I do know she understands everything I say, as well as my parents who speak Hungarian to her. I have also been told being bilingual leads some children to talk later since they process two whole languages. In short, as long as they are trying to communicate with you in someway and you see they are understanding what your saying I dont think parents need to worry much. Also, my daughter has refused to the point of laughing at me when I ask, to say Mama. She used to now its just funny not to. ever.
It reaaally does hurt lol trying not to take it personally especially when she greets her father with “Daddy!!” every night!
Oh how this makes me laugh. My baby is a November girl, too….basically the same age as Harlow. She probably has like 10ish words, but she has got that shriek down. It can be used to communicate what she wants, anger when her brother takes something from her, disapproval with the weather, diaper changes, the high chair, milk that has not been delivered quick enough, and the list goes on and on and on and on. My friends and I have a theory that it’s a survival skill the 2nd child (and 3rd and 4th etc) develop as a result of having older siblings who may not be so inclined to share.
PS-Where did the HARLOW banner come from? It’s CUTE!!
So, both of my kids talked late. My oldest is four and half and was so late in talking that we had him evaluated multiple times. My second is now 21 months old and only used about 8-10 words. Our pediatrician isn’t concerned because he is advanced in other areas (he climbs and jumps and runs), but he is getting increasingly frustrated that he can’t communicate. So, we are about to have a speech evaluation done on him as well. I’m much more relaxed about it with him though. With my first, I lost sleep and wondered what was wrong with my child (it didn’t help that my niece who is nearly the same age was much like Mazzy and had a full vocabulary at the same time). My little Carson gets his point across, much like Harlow does. He points, grunts, shrieks until he gets what he wants. It’s very effective and much harder to say no to!
My 21 month old loves tea and coffee and has been at least attempting to steal sips since she could grab at my travel mug while nursing. Her first word was “boob”, by the way, and that’s what she calls me half the time.
Apparently kiddos develop language skills faster when they are late crawlers/walkers and such. Harlow was more into showing off her amazing physical abilities first. And I just went through 3 days of paci hell with my 15 month old. Only for the pediatrician to tell me it’s okay for them to still have it (they are orthodontically okay now days) and it’s “easier” to go paci-less when they are older. Needless to say we gave him the freaking paci back. Sorry if this is repeat info, I’m getting my hair done for the first time in months and don’t have time to read all the comments before my rinse cycle.
My bet is that Harlow is completely normal. My daughter didn’t say more than a couple of words until she passed 18 months. And no, she wasn’t working on walking or whatever (she also didn’t walk until 15 months lol). Now at age 3, she has a huge vocabulary and you couldn’t shut her up if you wanted to (which I don’t, because she says the funniest stuff!). She also runs and jumps with the best of them. I, like you, was a worried mom though when she turned 1 and only had like 1 word. My doctor and my own research told me that as long as she understood much of what was being said, she was fine. So if you are concerned, pay attention to how much Harlow understands. If she understands most of what you are saying (at an age-appropriate level), she’s doing just fine and will talk when she’s ready.
Like a lot of the other replies, this is my children too. One of my son’s first words was “triangle” (which he could identify at 10 months). My daughter (2nd child) is much further along physically than he was at this point (although his sensory processing disorder played a part, he was over three before TAKING OFF HIS OWN SOCKS, at 2 1/2 my daughter very efficiently – to my dismay – takes everything off on her own). I still don’t understand a lot of what she says, I nod a lot and hope she’s not asking for something important. And although she used to call me “mommy”, she recently began calling me “Ma-ma”, and it sounds exactly like a creepy talking doll. It’s horrible in the middle of the night.
My Dad wasn’t talking until the age of 3. Whatever my grandparents tried, he would just remain silent so they already believed he was some kind of retarded. Then when he was three and had just finished his meal, he suddenly said “Give me more, Mom.” My Granny almost got a heart attack and asked him why he hadn’t talked so far. He looked at her, shrugged and replied “There was just nothing to talk about.”
(Sorry if my English is crappy. I’m from Germany and it’s still early in the morning.)
I didn’t write the post because I was concerned. I wrote it because it’s just so different an experience than I had with Mazzy. By the time Mazzy really she had her own needs and wants, she knew exactly how to express them. This grunting shrieking thing is new for us!
Well, that’s good! I was just curious. It seems like sometimes drs jump all over things that may not turn out to be such a big deal in the long run.
Totally was like that with my nephews too – then when Kyle finally started talking in more than grunts he would not STOP talking. He can ask more questions than Macaully Culkin in Uncle Buck on any day. 🙂
p.s. My Boo Boo was speaking short sentences by 10 months. Totally freaked me out.
I love the way some people think you are asking for help or advice!
I started talking at 7 months (my parents will tell you I haven’t stopped since), my daughter had about 5 words at 18 months (I thought she was a freak) and I have no idea when my second startted talking. It wasn’t early though. And he didn’t crawl till 14 months or walk till 17 months!
Kids are strange. 🙂
You just brought tears to my eyes. This post is one of the sweetest examples of the overwhelming love equally felt for both of your children. You love them the same despite their differences.
Though I am logically “not worried” because all kids develop at their own pace, it was still helpful to me to have read this. My daughter, Bell, (22 months) did EVERYTHING early – crawl, walk, run, point, say “Dada”, sign – we thought genius! -but she seems slow on the uptake when it comes to ‘real’ talking.
We rationalize by saying that she communicates perfectly well – that she only “learns” (or gives in to) talking when there is no other way to communicate *ahem* get what she wants. She learned to say ‘please’ because it’s the only way she can get her hands on the iPhone. Now, she says sentences such as “Bye bye, Dada” and “Hi Gigi” (my mother) but STILL NO MAMA! It’s like she knows how bad I want it. 🙂
She has maybe 5 other words, but communicates so dang clearly – there is rarely any confusion as to exactly what she wants/means. So, it was entertaining and soothing to read this about your Harlow. Thank you!
If the shrieking bothers you (doesn’t appear to, at least not more than other typical behaviors) and she won’t speak you might want to try using some simple sign language with her. My youngest who is now three does have a speech delay / phonological impairment and I could tell that was an issue when he was the same age as yours is now, but we started using signs like please, thank you, drink, water, more so we could save some time and effort in trying to figure out what he was trying to communicate. To me that is the most important thing ~~ can my child communicate his wants or desires in a way I can understand so that I can meet his needs?? If not, then I get help to make that happen. 🙂
This is soo cute!! I LOVE Harlow’s attitude and she kind of reminds me of my son who also has a limited vocabulary for his age and is also somehow convinced he needs coffee.
I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog recently. I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 year old. My 2 year old has a vocabulary of maybe 10 words. I go back and forth about worrying about it. He clearly understands us and communicates very well. Since his sister started using full sentences around 18 months, it’s hard not to compare. This post and these comments helped ease my mind a bit. Thank you!