Friday, December 29, 2006

The World in Ayaan Speak

Ayaan has been relatively slow to talk. I know other kids his age who are saying a lot more than he is. I worry about this on and off and then reassure myself with the following pieces of wisdom:

  1. As long as the kid is saying a few words and has other non-verbal ways of communicating with you, things are moving along in the right direction. Ayaan is a fairly expressive little person if you account for all the non-verbal communication, which includes:
    • Pointing at things that he wants
    • Responding to demands to fetch various items like his shoes, pram, books and potty
    • Waving goodbye and blowing kisses when anyone leaves
    • Slaps and bites to display anger and affection (not good but communication nonetheless)
  2. Many people have told me that kids usually pick between physical and social development to focus on in their early toddler years. So kids who walk and run earlier (Ayaan took his first steps in his eleventh month) tend to be slower off the block as far as talking is concerned and vice versa.
  3. Another piece of wisom from Ranjit: Boys tend to talk later than girls. I had heard that before but it slipped my mind when I writing this post.
  4. Something to Say adds that children in bi-lingual households tend to speak later. And our household is seriously multi-lingual - on an average day, Ayaan is spoken to in English, Hindi and Marathi

Anyway, to reassure myself, I decided to make a list of the words he does say and came up with a surprisingly long and comforting list. Here it is:

Favourite Word

'Nuh' (accompanied by violent head-shaking)

Basic Needs
When he’s hungry, he demands ‘Foodie' or sometimes just ‘Foo’
At night when he’s been changed and read to, he knows it’s time for ‘Nini’ (sleep)
When he hears the bucket filling up in the bathroom, he knows it is time for his ‘Ba’ (bath)
Any other demands are communicated through finger-pointing accompanied by ‘Di’ (‘De’ is Hindi for give)

The VIPs
Mama’: This is not only the term used to address me but also his most favourite and oft-repeated word, often to no end. Sometimes, he will sit in his car seat and say ‘Mama’ over and over again twenty times is a row while observing the traffic.
‘Dada’: This is the second most favourite word - said most often when Jai is travelling. I try to give him involved answers like “Dada is in Delhi. He will be back on Friday – that is the day after tomorrow” but after he has done this about twenty times, I regress to a simple “Dada is in office”. I know it is not the truth but it keeps me from wanting to pull my tongue out…
‘Didi’: This is how he addresses the young maid who stays with us.
‘Sheeya’: – We have two maids for Ayaan – Surekha (morning) and Shashikala (rest of the day). He refers to them both as Shiya
‘Aayee’/ ‘Yaya’ – I am not 100% sure yet but I think these are early attempts at pronouncing his name.

Mother Nature
All birds are referred to as ‘Kaw’
All big animals (horses, cows, buffalos) are referred to as ‘Moo’
All small animals (dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits) are referred to as ‘Wawa’ (Bow-wow)
All plants, trees and leaves are referred to as ‘Fouva’ (flower)

Modes of Transportation
All big vehicles (vans, buses, trucks) are called ‘Bois’ (bus)
All small vehicles (cars, jeeps, SUVs) are called ‘Kai’ (car)

Other words
‘Koi’/ ‘Koni’: This is a questioning word. For example, when he throws his ball and can’t see it, he will turn his palms upward in a questioning manner and say "Koni?"
‘Dis’: This is a recent addition. He points to things he does not know the name of and says "Dis" (this?) and then you have to tell him what it is.

How do your experiences with 19-month olds and their vocabulary compare?


  1. Rohini, doesn't look like you need to worry at all. He seems to communicate pretty well - may not be crisp and clear words - but he is managing to communicate and distinguish between cousin's son used to also be slow compared to her brother's twin daughter's who could talk a lot by the time they turned two - but now that he is three plus he is totally caught up and you can hardly tell any difference in how much they speak.

  2. hope you're not comparing his use of speech with that of girls his age - girls are much faster to pick up speech on average than boys. His level of speech seems completely normal compared to other under-2's I have seen.

  3. I have an 18 month old - and like Ayaan - he manages to communicate mostly through his expression or pointing...basically non-verbal stuff. We did speak to his doc about it - who asked us to chill - apparently children in bi-lingual households speak later than single language homes. So as long as he babbles, says a few words and communicates - she said we were fine. Also a lot of kids are a little timid - so they wait till they grasp a few words more then they let it all out. I guess that goes for my son - coz he didnt begin walking till almost 15 months - and then he only I guess it does even out in the long run.
    oopps..this is almost a mini-post

  4. not that I have a kid and not that I propose to have one [how!? well, that still remains a mystery] in the near future, but from the learnings of being around my neice .. all I can say is ..


    cuz once they start, they certainly dont stop.

  5. Nicely written! I could almost imagine Ayaan in my mind speaking all these words.

    I have come a far way from "19 months" so I don't even remember what my daughter spoke at that age. All I remember is that she was slow to pick up, probably due to lack of social interaction. She was the only kid in our entire friend circle and probably the only kid her age in the entire neighborhood. Besides, we were new to the US and didn't have a large social circle. She started speaking in complete sentences almost overnight when we first visited India after coming here - she had just turned two then.

  6. I agre with the previous poster--not to compare him with girls. I had 2 girls before Neil and they spoke in 3-4 word sentences before turning 2. Neil was not saying much and this worried DH and he started making a list of his words and we realise he had a vocab of 150 word, in both hindi and English.Like "pani" and "dudu" he always ask for them in Hindi.
    Now at 26 months, he is speaking in 3-4 word sentences. His favourite, "Avasha did it"

  7. your post had me going through my archives to get a recap of what Tara did at that age! pretty much the same as ayaan i think. though i've heard that girls talk faster than boys.

    we used to call her language 'taraese' as she'd take words and give it her own water would be "dotay"... :)

    you can read it here..

    and lastly,....Happy New Year!

  8. [Noon] I am not seriously worried but we mothers do tend to have out moments of paranoia...

    [Mosilager] I knew i had missed something out. That is the third piece of wisdom - boys talk slower than girls. I will add that. Thanks.

    [Ssomethingtosay] And there's the fourth one. We are a multi-lingual household - he is exposed to English, Hindi and Marathi between us and the maids.

    [Onceagain] No hay-making really - because Ayaan can be pretty persistent about getting his point of view across, notwithstanding his limited vocabulary

    [Gettingtherenow] Know just what you mean. Ayaan suddenly started speaking a lot more since we got back from our Christmas visit with Jai's family.

    [Sraikh] I think the boys tend to focus on the physical aspect of their development than anything else. They'd rather run, jump and climb than worry about sissy things like words :)

    [Aqua] I remember reading that post. In fact, mine was kind of inspired by that :). Happy New Year!

  9. I think he is doing just fine and is a good communicator just like his mom

    happy 2007 to you!

  10. I thought Jude was a slow communicator, not saying more than a handful of words until he was about 22 months old, and not really "taking off" with talking until he was nearly three. Now Noah is 34 mos. old, and still says enough words that I could sit and count them if I really thought about it. Of course, he's always been "behind" in everything--he didn't start walking until 18 months! So, if I were you, I wouldn't worry about it. Lots of people say boys tend to talk later, too--it requires fine motor skills that girls tend to master much earlier than boys. (Oops, just noticed that someone else already said that.)

    Have a great day!

  11. no experience, but that sounds like good communication to me.
    the whole boy and girl thing is true too, i have a lot of young cousins and it's true that for the girls the development milestones tend to appear sooner.

  12. Isn't it kind of funny how people close to the child start repeating the words the child uses in normal conversation? My family used to do that around my baby sister.

  13. [Artnavy] :)

    [Talena] That is reassuring. Always helps to hear that from soemeone who has been through it.

    [Mona] I am glad I wrote this post because the comments have really made me lose the little niggling worry that I did have on this

    [Ranjit] I know it's hilarious. I often catch myself saying 'Let's have Foodie' even to Jai :)

  14. He will soon be talking nineteen to a dozen and you would not know how to make him be quiet at times. He is progressing along well. The latest addition of 'Mamu' to Rohan is awesome!!

  15. so sweet, he will soon pick up many words

  16. I am not seriously worried but we mothers do tend to have out moments of paranoia...

    and i must say, succumb to peer pressure! my young-mother-of-a-toddler friend gets into panic mode each time some auntyji says 'isn't she a bit slow walking/talking/recognizing ppl and watnot'.

  17. [Patti] He already is. There is almost a new word everyday - it's as if a dam has burst. Laetst update, there was 'eysh' (eyes), 'chiks' (cheeks) and 'pooty' (potty)

    [Itchingtowrite] It is quite amazing. Many people say 'you wait for them to talk and then you wish that they would stop' - I cannot imagine that...

    [Sudha] You bet! You look at similar aged kids all the time and try and see if your kid can do what they can.

  18. That makes me go *awwwww*... Wishing more progress in the year ahead. Happy New Year.

  19. [Seashells] Thanks :)

  20. Koni is so so cute! Does he mean Kona (who) or Kota(where)?
    Looks like he gets his point across and that's all that matters!

  21. "How do your experiences with 19-month olds and their vocabulary compare?"
    My son is almost the same age (he is 20 months old). Interestingly, his vocabulary skills are exactly same as Aayan's. He speaks only a few words, but he express everything he wants and feels. We decided not to be concerned about his verbal skills. He is learning new words everyday though.

  22. [@] I think it is a general question. Sometimes it is 'what' (when he points to something he does not know the name of) and at other times it is 'where' (when he can't see something he wants)

    [Twisted DNA] Same here. Ayaan has added atleast 10 words since I wrote this post.

  23. Well the Brat is about 2 weeks older than Ayaan and I had the same fears when I compared him to other little girls. But I dont know abt the walking. he was walking well at 10 months. in our home we speak hindi, tamil, bengali, english and konkani to the brat so i dont know abt bilingual but i do know that what really made a difference was the holiday i took at my parents home. ppl spoke to him all day and he now strings together loads of words in all the languages. and knows many words in atleast two languages. if you take a look around the kids who speak earliest seem to be the ones who live in joint families... oops.. mini post i seem to have written!

  24. I don't have any experience with a 19 month old but my experiences with a few grown up female friends of mine has been similar ! For ex Nini, Foodie etc.

    He's already saying Dis n Fouva? There's a cute kid who seems to be a hip-hop fan at 19 months ! Cute ! :)

  25. Don’t worry:-) Ayaan will be fine:-)

    A achieved his milestones early but Gudiya is way behind. She just started talking and until now she used to say 1word things or talk with her actions:-) I used to get a little worried then I thought she understands everything and she can get everything she wants using her own language so I shouldn’t get worried and enjoy the peace for few more months:-) Now she starts saying things in a day.. seriously, check my recent post;-)

    So don’t worry momma, enjoy his innocent language for few more weeks or months cuz once they start talking you will miss the babble:-)

    btw this is my 100th try to post comment :-(

  26. I can’t even open the comment section of ur recent post so posting it here..

    So Sorry to hear about ur cousin & ur car. I hope your rest of year will be great.

    And congrats on ur new place:-)

  27. Ayaan sounds just like my grandson (K)who is 19 months old (including the biting bit!). He too uses the same type of language and his doctor too told his mother that it's partly from being exposed to several languages. He was with us for around 10 days and i think his language skills did improve.

  28. My brother spoke very late, after two I think, (and I very early) and we ended up communicating equally efficiently eventually.

    Several languages complicates matters to start with, and they end up making up new words. I knew a 2 yr old who did that all the time. But eventually, multilingual households give them an unbeatable cosmopolitan outlook on life. Really.

    And that's my gyan for now. :)

  29. I started speaking when I was two and half years old. You met me when I was 28. Did you see any problem? Infact now people would pay me to shut up... So dont worry about this one.. Infact enjoy it till it lasts...Soon who will be poiting to things and asking "what is this" and "why is that", and then a new hell begins..