Daniel does and doesn't

This morning, Daniel and I had a double date with the doctor. He had his routine 18-month check-up, and I had my monthly preg-preg check-up. Things pretty much went as I expected. The baby's heartbeat is good and strong, I'm growing as I should, and so is Daniel. He's way up in the height percentiles and way down in the weight percentiles, long and lanky like his Uncle Joe. His motor skills are great, he engages in all kinds of play appropriate for his age, he's getting good at throwing tantrums and he really hates having his ears checked.

But there are a couple funny things about him. For one, he's not really talking yet. I think by 18 months, he should have a vocabulary of a dozen words or so. He certainly verbalizes plenty, and he's making all the right sounds, but almost all of what comes out of his mouth is pure nonsense. Every once in a while, we'll detect a "Mama" or "Daddy" or "bah" (ball), but it's not very often. Two months ago, I got him to say "down" when we were going down some stairs, but he has yet to repeat it. A few times he's said "duh" while looking at a picture of a duck. But that's really it.

The other thing is Daniel's odd habits with food. Children his age normally eschew purréed baby food in favor of grown-up food cut into little bits. They like to pick up food themselves with their grubby little fingers and stuff it into their mouths. Not my child. He eats exactly three things with his hands: slices of bread, graham crackers and, if no fork is available, banana. That's right. He prefers to eat his banana slices with a fork, thanks, and if any bit gets smeared on his hand or fingers, he'll hold it out for you, the nearest adult, to wipe off. He also looooooooves purréed food, the same kind of stuff I was feeding him as an eight-month-old: red lentils or split peas cooked with carrots, peas, potatoes, squash, or whatever I can find at the farmers' market, then mixed with yogurt for fat and protein. If any little bit of it is still at all chunky, from a piece of mushy carrot to a single split pea that escaped the blender's spinning blades, he'll wrinkle up his face and hold the offending food out on his tongue and wait for you, the nearest adult, to remove it.

At first, when I explained all this, the doctor suggested that we have a specialist do some kind of "evaluation," I guess to see if there are any "oral problems" (because I need more things to stress me out like I need another hole in the head.) She changed her mind by the end of the appointment, though, after I told her that according to my parents, I was kind of late to do everything - walking, talking, potty-training, eating solid foods. (Obviously, I can do all of those things now. I can even feed myself!) Plus, Daniel's motor skills and language comprehension (if not language production) are just where they should be. I would say he's even a bit ahead of the game when it comes to climbing stairs, chairs and playground equipment, the little monkey.

Still, it makes me wonder if I could be doing more to encourage these things. This afternoon I tried to get him to say "off" and "on" (he was flipping the light switch over and over), "ball" (we were playing outside) and "cat" (the next-door neighbors have one), but it was all to no avail. At dinner, I put some shredded cheese and a piece of cucumber on his plate along with the slice of bread and split pea mush he usually eats; he ignored the cuke, then tried to feed the cheese to Stuart. I guess we have a little ways to go, huh?


Tooz said…
Give him time. He'll get there. I'm glad things are going well with the baby-to-be, too. Am I right that you chose not to know what this one will be?
jen said…
The fact that he can USE a fork is, according to our doc, way ahead of the game. And at 18 months, "average" is mama, daddy, +4-6 others, but unless he has hearing or comprehension issues (which it doesn't seem he does), I wouldn't worry too much. Occupational Therapy might help him get over the mouth things, but time might help him with that, too. And there's nothing you can do to get him to talk sooner; there are things you can do to stunt language development, but they amount to basically locking him in a closet & never speaking to him, which you of course don't do. What I'm trying to say is: you're doing fine!
Jamie was pretty late to talk, and when he did start "talking" he would always leave the ends off of words. Come to find out, his chronic ear infections had left so much fluid on his ears that he wasn't properly hearing things. Once the doc was able to get the ear infections under control (by treating his allergies) his talking took off and he now has the vocabulary of a middle schooler. So, any number of minor things could be going on. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Then, too, you hear stories every once in a while about kids that never say a word - I mean, literally don't say ANYTHING - then when they're three or four all of the sudden start talking in long complex sentences with amazing vocabularies.

So, basically, he'll talk when he's ready to. Don't stress about it.

Big hugs to you!
Becca said…
One of the biggest things you can do to encourage him to talk is ask questions and give space for him to answer. Let him hear conversational flow. He won't begin speaking in sentences, of course, but he'll babble and get the hang of it.

From what I remember from last year, CJ was the same way. Only a few words, some signs, and lots of pointing. By the time a child is two, they should have a vocabulary of about 50 words--so when you think about it, Daniel's right on pace.

Foodwise, you've taken a good first step. Continue to offer new things and new options. Eventually, he'll pick them up. And he'll backtrack sometimes, just when you think you've gotten it. I think kids do that to keep you on your toes. Using a fork is quite impressive, though. CJ was still struggling with utensils and preferred using his hands at 2, and if he got something really sticky or wet, he'd demand a napkin immediately. And he still, if he gets a mouthful of something he doesn't like (like a piece of onion or mushroom) will reach into his mouth and scrape the offending item off his tongue.

I do not claim to know all, but I think little Danimal is perfectly fine.

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