NATTER NATTER CHATTERBOX: TODDLER SPEECH

09:10


Anyone that knows me will tell you that I'm a chatterbox. I was always that kid at school that was shoved in the corner on a table of their own, facing the wall as not to distract the rest of the class. Always the one that was told off even when I wasn't talking (which really wasn't all that often!), given the task of narrating the school play or to sing all on my lonesome in church on the last day of primary school... in front of the whole school and the parents, I might add.

Before Theo was born, people used to laugh when I'd force Mike to read Aesop's Fables to my ever growing bump (come on, I want him to have a good moral compass) or to sing lullabies as I lay there with my feet propped up. But it's always been so important to me that we communicate with one another, for us to be open and to be able to share in our worries, and our successes.

So as soon as my little nugget made his long awaited appearance, I spoke to him. From day dot, I'd tell him what I was doing.

"Hey there baby, I'm just cleaning up this minging poop that's gone so far up your back I'm wondering if you've suddenly become jaundice."
"Ooo bubba, are you awake already from that teeny, almost unrecognisable nap?"
"You want another bottle bubba, moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips."

Not only did it build an unmistakable bond between the two of us but, well, it kept me bloody sane! Being at home on your own, all day with no one (not no one but you get my drift) to talk to can be so unbelievably lonely. It was as much for his sake as it was mine!

Once we'd hit our six month milestone, I decided to take it one step further. It was, and still is, really important to me that Theo is happy and smiling for as much of his life as possible. So we took up sign language. Again, I got the laughs and judgements. No he isn't deaf but he can't speak. It's a physical way a baby can communicate what they want! And within weaks, he was asking for milk himself and for more food. It was amazing to watch and hit my heart in ways I cannot even describe.

I read stories to him before he could even hold his head up properly and mimicked sounds he made just so that he gained some acknowledgement for all his efforts to talk to me.

By 9 months, he was saying all the usual first words along with naming animals and making animal noises. I really do believe a combination of all these things have played a massive part in the way he speaks now and when I have another baby, I will do exactly the same.

Never be embarrassed or fear judgement when it comes to making decisions about your child. If you want to use prompt cards, sign language, dance moves, food bribes then you bloody well do it. When they hit 18 months and you're having full blown conversations with them, you're able to negotiate with them to not eat a piece of lego, avoid a town centre tantrum by means of distraction or explain why Nanny and Gaga can't permanently live with us, you'll be giving yourself a little pat on the back and thanking the Gods that you 'wasted' all that time chatting.

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