Deciphering toddler babble

Our 18-month-old son has now learned how to say several words, which is increasingly helping us as parents in how we interact with him. It’s learning what those words actually mean that will be the next big step for him.

For instance, for weeks now he’s said “no” when he really means “yes.”

Just lately, he has added a louder and quicker “no” to his vocabulary and this actually means “no.”

So now we have to determine which “no” he means each time. For awhile there he actually would shake his head back and forth when he really meant “yes,” so that even added to the confusion.

The animal kingdom has done wonders to add to vocabulary the past few weeks as he picks up their names from books or songs. He’s always known “bear” but now has added “duck” and “cat” and several others. The budding nature lover is also really into frogs, but that word is so boring for him. He prefers to say “ribbit,” which is much more fun to say.

He’s getting really good at repeating things we say as well, with the biggest one being “What?”

His mother could have sworn she heard him say “I love you mama” the other day. I was in the room and I can’t confirm that, though it sounded like he was at least trying to say it – and that counts.

Even when just babble comes out it’s easy to tell he’s trying to get his point across.

He is also getting quite good at getting attention when he wakes up. If nobody gets him right away he’ll start saying “Mama, mama, mama.” If that doesn’t work then he starts rattling off “Dada, dada, dada.”

By that time, someone usually swoops into his room to get him up.

It kind of makes things exciting at our home as you never know what word is going to come out of his mouth next.

He continues to learn how using the right word is going to help him out. If he doesn’t know the word of the type of food he wants, he has learned where the food is stored and can point to where it is.

He takes after his older sister on that one. For years, she has known exactly where our sweets are located in the house and the supply levels of each of those sweets. With the same sweet tooth, he too will learn our supply levels soon.

Eating is a language we all have in common in our household.

Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or