Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk, my Little Man

My son was, in my mind, a really late talker. I’ve based this assumption entirely on know-it-all charts and guidelines pulled from the Googleverse, coupled of course with sheepish shameful comparisons with other kids within his age bracket. I know every kid is different, that boys are generally slower to talk than girls, and that the widest variation occurs in speech development, but just try telling that to a first time mum who perhaps OD’d a bit on baby developmental reading material.


Early walker, late talker, so they say. And in Ryder’s case this seemed to be the case. This is the kid who was:

a mover and shaker from just a few weeks old…

crawling at 5 months …

climbing on all fours up stairs at 6 months…


cruising at 7 months…


and finally walking at 10.5 months. 



At 2 years old he has also finally achieved the physical dexterity to jump with both feet off the ground, instead of that pitiful, half airborne limp of a movement he’s been doing for the last year. [Olympics, here we come!]

But talking? Not such a walk in the park at all. We spent the first 1.5 years of his life often begging him to communicate with more than the deadpan stares and dummy-obstructed moaning, murmuring and whining which were his usual preference. This obviously led to occasional frustration all round. 

I’ll be the first to admit that in my neurotic, first-time-mum paranoia, I’d convinced myself that (a) his ears needed to be checked because he could have a hearing problem that could be the reason for his delayed speech, and (b) that he was potentially autistic (!) because he hadn’t said the 25 must-have words for 2 year olds. (As it turned out, he had said them. I just hadn’t understood his dodgy mispronunciations at the time. I also knew that his receptive language skills were spot on because he understood everything and could follow instructions perfectly. So paranoia eventually gave way to some sense and patience.) 

‘Dada’ was his first word and it only came close to a year, despite Hubster’s efforts to drum it into his head as often as possible from the minute our newborn could make steady eye contact. I can’t even remember when ‘Mama’ happened. But it wasn’t his first, so I ultimately lost that bet. In fact, he called me ‘Dada’ for many months. (Side note: He’s since more than made up for it with his incessant cries of “Mummy” 947 times a day.)

Ryder has two great loves in his life. One is his dummy, which I’m inclined to blame for the slow start on talking. The second is his beaten up baby pillow, which he drags around everywhere, but still refers to by way of a specific hand action instead of saying the actual word (picture one arm doing a tugging motion, accompanied by the phrase “uh uh uh”).

Real, intelligible talking only happened when he turned two, three months ago. And it’s almost as if a switch went on because those long awaited real words have been streaming in thick and fast since then. Because I felt I had been waiting for it for soooo long (even though it really wasn’t!), I am utterly loving this stage of hearing his vocabulary develop every day. I just about throw a party each time I hear a new word escape his lips.

This is a rundown of where Ryder’s at, at 27 months, in his own words. [Please, no comparisons. Just let me bask in my mummy joy in peace for just a short while.]

Earliest words (1 year onwards): dada; mama; baba; dum dum; ma; pa; kaka; hi; num num (food); done; there; go; gone; this; that

Weird words to say early: bubbool (“bubble”, which he said among his 1st 20, before some decidedly more basic ones)and 
“Teers” (“Cheers”… Because clearly mum and dad like to glug-glug and he hears this one a bit too often. Even knew the glass clinking action to accompany it at the time. *hides*)

Favourite word: Mummy (of course! Variations include Mum-Mum and Mama)

Close second: No!

Third: It’s a tie between Bye bye and More? (Usually a question) [He does ask ‘Why?’ but luckily it’s not at that annoying, STFU kid stage yet.]

Calls the nanny: Tayto or Chaycha (her name is Rachel)

First other name he said: Jody (his uncle) followed by Lee (his other uncle). He now also says a few other names, like his cousins’ and those of kids in his class, but the cutest for me is “Menke” – which I heard while he was shouting for our little neighbour “Minenhle” to come out and play.

Pronounces his own name as: Hyer

Favourite things to see: toot toot / tain (train); buth (bus); thuck (truck)

Other vehicle words: eh-pane (aeroplane); van; picky thuck (pickup truck)

Favourite characters: Bunny (that’s Barney); Bob (the Builder); Pidey (Spiderman); Tommees (Thomas the Tank Engine). 

Favourite toys: car; bikegun and ball (pronounced as “bowl” up until a few weeks ago) 

Favourite food: tees (cheese). Also likes hithe / withe (rice); peath (peas); nyanas (viennas) and thipth (chips)

Lispy words: thtar (star); buth (bus); pidey (spider); thtuck (stuck); ky (sky); thweep (sweep)

I know he’s South African because: he says “uppool” for apple. And also peppers his babble with exclamations of “ith” (eish), “joh!” and “hawu” (totally picked up from mummy’s bad habits)

Weirdest pronunciation: Wowfie (flower)

Favourite numbers: two; twee (three) and eight. If he sees a number, he’ll try to convince you it’s one of these. I’ve also heard him say one, four and thith (six), although five and seven are mysteriously M.I.A. Somebody call the number police.

Favourite clothing words: top;toos (shoes); bootsbeanie; eyhat (hat); baht (belt)

Hates: taaag (i.e. scratchy clothing labels). [“Cut taaag Mummeee!”

Favourite drinks: water (which was warti until not so long ago); mik (milk) and doose (juice)

Favourite fruit: uppool (apple, as mentioned) and nana (banana)

Body parts: he can point out pretty much all his body parts like a pro, but I’ve only ever heard him actually pronounce – ehyed (head); toes; ehya (hair); ehyas (ears); nose; eye’th (eyes); bum bum; tummy; knees

Favourite action words: go; goee (going); come; cummee (coming); kick; yun / yunnee (run/running); yainee (raining); dust; wipe; wash

Favourite animal words: horth (horse); ghogho (insect); moo (cow); woo woo (dog); meow (cat); gh-gh (pig); buhddy (bird). ‘Lion’ is always just “roarrrrr” and monkey is “oooh ooooh oooh”

Magic words: peese (please). Hasn’t quite gotten “thank you” down pat yet, so it sounds weird when he tries it.

Other random words (the ones I can decode): pee; poo; bath; towu (towel); paper; co (cold); yot (hot); yight (light); tairs (stairs); money; bin; bwead (bread); me; mine; up; down; on; ooff (off); in; out; pop; bowl; poon (spoon); pull; poolmoon; door; book; bop bop (hooter); beep beep; park; houth (house); bwick (brick); wheel; many; beeeg (big)

Favourite nursery rhyme: “Yound Yound Buth” (as in, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round). Also loves “Eeyai Eeyai” (Old McDonald Had a Farm) 

Sentences: usually 2-3 words but every now and then he surprises me, like when he heard raindrops hitting the window and started singing “yain yain, go way” repeatedly 🙂

Language is such a beautiful thing and to witness it developing in my little man brings me so, so much joy. Like the kind of joy that makes me shriek each time he says something new and then I try get him to say it again, but by then he’s too startled to humour his lunatic mum. And then I record it on a list I have of stuff he’s saying, so that one day I can look back at it when he’s asking me a bajillion questions and remember the time long ago when he was so lovely and, well, so nice and quiet.


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