So last week, I spilled the beans in my post about sleep training Benji, that, at 7 + months, he was not yet babbling. To most parents, this might not be alarming and if a parent were to ask me if they should be concerned about their child’s speech then, I would say “keep an eye and ear out for it, but it’s still too early to sound any real alarm bells.” But to me, a Speech-Language Pathologist parent, this was quite possibly one of the top things I was concerned about (along with his sleep and eczema). In fact, I was already keeping a keen ear out for babbles since he was about 5 months old, which is the time when most babies develop this skill. All I got were vocalizations; admittedly, they were pretty good ones with lots of variance in pitch and volume. But no babbles. He wasn’t even doing any raspberry kisses, which a lot of babies would’ve already done.
I did not express my concern to many people, who I know would’ve just brushed aside my concern and say I’m being an overeager parent (which is true). (My younger brother also had a history of some speech and language delays growing up so I do have some grounds for concern here, although he speaks and writes beautifully now.) On the quiet, though, I was doing all sorts of “therapy” with him. By that, I mean simply using different ways to teach him consonant sounds, since I have that knowledge, and since it’s not exhausting and won’t harm him in any way. Besides the usual reading to him and doing play therapy with him (making animal noises, sounds with cars, buses, etc.), I also at times would babble to him when he started vocalizing. I also used cued articulation, a visual system where a sign is attached to a consonant sound, to highlight the “p”s and “b”s with him, and whenever he stuck his tongue out at me – which was promising, it showed me he was aware of this articulator in his mouth and manipulating it – I would stick it back at him and then proceed to babble “la-la.” Meal times were the best to “show” him “how” to babble because he could focus and would have the most opportunity to look intently at my mouth as I used food to entice him.
Finally, I also used bits from the PROMPT method to show him and let him feel how he could make the “b” and “p” sounds, mostly doing it when he was already vocalizing. After 2 months of doing all that, one day last week, when Bry took Benji out, I got a text message: “Your son is babbling. I heard him do “la” and “da.” Always the skeptic, I wanted to make sure what he did not mishear, and asked: “Did you see his tongue and lips move to do that?” Bry replied tersely “yes, I have a video.”
I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it again: indeed, my husband knows me well. 🙂
Shortly after they returned and I viewed “the evidence,” Benji started going “ba-la-ba” and the Speech-Language Pathologist mom that I am cracked a huge grin and planted kisses everywhere on his face. “Great babbling!! Keep going!!! It is the most beautiful sound in the whole wide world!” I told him. You see, he wasn’t just doing reduplicated babbles, which features just one consonant in a string of babbles (e.g., “bababa”), he was doing variegated ones, a more complex version consisting of more than one consonant (e.g., “balada”). I was ecstatic; I think his speech is where he should be now!! Was it the therapy? Or was it just “his time”? Who cares!?!! He is babbling and that’s all that matters.
About a week after, my heart still melts whenever he starts “talking”. I’m pretty sure his first word will bring tears to my eyes.