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Parents Panel: How did your little one navigate learning to talk?

“She says ‘dada’. Not just to her dad, though…”

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AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

This week, we’re asking about first words, babbles, and finally stringing a sentence together: How did your little one navigate learning to talk?

Here’s what our panel had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

He sized it all up for a while: Our son began talking at about a year. When he did begin to speak, he tried his best to use full words all the time. He’s the kind of kid that waited until he could do something almost properly before giving it a go, he’d size stuff up and then go for it. My own dad lived with us at the time and would spend hours just chatting to him, singing him songs… and watching Andre Rieu!

- Olly Keegan 

He was shy, but he got there: The youngest of my two kids was referred to Speech and Language Therapy for delayed speech, but once his big sister started at preschool, he started to talk. I think he had just lacked the airspace to give it a go. He never stops now… but I’m not complaining!

- Denise

Ellie still struggles with pronunciation: Ellie has just turned three. In the last month she seems to have found her voice after a diagnosis of delayed speech, but is still not pronouncing her words properly and is dropping vowels. The speech therapist has said her constant ear infections could have something to do with it so we are waiting on an ENT appointment. Her cousin is five weeks older than her and is having full conversations… it’s hard not to compare them.

- Denise Cumiskey

57457e2c-f851-4354-8f0d-89d742c87a4c Charlie 'talking' on the phone. Source: Kait Quinn

He spends lots of time making important phone calls: Charlie is 15 months old. He isn’t stringing together sentences yet but he has what sounds like full blown conversations on his play phone, babbling away with loads of sounds and varied intonation. It’s very cute! He has a minor tongue tie so we’re on the lookout for any impact this will have on his speech development.

- Kait Quinn

She says ‘dada’… to everyone: My little one (ten months) does say ‘dada’, but she uses this to refer to her Dad as well as her favourite teddies and books. Despite a lot of work on my end, ‘mama’ has not happened yet!

- Ríona Flood

He’s learning two languages at once: Tymek is a bilingual child. From myself and his childminder he hears Polish exclusively, while his dad and the rest of the world address him in English. At 22 months, he fully understands both languages, has many words in both and mixes them into short sentences. Spác is the Polish for sleep, so he’ll say ‘me no spác’ to mean ‘me no sleep,’ for example.

- Marta Lisiecka

shutterstock_152684360 Source: Shutterstock/Elena Stepanova

Having older siblings to learn from helped: Each of our four kids learned to speak at different ages. From the day they were born we always believed in having conversations with them, even though they wouldn’t be capable of joining in for some time. Our youngest (nearly three) has great language skills, probably because he has three siblings to learn from.

- Ross Boxshall

Granny taught him one word, and the rest is history: The difference between my girls and my boys was quite striking. Both Rhiannon and Rosie had their first words before they turned one. It was much later with the boys – 18 months for Malachi and almost two years for Brendan. One day granny taught Brendan to say ‘choo-choo train’, and after that it snowballed. He was a total chatterbox in no time.

- Susannah O’Brien 

They picked things up very quickly: My sons started talking early on and were chatting clearly by 18 months. I read to them every day which I think helped, but I never forced the issue. It makes very little difference in the grand scheme of things. Once they can speak by school age what different does it make?

- Suzie Kelly

shutterstock_603224183 Source: Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

Our nine-year-old is having some issues: Our three kids all navigated learning to talk quite quickly, but right now we are having some speech issues with our nine-year-old. His word pronunciation has deteriorated to the point that it’s hard to understand him sometimes. When he tries, he can speak perfectly clearly, but being nine, he forgets and reverts. We’re working with him on it every day and will stick with it.

- Alan Dooley

We could understand them, but others found it hard to: Both Daniel and Nathan said their first words around nine months, but required some level of speech therapy as they grew up as they weren’t speaking clearly enough. Karen and I could understand them fine but other people found it hard to do so. I must say that the speech therapy hugely helped them.

- Ken Hyland

Want to follow in the footsteps of St Patrick? We have two family passes for a very special walking tour. Enter here - and don’t forget to like TheJournal.ie’s Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter!

More Parents Panel: What’s your best tip for taming toddler meltdowns?

More Parents Panel: What one thing helped you prepare for giving birth?

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