If you are familiar with the children’s book Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems you recognize this phrase as more than baby talk. This is what the little girl in the book says to her daddy when she realizes her most prized possession, her knuffle bunny, is missing. I won’t ruin the ending for you…you should check it out from the library. Both you and your child will enjoy this read.
There is a stage of speech and language development that most children go through; it is my most favorite stage. The stage when, in an attempt to express their thoughts more specifically and model adult language, the child begins using jargon speech. You know that adorable language that no one understands; when your child comes to you, looks you right in the eye and has a “conversation” with you and you don’t understand a single word. Although cute to us, it can be frustrating for the child. They are trying so hard to approximate the words they hear you say, using the same tone of voice and inflection, they think they have it. And then…you don’t get it. Some kids try to help you understand by pointing or gesturing and some kids are so disappointed you can’t interpret their language they become frustrated and tantrum.
The age we hear this “jibberish” is usually between 18 months to 3 years. As a child adds more “real” words to their expressive vocabulary they use less and less jargon speech. Although I was sad to see my kids outgrow this stage, I know they were relieved. Once they had a word for all the most important things to them, they were happier. They finally figured out this “language” thing they had been working on since birth and could express themselves more easily.
Even after practicing as a speech-language pathologist for several years I am still amazed by the development of language. Learning how to communicate with the world around you is a huge feat. Take time today to observe what stage of language development your child is in. Whether they are cooing back to the sound of your voice, creating their own sign language to help you understand them or talking to you in their own language it’s all part of the process of accomplishing one their greatest skills.