Time deficit, chronic tiredness, and endless monologues. Or are they monologues?


12 weeks –

babbling [na-a-na-na], [aree], [ørø] (sound [r] in this case sounds more like French uvular fricative, so we were laughing that Max was saying ‘heureux’)

just under 4 months –

babbling gets more varied; Max copies the falling tone of our talk when addressing him

just under 6 months –

“blows raspberries”, practices bilabial consonants [m] and [b], as well as well as the voiceless stop [k]. Max’s range of intonations is very diverse.

6 months –

often speaks in clusters of consonants, his favourite consonant now is [g], as in [ga] (note: at 11 months [ga] and [ka] will stand for many words in Russian that finish in [ka], so maybe this actually had its beginning at 6 months. Max figured out that many Russian nouns, especially in a diminutive form:
  • кисонька (cat),
  • собачка (dog),
  • птичка (bird),
  • рыбка (fish),
  • машинка (car), etc.)

7 months –

first experiments with his tongue: sticks it out, chews on it, rolls it; then his babbling always diversifies, like Zoe’s [bla-bla-bla]

8 months –

has learnt to beckon the ducks from Grandma Valentina by opening and closing the palm “Ути-ути-ути, идите к нам!” (Ducks-ducks-ducks, come to us!)
Repeats [k-k-ka!] very often.
Sometimes waves for привет (hi) and пока (bye).
Has caught up with Zoe’s babbling skills [ata-ajda-da-a-ya].

just under 9 months –

says [mama/ama], not clear if he means мама (mother). That’s what they say when taken away from me, wishing to be given back to me, which makes me think that they do mean мама (mother).
Max has learnt to raise his hands at the end of the Russian rhyme Ладушки for “бабушка добренька” (granny is gentle): we thus stroke both cheeks when saying the last line.

9 months –

Max has started pointing at animals in the book, like обезьянка (Rus. “monkey”).
His favourite now is [ata], which he repeats in various contexts and with different intonations and varying stress.

10 months –

crawls to the toy tiger when asked Где тигренок? (Where’s the little tiger?).
[dat’] – (Rus. “to give”)

11 months –

  • Max’s babbling has got more “advanced” than Zoe’s. Babbles a lot, with himself and with others.
  • He repeats words after me: the rhythm of the word plus some of its syllables [ika], [ka], [aka], [oka], [uka].
  • His phonetics and intonation sound Russian to me.
  • Points at the parts of his head, like eyes and ears when asked Где глазки? Где у Максика ушки? (Rus. “Where are the eyes? Where are Max’s ears?”), but not always correctly. Sometimes he just touches his head with both hands. Similarly with the parts of toys’ heads.
  • кашка (Rus. “cereal, porridge”) – [kahka/ka:ka/kayka]
  • пуговка (Rus. “button”) – [gaka]
  • He imitates the sounds produced by cars and planes by blowing raspberries.


7 weeks –

cooing, especially when Zoe is cozy and snug, in a sling with someone

4 months –

Zoe’s babbling [glya-yaoo-nya-n-n-nya-nya-nyoo]. [Glya] will take an important place in Zoe’s repertoire for a long time
4.5 months – [ya-a-a-na-a-a-lya-a-a-a]

just under 6 months –

likes testing the volume range of her voice as she goes from whispering [hej] to shrieking [a-a-a-a]! Dominating consonants: [n] and [l], as in [na], [ni], [nej], [na].

6 months –

still prefers vowels; dominant clusters of sounds are [hej] and [ni].

just under 7 months –

Zoe’s babbling has drastically diversified and advanced! It sounds like a made-up language. The change took place overnight and was striking! [na-la-bla-blya-li-na-ba]

7 months –

“blows raspberries”, imitates fish [pʌ-pʌ-pʌ].

Started to clap her hands to a Russian rhyme similar to “Pat-a-cake” Ладушки.

8 months –

has learnt to beckon the ducks from Grandma Valentina by opening and closing the palm “Ути-ути-ути, идите к нам!” (Ducks-ducks-ducks, come to us!)

She is picking up new gestures and sounds very fast now, she watches our articulation rather intently [plya-pla-ama].

Sometimes waves for привет (hi) and пока (bye).

just under 9 months –

says [mama/ama], not clear if she means мама (mother) (See the same for Max).
Zoe is showing affection to soft toys, she presses them to her chest and face and addresses them with a high-pitched tone imitating our baby-talk.

9 months –

Zoe gracefully waves rotating her wrist when she hears Барыня (a Russian song accompanied by this motion). She has learnt this from Granny Valentina.

Zoe calls me [ma-a-a]. She kisses me when I lean to her and say Поцелуй, Зоенька! (Rus. “Zoe, kiss!”). 2 days after Max she pointed at the monkey in a book when asked Где обезьянка? (Rus. “Where is the monkey?”). When she sees a cat, a toy or a real one, or hears me say кисонька (cat) she says [a! a! a!] in a high-pitched voice.

10 months –

[pu-pu-pu], [pa-pa-pa], [ata-atya]

11 months –

  • Babbles a lot, with herself and with others.
  • Points at the parts of her head, like eyes and ears when asked Где глазки? Где у Зоеньки ушки? (Rus. “Where are the eyes? Where are Zoe’s ears?”), but not always correctly. Sometimes she just touches her head with both hands. Similarly with the parts of toys’ heads. She even points at her nose with her index finger sometimes (not always) when asked Где у Зоиньки носик? (Rus. “Where is Zoe’s nose?”).

11.5 months –

  • Zoe’s babbling has once again become more diversified than Max’s! She imitates our speech. It is hard to say what language she sounds more like: Russian, Swedish or English
  • [badya], [vot], [di-di], [bot’], [vot’], [dat’!], [buti-buti-uit’]
  • She imitates the sounds produced by cars and planes [v-v-v-v].
NB: Labeling one’s children is tempting but it is never a good thing to do. It is tempting because it gives one a feeling of having figured one’s children out, and of knowing them. I am guilty of generalising and labeling. Zoe was the first to coo, and so I assumed that she would lead in language development. Then Max was the first to babble, and again I jumped to the conclusion, that his language skills were more advanced than Zoe’s. Then Zoe’s babbling took off simply overnight, and there was no stopping her ‘chatting’ which now was more advanced phonetically and intonationally than Max’s. However, Max was the first to actually speak some Russian words besides ‘mama’ (мама) and ‘papa’ (папа). In the matters of language(s) development, and any other development really, there is no room for labels, predictions, and assumptions.


Cooing – vowel-like sound that infants make when they appear to be happy and content (WANG, X.-L. 2008. Growing up with Three Languages., Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto, Multilingual Matters, p.73).
Babbling – repetition of consonant-vowel combination sounds (ibid.p.74).


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