Ian said his first words by his first birthday–Mama, Dada, Oh-oh, and learned to sign a few more–milk, down, finished (for more information on signing see the American Sign Language browser). Next, he started holding his hands out on either side of his shoulders, palms up to mean “where did it go?” or “no more.” Then, he stopped learning new words.
It became clear he understood just about everything by the time he was 15 months. I realized this one day when I asked him if he wanted to go outside and he ran to the door. But still, just a few more words–ball, no. He started having conversations with himself even with his limited vocabulary: “No?”, “No!!”, “No?”, “No!!”
Now, at almost 19 months, he seems to be picking up a new word every day–wall, cat, dog, Java (one of our cat’s names), dirt, ear, eye, bye-bye, shoe. He started using the sign for “more” (only he does it like the sign for hurt–Yesterday he bumped his head and used it to mean hurt for the first time). He also started putting words together like “my ball,” “no more,” “oh wow,” and the signs for “more” and “milk.” Last week, he even exclaimed “Oh boy!” when he saw one of his favorite toys. More and more, he says the words for milk and down, though he still uses the signs.
Of course, Ian’s versions of words are not always complete, and sometimes I have to hear him say things a few times before I realize it’s really a word (Java is Vava or WaWa. Wawa is also water). Yesterday, he kept calling his balloon “ball” until he finally came out with “baboo.”