Twinning: My Twins Took Forever To Start Talking & Then Called Everything ‘Cat’

twins talkingHaving twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.

When my daughter Allie said “Mama” at only seven months old, I was probably the proudest mom on the planet. Seven months old! She was obviously a genius. And she didn’t just say it once—she said it over and over for about an hour, long enough for me to videotape it so I could prove to all my relatives that I had one of the smartest babies in the world.

Then Allie didn’t say “Mama” or anything else for months. Both my twins didn’t really start speaking until they were two years old. When they did talk before that, all they basically said was “cat” and we didn’t even have a cat.

By the time they were 10 months old, both Allie and Nick were babbling “mamama” and “dadada” but still not saying words with meaning. My mom thought it was helpful to point out repeatedly that I started talking at nine months, but I wasn’t worried. I’d read and heard from many twin-mom friends that twins start talking later than singleton babies and sometimes only speak in a language the two of them understand. I was okay with waiting.

When he was a year old, Nick learned how to whine “Mom”—he’d really drag it out and pronounce it a little like the character Cartman in “South Park” does: “Maaaam.” For a few weeks, it was the first thing he’d say when he woke up, and it was the first thing I’d hear on the monitor in the morning. I have to admit that I didn’t mind waking up to it—when your kids aren’t talking, you take what you can get.

Then when he was 14 months old, Nick replaced “Maaaam” with “cat” and he would say it all day long. Any animal he’d see was a cat. After a few days of listening to his cat-centric talk, Allie figured it was a good idea and joined him in calling everything a cat. We’d be outside and see someone walking their dog, and they would yell “CAT!” I’d show them flashcards that had pictures of keys, a ball, a baby, a cat, and for every one, Nick would say “cat.” Naturally during the first few weeks of this cat-talk, I would correct them, saying “That’s a doggy!” or “That’s a ball!” but every time I did, they would just shout me down with “cat!”

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  • meg

    Kids are weird. I was a singleton, and I would only say “duck” for a really, really long time – then one day I just started using sentences. It spooked the hell out of my parents.

    “Cat” could get annoying, but it could always be worse – my older half-sister learned to talk during her parents’ epic marriage battles, and her first recognizable word, even before dada or mama, was sh*thead. True story.

    • Gloria Fallon

      Ha! I guess I’m lucky I got “cat”!!

    • StephKay

      Another “duck” baby! My daughter is one of those major talker babies. Mama at seven months, cat at nine months, and by 18 months we were officially in “she can talk” territory. She turns three in a couple of days and routinely throws lines like “I have many frustrations” at me, so needless to say despite being late to potty train and walk she has never run out of things to say. But then there’s the duck thing. We watch jeopardy a lot, and when she was a baby she thought it was hilarious when we’d shout out answers. One day jeopardy was on, they asked a question and she shouted “it’s duck!” and continued to answer every question with “duck!” every single time. I guess over time she realized I thought it was hysterical, so to this day every time I put jeopardy on all I ever hear is “duck! It’s a duck! Is it duck?what is duck! Duck!!!”.

      Your half-sisters first word is amazing. I work in social services and would bring my baby to meetings which resulted in her occasionally shouting “gay!” at around ten months old, I can only imagine how “sh*thead” would have gone over.

  • bumbler

    maybe they were saying “that” and not “cat”

  • Jennifer Ives O’Meara

    This is a story almost exactly like mine. My 21 month old started saying da da at 9 months. We were so proud! Then it was da da for mama, the dog, his books, his toys. He still calls everything da da. He will randomly say things like dog or bird, but it goes from well this is just normal behavior too is he lacking in development by the 500 dada of the day. Just recently he started calling me maamaa, just like cartman from south park. Cracks me up as well. I am not too concerned because his cognitive behavior is excellent and he has an older brother that talks 24/7. Story gives me hope that he is fine & not to start worrying, unless there is no improvement in 6 months.

    • Gloria Fallon

      That’s hysterical—I love that your little guy does the Cartman whine too! I think you’re right not to worry now–mine went from “cat” to 20 words in a week, and they never looked back. Good luck and enjoy all that toddler talk–I miss it!

  • Joan Higgins

    I remember those days! Now they don’t shut up!

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Must have driven you batty, but hey, at least they grew out of it and you have some cute memories!

  • AugustW

    My singleton daughter is nearing 26 months and is barely a talker. She was evaluated recently and they said she had the vocabulary of a 12 month old. We started sign language last week and she can already sign more words than she can say. (“More” “Milk” and “Dog” are big favorites) Her little face just lights up when she can express herself to me! It’s great. I highly recommend signing for any late talkers. I’m not sure if it will help her speak in the future, but for now it’s giving us a bridge and allowing her to express herself.

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  • chaircover66 .

    This story was hilarious, still laffin. My 11mth old have never said da da, instead mama, hi, hello, bye bye and bru bru(brother) at 9 mths. I tell you no lie, I turn on his favorite learning show “Wonder Why” and he pronounces the sounds. The d sound for dog, c sound for cat, took me for a loop. He also will pronounce the words you say to him. I also have two nieces whom spoke in complete sentences at 15mths. Not baby babbling, half words, full conversations that actually spooked people. My brother friends was so spooked by my niece Lacey, they wouldn’t come in the house, lol. She would stand up in playpen and ask “where you going daddy”? at 15 mths old. When I had my other niece, people would double back in store and asked whom was I speaking with? I have no reason to lie, it even astounded me. Then my nephew walked at 7 months….my oldest son at 9 mths and the baby just started at 11mths.