The Language of a 17 Month Old

My little sidekick is almost a year and a half. He is drastically different from that cute little newborn that just slept and sat around all day. Austin does everything BUT that. He is walking and running everywhere. His little feet just can’t take him where he wants to go fast enough. He is curious, smart, and opinionated. My husband always comments on how Austin isn’t “talking” to us. Of course, he is talking to us, but in his own little language. He has gesture, grunts, and adds intonation to some of his jibber jabber. He WILL find a way to get you to understand. Whether it be pulling you to what he wants or brining it to you.

I sat down and made a list of all the words he can say & the gestures and body language he uses.

Words and Phrases:

  • cat/kitty
  • cow
  • dog
  • “woof”
  • Sara
  • owl
  • “roar”
  • Daisy
  • bubble
  • hi
  • hey
  • no
  • ya (yes)
  • Dada
  • Mama (not as often as I would like)
  • GiGi
  • yay
  • thank you
  • apple
  • Gramma
  • my girl — when he is referring to Amber (Carl’s girlfriend)
  • water
  • that
  • come
  • more
  • ball
  • kick
  • up
  • “do it” (with intonation at the end like it is a question)
  • “I do” (with intonation)

Genstures & Movements:

  • points– when he wants you to get him something. Usually it is the Fruit Loops on top of the fridge.
  • shakes head– and no means no! Sometimes he even scrunches his nose and purses his lips to emphasize that he does NOT want what you’re offering.
  • high-five– he is a little stingy with his high fives. He has to be in the mood
  • waves bye– he will do this on his own and when asked
  • blows kiss- LOVE when he does this.
  • hands up reaching for you– this means pick me up. He rarely says “up,” but he is starting to.
  • if he REALLY wants to get your attention and you are standing near a counter he will get between you and the object and PUSH you away from it. This means “HEY, pay attention to me. I want something or I want to see what you are doing up there. Does it involve food?”
  • Happy Feet — he does a little Mumble Happy Feet dance when he is happy. He didn’t learn it from the movie because we have only watched it once a LONG time ago.
  • grabby hands– if he really wants something, he will clench his fists open and close, reach for the object, and say “oOooOOoo.”

Overall, he understands a lot. I wish we had pursued sign language more vigorously. I am sure he would get less frustrated with communicating if we had. I heard that their vocabulary sky rockets at 18 months. I will keep you updated with the progress. This would definitely help once the baby is born. I have also added a list of his likes and dislikes here–


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  • baths



  • water


  • sand


  • being outside
  • bubbles
  • animals


  • phones
  • airplanes– he can spot one in the air AS SOON as he hears it


  • video games with Dada
  • carbs!
  • smoothies– I make him a strawberry, beet, banana, and blueberry smoothie almost every morning

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  • cooking
  • Shows: Mickey, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First (yes, the princess show), & Jake and the Never Land Pirates


  • bedtime/nap time
  • holding hands
  • being taken inside after playing outside



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