The bilingual child

I have this sudden anxiety of Zayan’s language development. I am aware vaguely that he has not developed any real meaningful words, not even mama or ayah. I kept saying mama to him and pointing to myself, but he looks at me with this smile. Macam “you funny, mama!”. As for saying ayah, he does say ‘yah’ but I’m not sure if he really meant his ayah. He likes to grab anything that is a phone or phone-like (like the remote) and pretends he’s on the phone. And he goes ‘yah! yah!’ cos I like to say to him ‘say hi ayah! hi ayah!’. And perhaps once or twice, he can say hi/hello ‘hai! hewo!’ whenever pretending to be on the phone.

I didnt really feel anxious before with his development cos he’s being more and more receptive these days. We can have a lil joke together (ie for example when I make funny actions with a ball – he’s SO easy to amuse -, he’ll bring his other balls for me to act on). And sometimes when I point at things, he’ll bring it to me. Other times he’ll point at it jua and babbles macam ‘THIS? You want this kah? Are you sure?’. then i go, awu awu bring it here! And he’ll point at it again and babbling with the some intonation. Macam sengaja ada jua, playing the ‘I dont know anything’ baby card.

He can understand commands/instructions like bye2, stop and no. Though I think I say no and wag my finger too many times at him cos whenever he does something he shouldn’t do* and I just go ‘ZAYAN!’, he turns to me and wag HIS finger! Ish!

*Things he shouldn’t do but keeps doing:
Climbing up onto his baby chair
Flapping the curtain and tali curtain
Flipping open his nappy bin cover
Attempt to rummage through the living room’s bin
Unfolding the laundry
Tipping over his bottle of milk…..
…. amongst other things.

SO anyway, I was reading this blog of this girl who has a son Zayan’s age. And the baby can say three-four meaningful words! So erm….I know he’ll get THERE eventually but I do want to help him to learn to talk. And also at the moment, I speak mixed english/malay with him, kinda like how I talk to friends and my brothers/cousins. I use main words like makan, tidur, minum, susu almost always and M does too. But I’m just scared he gets confused with all the languages.

Plus I’m not sure what Aita (his childminder) speaks to him in. I know her family drop by from time to time and they speak italian and her mum speaks italian to zayan. Zayan is also called Zayanino there, which I find cute. (‘nino’ means little. Like bambino! Little baby!) And there’s a french girl there too, 2 year old, always having dolls with her and she speaks french to the childminder and zayan.

All in all, this can go two ways: it will help him loads cognitively and he’ll absorb languages better as he gets older or he’ll have a much delayed language development!

I guess I should be more monolingual to him (speaking more malay) and just repeat the same words all the time. should i be worried? Any tips out there to help Zayanino speak?

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