Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cat vs Kitty

We're losing the fight of cat vs. kitty. Dear daughter's friend, who has been 1 year old for 2 days now says kitty. After daddy, bye, and die it's her most clearly spoken word. I have to admit it's cute when she comes over exclaiming "kitty, kitty" until she finds one of our 3 cats. The friend's daughter gets quite a reaction, naturally, from bystanders, of which my daughter may or may not be aware.

Language is one of the most exciting parts of raising the baby. This was one aspect I've been pondering and waiting to witness. I guessed correctly that one of dear daughter's favorite objects would be a cat. As soon as her vision kicked in--newborns can only see an arm's length and only in black and white--one of the first objects I watched her track was the black and white spotted cat. I had to place her strategically for her to notice the grey cat and the black cat.

I've been deliberately talking and speaking clearly to her since the first day. I chose the word cat to identify the cats because it was one syllable. I also hoped that since she's around adults and the adults she's with mainly use the word cat, it would be reinforced. I try to make things fun, but shun baby talk. While kitty isn't exactly baby talk, I just preferred the word cat from the start.

She watched the cats at first, then she mimicked their meowing. That was a fun surprise. I hadn't thought about the fact that the cat's throaty meows were easier to pronounce than the word cat. (She pants for dogs.) She loves the touch and feel books with bits of fur and other fun touchies pasted in the pages. I deliberately changed the text of one of her books saying cat every time instead of kitten. It was a touch and feel book all about kittens.

She's gaining control of her words now and can clearly say cat. She made quite a verbal leap last Wednesday that was exciting to witness. Her own command pleased her. The past few days, however, she's been favoring the word kitty. It's not as clear as her one-year-old friend, but the intonation is the same. I haven't heard her say cat in the past couple of days at all.

I didn't use the names of any of the cats at all until she clearly understood the word cat. I noticed that she uses the word kitty for the black and white cat, the cat we call Walter Kitty. (I even renamed him Walter Cat in the beginning of this baby adventure to be consistent. Didn't have the right ring and I gave that up months ago.)

What to do? What would you do?

For now, I'm still using cat and confirming, yes, that's a kitty. Next up: dog vs doggy...

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