From the Management

More than words

Noah doesn't smell like a baby anymore.

I don't know when it happened -- but at some point, despite using the same old lavendar soap and powder and Desitin, he lost that baby smell. His head smells like hair, and his skin has taken on a new scent -- one I can't describe, because it's just his smell now, a combination of lotion and detergent and body chemistry. In a way it's even better than that baby smell, because it's Noah, the fully-formed little person version. It's like the way I can sort of smell Jason just by thinking about him, and the way I remember what my mom and dad smell like, and exactly three of my ex-boyfriends.

He doesn't look like a baby anymore either.

He's still got a round little belly and dimples on his fingers and elbows, but everything else is lean and undeniably boyish. His little bow legs have straightened out and the chubby thighs have vanished into muscle, and a thin coat of blond hair is growing in. I look at photos from just a few months ago and am floored by how different he looks now.

I want to dress him in feetie pajamas and onesies with teddy bears on him, but the only things that fit him have monster trucks and dinosaurs on them. So I let him run around naked instead, just so I can be reminded that his butt still has dimples on it.

He points at everything, and talks non-stop, but I never know whether he's trying to tell me if he wants something or if he just wants me to help label his world. "Mmmmeh! Eeennnneh!" he shrieks, pointing at some vague spot above my head, as I flip through the possibilities:  You want up? You want to go over there? Upstairs? Ceiling? Light? Crown molding?

I don't think I ever get it right. He'll stand before me and talk very emphatically, with hand gestures and everything, and I hand him some juice and hope I was close. He'll sigh and accept it, while his eyes remain fixed on the refrigerator, envisioning the thing he really wanted instead.

I've never been good at understanding little kids -- to me even the Bilingual Sign Language Genius Child at Gymboree sounds like "Be ba be uh," and everyone around me shrieks and translates it as "Bye bye baby," and then I wonder if I'm missing words in all of Noah's chatter.  I've heard mothers brag that they're the only ones who can understand their toddler's speech, and I always hoped it was one of those things that you just instinctually figure out, so in a way it's comforting to tell myself that he's just not talking yet.

The other night he woke up around midnight. I went into his room expecting some cranky crocodile tears but found the real thing. His face was wet and his shoulders shook while he sobbed. As usual, I didn't have a clue and flipped through the possibilities -- bad dream? teeth? fever?  -- until I just gave up on the whys and took him back to bed with me.

He curled up next to me and sniffled and sighed for a bit. He didn't want me to sing or speak, but after a few minutes of spooning together he went back to sleep. I smelled his hair and fell asleep.

One day, very soon, it will take a lot more than that. I'll have to explain why we have bad dreams and why we get sick; why people are cruel and why people we love sometimes die. I'll have to explain why we don't say certain words and figure out what to tell him about the book of Bible stories on his shelf.

I don't what I'm going to say when that day comes, so in a way it's comforting to tell myself that he's just not talking yet.

Chatter on Vimeo



He is just the most adorable little boy! As Austin sits here next to me eating him lunch, I'm reading your post and nodding my head in agreement. Sometimes it seems that people just don't get it, that time goes by so fast. Our little babies become little boys before they become atleast we have that to look forward to! Beautiful Post Amy!


It's certainly not English, but who's to say it isn't something more exciting, say, Mandarin?


So what I do is just pick up my son and put him close to the refrigerator and say show me and then he points to whatever he is trying to verbalize. Works like a charm. I do it everywhere, point to the ceiling fan, molding, ect. By the way thanks for making me go smell my son and see he doesn't smell like baby anymore either.


You can do it! Pretty soon he'll be making more sense and then you'll have to start saying "No" a lot more.


That is too cute. My son is about the same age and does the same thing. I can't understand alot, but I'm starting to pick up phrases from the movie "Cars." Can you say addiction? Don't you love babyish?


that was seriously beautiful.
as always.


I feel you. I have an 8YO boy, and now, a 5 wk old boy. I've got tons of explaining to do (and have done) with the 8YO about life. Then...gonna explain it all again.

Noah's not talking yet. Well, he IS. But it's Noahspeak. Just wait! For me, that's when things get really interesting, and stimulating, and scary, and FUN.


I feel you. I have an 8YO boy, and now, a 5 wk old boy. I've got tons of explaining to do (and have done) with the 8YO about life. Then...gonna explain it all again.

Noah's not talking yet. Well, he IS. But it's Noahspeak. Just wait! For me, that's when things get really interesting, and stimulating, and scary, and FUN.


Very sweet. I'd actually sort of forgotten that phase of baby language. We speak teen speak at our house now!


No matter what, even if you don't know what he wants (or can't understand), you will always be the one that will be able to fix it. You are the all powerful Mommy. :)

He has grown up so much. I started reading your site when you were about 3 months pregnant...amazing how time flies. He is a very cute little boy!


You have a very smart little boy there he looked at you like you were crazy telling him night night when he can clearly see it is still daylight outside. SOOOO CUTE!!


So stinkin' cute!! Love it!!

Amy H

dang it. I was hoping that understanding what kids say was instinctual with your own child. sigh. I can never understand kids either so I guess I will be in the same boat when Avery starts talking.
This is a beautiful post. I sniff Avery's head every day and soak in her baby smell. I am not looking forward to the day that i sniff her head and it doesn't smell like baby anymore.

Children's Place sells footie jammies up to size 4, I think. At some point, though, I think they start to look like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. :-)


SO cute! It seemed like when you asked 'Night, night? Noah turned around and looked outside like - "Ma, what're you smokin'? It's still light outside!"


Luvre hearing his voices.


He's still so cute I could eat him!!


Felix speaks exactly the same language as Noah! I have no idea what he is saying most of the time, and like you, I do my best to guess. My husband and mother-in-law seem to understand everything but I just think they are making it up...

Either way, I love the sound of the babble.


De-lurking to say that Noah is beautiful, and I'm sure in all his chatter he is saying how much he loves you, and that you are the prettiest mommy at Gymboree, and you are his own Queen of Everything!


So sweet. And there are so many times that you don't know what they are saying. You have to read the mystery that was chicken wipes and peemo boat at Antique Mommy:

It took me a MONTH to figure out that do-drah was for drawing which crayons! My son is 2 1/2 now and the words come faster than I can absorb. Most days I am floored that he knows a particular word and how to use it.


Beautiful post.

And, on a lighter note, I love how toddlers always seem like they're a bit tipsy. Love it. Want one.


He's awesome. You should be very, very proud.


I understood every single word. To translate:

" Help! My name is Noah. My Mother doesn't understand me, my dog dresses weird, I have been stuck behind a dressing table for days in a blue room that I hate, and the gate....oh, don't even let me start on that gate! Please send reinforcements before she takes me back to Gymboree one more time"

I can't figure out why you didn't get all that.


I love how at around :19 he tapers off the chatter as a person would when they realized no one was paying attention. Like "So yeah, I got these new shoes and you're.. not.. listening OK then! Moving right along!"

Ok, that probably didn't make any sense at all. But I swear that's what it sounds like.

Your child is so freaking awesome. Everytime I comment I say that, but seriously, it's true. Also, I doubt you get tired of hearing it so I'm just gonna keep saying it.


Too adorable!! I noticed too how he turns around to check out the daylight when you want him to say "nigh nigh" to the camera. What a smart little cookie he is ;)

Heather B.

So your post got me thinking that 'wow one day he'll even question such fun things as skin color and that will be a treat' and so we won't go there.

But yeah, so far so good, he's a joy even when he gives me the look of death and hatred, I still love him.


I came here to laugh so why am I now almost crying? I'm going to go snuggle my chubby, cooing 2 month old boy while I still can!!


I was late this week and had the brief terror of thinking I might be pregnant. But my period came this morning. Posts like this let me see the magic beyond the terror. Now reading this is making me kind of wistful.


Beautiful post. I love his range of low to high and back, meandering through the octaves...just chattin' away. And yes, he totally said "night night!" Brilliant!


Oh, the transition from Baby Smell to Little Boy Smell! I remember those days. Enjoy them, because not far away is the transition from Little Boy Smell to full-blown Big Boy Smell.

And it's not pretty.


and watching the video DEFINITELY makes me wistful. Please stop posting videos of your adorable child until after I finish grad school (May! May, you can post a video in May)

melissa b.

He's adorable!

Luckily, he won't ask those all in the same day and you get a breather (usually! I have no idea!) in between them!

At 12, a snuggle still soothes my son. I'm still waiting for him to outgrow it.


Just wait until you tell him "night night" and he tells you "no", like mine does. Sigh. I miss those sweet baby days.


that was an amazingly beautiful post, and why you are such a good blogger. I feel the same way about my son, but could never say it in those words.

If it makes you feel any better, my 22 month looked at the screen and said Baby. So he is still a baby to some.

He'll talk, and you'll understand, and it will never end. Every 5 minutes I get, No Mommy, I play cow, (his stuffed rocking horse), when we need to leave, when we need to eat, when it's bed time. Sometime it is better to not know what they want.


Very, very cute.


It would be worth making a trip to DC just to cuddle that little punkinhead. How stinkin cute is he, huh?

Alison and I watched the video several times during which she said, "baahhhbeeee", which means baby, and "er-gluh- mee-ahh-dooooo" which means Noah is totally cute even with the owie by his eye.


And if you just slather him up in the Country Bunny Baby Lotion, you can delude yourself a while longer that he is still a tiny tot. That's what I do with Alison.

Amy M

He's gorgeous! I was hoping the Mommy instinct kicked in for translating. Thanks for ripping that dream away from me! My 11-m.o. says "deedle deedle" a lot. I was hoping for a baby-English dictionary for Christmas.


We took some video of our son when he was a little more than 1 year old.

About 8 months later, I was watching the video.

You could hear me and my husband saying, "Hi there! Hi!" n the background.

And our son, who was in the frame of the video, was saying clear as day back to us, "CHEESE!" because we were holding the camera.

"Cheese! CHEESE!" he kept saying.

And we just kept saying, "Hi there! Oh yes, hellooooo!"

We couldn't understand it at the time, but it was clear as effing DAY to me when I watched it months later.

So yeah, maybe Noah is saying lots of stuff and you just can't tell yet. :-)


He's definitely saying "Mom, I know you miss your job. But, I'm glad you're here." Definitely.


What even he is saying he is adorable. I just started understanding what my toddler is saying and I am like 3 months ahead of you. It will come with time.




Your voice sounds eerily like my own.

And also I really loved this entry.


I couldn't have said it better!
Having this walking talking person is so strange!
My daughter also talks all the time. She is now 20 months old and I can understand about 80% of what she says, but those 20% that I don't get could be in Chinese for all I know. I hate it when she looks at me so expectantly and I have NO clue what she said.
You'll understand him soon enough, and then you can be that mom who "translates" for him in front of others. But then you won't be able to pretend you didn't understand what he asked for!


That was precious!

And I am so with ktbug, he totally turned around, saw that it was light outside still, and clearly said "no night, night".
Little dude!


was that the Declaration of Independence he was reciting?


He is so cute!


Want. To eat him. With a spoon.

Seriously, the Cute, it burns!


What a sweet post! My son Payton is only 15 days older than Noah and he's at the same cave-baby talking stage.

Actually, Payton's mostly a pointer. And when he points he goes, "eennnhhhh?" which always comes out sounding like a question. Or like he's British. So I usually get the impression that he's either asking if he can have whatever he's pointing at or he's asking what something is called. It can be frustrating for both of us.

I've also noticed that his legs are no longer baby smooth because of those little blond hairs and his morning breath no longer smells like baby breath. :(


Goodness, he's beautiful! Why can't the aging process just SLOW DOWN.

But y'know, I'm pretty sure at the 26 second mark he says he would "love a brownie".


I love baby chatter. And look on the bright side -- as long as he isn't talking, he isn't talking back.

I did always love figuring out the secret baby language. Then I knew what they were saying and no one else did. Next time, carry him over to where he's pointing and ask him to show you. Then you, too, will learn the secret language of your baby.

( I do agree that he was saying you are the prettiest mommy at Gymboree and he is the luckiest boy to have you and Jason.)


So cute I watched it twice. So far.


To make you feel better. Noel's verblizing his words. It's normal. He's learning to distingiush sounds from each other, and notice familar syllables and patterns. They also have a sense for tone, which conveys emotion. They see facial expressions and begins to assign them meaning, as well. They are a learning machine!

Once it all comes together....he'll be talking!!

Non-stop! Enjoy his chatters! He's a cutie!


Ah, isn't it so sweet to bring them into bed with you? Time, that old enemy, making them old before our eyes. *sob*

Miss W

I love that you ask him to say night night and he looks out the window as if to say, "Woman, you fool! It's DAYTIME!"


I kind of read this and thought, "This entry. It's so perfect. What's the point of me continuing to write, when THIS type of stuff has already been created?"

Seriously, Amy. I felt every single stab of pain that Noah is growing up, and clung to every hope that he will still stay a baby for a bit longer.

Well done.


The other night my 3 year old said "Mommy, can you take my dreams?" It broke my heart that I couldn't say "Yes, I will!"


Sounds to me like he has "night, night" down, and I definitely heard "Mama" towards the end.

My daughter's favorite word is "dat," which as far as we can tell, means everything under the sun. It's great, though, when you do finally figure out what she's trying to say. She gets all giggly and claps her hands, so proud that she can get her point across.


My son is 19. I don't know what he's saying, either. That's b/c they stop moving their lips, at some point. What I do hear is, of course, "I need money." I pretend I don't understand what he wants, and give him juice.


damnit. I was hoping this was an ode to Extreme post.


the pre-talk chatter is the best. enjoy not understanding it while you still can (or can't)


i am 10 weeks pregnant and this post totally made me cry. i'll feel blessed if my baby is even a smidge as precious as your noah.


what an absolutely beautiful piece.

Maxine Dangerous

I babysat a three-year old once who asked for "green balls" at a buffet and got progressly more upset with every wrong guess I made. Peas? No. Grapes? No. I went as far as broccoli in a moment of it's-sort-of-round panic. (I was then told, in a huff, that those were TREES -- God, stupid babysitter!). FINALLY, green balls were revealed to be brussel sprouts. BRUSSEL SPROUTS, PEOPLE. I thought kids were supposed to hate those. I was closing in on 17 then and *I* hated them.

Chiming in with the rest: Noah is beautiful and adorable. Also, the mention of "big boy smell" takes me back to the horror of my 12-year-old brother's room. No AC. He slept with no sheets on his bed. In the summer. WITH HIS DOG. Aiiiiieeeee. *wistful smile*


sweet jeebus, woman. I watched that video, and wanted to RUN, not walk, RUNNNNNNNN into my kids room, get them both out of bed and smell them and smoosh them and get them to talk.

SO cute.

By the by, I haven't a clue what my daughter says, even at 18 months old. I like to THINK I know, but I have no idea. And, I think it's ok that way.


yeah, i really liked how he checked outside to see if really was "night night".

such a cutie

Kirsten McCrann

I wore footie PJs until I was eight I think, because I liked them. And I'm sure they are made better and more comfortable now. And my nephew never spoke an understandable word until he was almost three but he was trying to tell us novels of information for a year and a half before that. Noah's Ni-ni is too precious.


He is adorable! Kaitlyn doesn't chatter yet, she pretty much just says "Da. Da. DADADADA!" which means either 1. she wants to talk to Daddy on the phone 2. the dog has just entered the room 3. she wants whatever it is that she is pointing at. Except she doesn't actually point, she just raises her arm towards whatever it is. And then I have to do like you said, start guessing what she is looking at-tonight it was the lampshade. I love one year olds!

Aishah Moen

Do you ever find yourself trying to smell Noahs 'no longer baby' breath? I take all the chances i can get! When i see Ilhans mouth open while he's sleeping, i put my nose right up to his mouth and take it in! It's the best! Smelly but the best!


I love the thumb...kind of sucking, kind of biting, kind of DARLING.

Jenn T.

That baby smell thing going away? That means it's time to have another baby. Seriously. I remember seeing a show on Discovery about babies & when they lose that baby smell & baby feel and the whole "I have to kiss you on the head right this second," and it's natures way of letting you let them grow up & you focus on having another baby. Tick tock! It's time!


If it makes you feel better, my 12 yo and 10 yo had (and wore on occasion!) footie pajamas with polar bears on them until just this last year!

I love the Noah-speak! Took me right back to when my kids did the same...don't worry - you aren't "missing" any words yet! They'll start emerging from the babble soon...


aww is all I can say :)


Oh my ovaries hurt. I want a baby.

Samantha Jo Campen

I listened to it twenty million times.

Miss Britt

I should warn you - I don't know if that's his own real smell yet.

When they get about six they go through this terribly stinky phase. What they come out smelling like on the other side is WAYYY more boyish than what they went into it with. :-(


Sometimes it is just the kiddo. I could translate every grunt of my first born. My second... japanese. No idea. Loving him and trying your best makes you the best mom for Noah. Cheers, Steph
PS- Just wait till you have to explain kissing...mwa ha ha.

Teacher Lady

He totally said "night-night" and I LOVE how he had that little curl (or bed head?) on the back of his little boy head when he turned around.

And you sound EXACTLY like I thought you would!


I hate to say it, but the smell gets worse. They will start to smell like Stinky Boy (what I'm dealing with now). I am going to die with the introduction of Teenage Boy B.O. I WILL DIE.
(Also, I still sometimes don't understand my kids' speak but I smile and nod because they shut up quicker that way.)


*sob* I had to go immediately into my sleeping five months olds room and nuzzle in for a deep breath of baby scent. I read your blog and appreciate each and every thing about my baby boy a little more knowing how fast he is going to grow up.

Noah is delightful and I am so glad you are willing to share him with all of us.


am i the only one commenting here proclaiming, "sometimes being a mom can both suck and on the other hand be quite a
heartbreaking experience?" yeah, i'm here commenting to keep it real....

in other words, hug your baby tight! each stage is more precious than the last. i promise!


Wow, what an amazingly beautiful post. And Noah, of course is gorgeous. He totally sounds like he is singing, up and down the scale. Awesome!!


What a cute video and great post, I really like this kind.

It's funny, when I heard your voice it was shocking, and I realised why--all this time the voice that's been reading your posts in my head is one I made up, and it turns out that you have your own! ;)

That probably sounds really strange, but there you go.


You child seriously makes me reconsider my life long desire not to have children. He is just too cute.


Sadly, I can't watch the video here from work, but you better believe that it's the first thing I'm going to do when I get home. Your post was so sweet, and so caring, it made me start to cry. And like Sean said, I use to never want to have kids, but now I'm getting to the point where I do want kids some day... this post made me want to have kids even more, as many of your other posts have.


That was so cute! I love baby babble. For the most part I don't understand it, but I love to watch them babble away like they are explaining something very profound.

And other people have to tell me when my son says something because I never pick up on it. The only thing I was able to catch was "uh-oh" and that happens to be the only thing he can say clearly.


So cute! I also have alot of translating to do at my house--thanks for sharing!


Soon, he'll spew forth a slew of words, and when you don't fully understand, he'll grab you by the ears, holding your head very still. He'll lean in, and say the very same thing. Louder. And slower. As if you're new to the country.

And you probably still won't get it.


Oh that really takes me back. My baby turns three on Monday. No more sweet babbling like that. Night night.


You may not be able to fully understand Noah, but apparently my 4-month old daughter can. I was nursing her when I watched the video and the sound of him talking made her look up at me and GRIN. Once she figured out it wasn't me making the noises, she began to look around for the source. Noah already has a way with the ladies!

Cynthia Samuels

I so remember that change with each child. Even worse for me was when the baby hair didn't feel like baby hair -- just big kid's. The only think I can tell you from the other end of this journey is that our kids become remarkable adults -- a thrilling gift. Each change is scary and each change is exciting and besides --- inevitable -- so just trust your gut and try to enjoy the journey....

Katie Kat

Man, he's cute. He's about the same age as my little girl, and I LOVE listening to her babbling! They are so SURE they are talking, but there is just no way to understand!

I was totally cracking up because when you say "Wanna go night night?" Noah turns around and looks outside like "What the hell? It's not dark outside woman. You have obviously flipped your lid."

And, by the way, he looks EXACTLY like you in the picture on your homepage! (Well, without the dress and curly hair...) :)


I can't believe what a perfect fusion of you and Jason Noah has become. He is an absolutely gorgeous ... little boy (*weep*).


What? He's reciting Hamlet. You didn't get that?

That's one of my fears, too, that if and when I have children, I won't understand them. But then, I clearly understand what my cat is telling me, so maybe it will come? I just don't know....


I am currently 10 weeks pregnant and this post (and many other of your posts) makes me SUPER excited about my little bean in my belly! I can't wait to get to hear their little voice and smell that disappearing-all-too-soon baby smell! I could just eat Noah, he's so cute!


You'll understand him soon enough. He's only ONE. Don't be so hard on yourself. Also, when mine would chatter like that, I'd chatter back, and we would totally carry on a "conversation." We would both get the biggest ick out of it. Worked like a charm. When they wnat something, it can be frustrating not understanding, but if you point to things, or show him things while saying the name of the item, that might help!


OOPS-meant to say KICK out of it, not ick out of it.


I always smell my son's feet...even though his is five now and they really can stink, I think they always smell wonderful. He thinks it is so funny and one day said "when will you stop smelling my feet? When I am a man and have hair under my arms like daddy?" I never imagined how special the Mom/Son bond could will continue to be amazed.


I think he just likes to hear all the cool sounds he can now make...A-E-I-O-Uuuuuu Now isn't that still fun to say?

When you said is it time for nite-nite, seems like Noah looks outside, see's that it is in now way dark and is having none of this nite-nite talk!


Mmm..meant to say "is in no way dark"


I am really good at understanding toddler gibberish. What Noah was actually doing was reciting one of the soliloquys from Hamlet. It was the one about 'to sleep perchance to dream'. He is so talented!


Awww! So sweet! My little monkey's a chatterbox like that, too. It's adorable. She's 17 months and still smells like a baby -- at least right now...'scuse me while I go change a diaper. PeeEWWWW!

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