Dad Tracks Son's First Words Since Birth Using Spreadsheets, Shows Exponential Growth

"I'll probably continue to track up to his second birthday."

Most parents document their kid's first words with a video or a diary entry. But dad Jon Jivan went a bit further than that. 


Jivan has been tracking all his son's first words since birth, compiling them into data points on a graph to illustrate the exponential growth.

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Jivan, who is a video producer, and apparent lover of spreadsheets, recently shared his results on Reddit under the username JonJivan, and the data is fascinating to parents and non-parents alike.

The graph shows Jivan's son's age, the number of words he has spoken, what the words are, and the cumulative number of times they have been spoken. As you can see, the first thing his son said was "uh oh" followed by "dada," "momma," and "kitty." "No" was one of the first words said, but "yes" isn't even in the top 100. 

He has collected data for over 100 unique words that his 19-month-old son has said.

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Jivan explained on Reddit that he uses manual tracking in a Google Sheets spreadsheet and renders the data visualization in Tableau. "All words recorded were said in context (not simply a parroting of sounds) and had to be witnessed by both myself and my wife for confirmation," he said. "Tracking his words in Google Sheets was convenient because I could pull up the spreadsheet on my phone every time we heard a new word."

He also explained that the words his son speaks don't have to be pronounced 100 percent correctly. "I did not go by perfect pronunciation, but it had to be about 75 percent there. There were many words I knew he was saying, but another person would likely not understand, even in context. For example, last night he was saying something that sounded like 'mayma' but he meant 'banana.' I would not count a word like this. But 'eh-bo' for 'elbow' was close enough, so it counted."

He adds, "It's certainly a bit subjective, but there are many words people don't pronounce 100 percent correctly as adults."

When Jivan began, he said that the first 10 words his son spoke were based off of a combination of video evidence and memory, but the other 90 are accurate to the day they were first spoken.

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As for how long he plans to continue, Jivan states he will probably track the data up to his son's second birthday. However, he points out that he was "starting to hit the limit to the amount of data that I thought was legible in this type of visualization."

The dad also revealed that he is expecting a second son in May, and he might track his data along with his older brother's.

While the data is clearly special to Jivan and his family, it has also impressed people including those who study math, human behavior, and language. One Reddit user wrote, "As a mathematician, that almost perfectly exponential growth is heartwarming."

Another commented, "As a behavior analyst using verbal behavior with kiddos with no language, this is such a great curve to see! Language explosion is so amazing!"

A Plus' Project Dad content is inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul's Project Dad, a television series about the joy of fatherhood and family. Watch an episode below.

Cover image via EvgeniiAnd I Shutterstock.


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