Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why You Shouldn’t Use Baby Talk When Speaking to Your Children About Their Bodies

By: Molly Luke, Early Intervention Specialized Instruction Teacher, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, Norristown, PA

At age 29 I gave birth to a beautiful little boy. The first weeks were exhausting to say the least. My husband and I were sleep deprived, hungry, and it felt like we constantly had a revolving door with family in to visit the newest member of the family. And along with all of those initial parent experiences, my husband and I were making first time decisions as parents! When to feed the baby, how many baths a week to give the baby, who gets the baby next when he cries, should we start putting him in the crib…and then, what do we call his private parts? This makes me laugh, but triggers a larger discussion that I believe is important for all parents, whether first timers or season pros.



Everyone goes gaga for babies, but that doesn’t mean you need to talk that way to them. Baby talk can be a great way for newborns and infants to learn what words sound like (“Whooooo is that prettttttty baaaaabaaay?”) but when it comes time to get serious with our body parts, it is just as important to go straight to the real name for a penis or vagina just as it is to call your nose and toes by their proper names.

Maybe my parents were just not comfortable with themselves to discuss the body with me OR maybe their families raised them shy of these discussions as well. Regardless, this was my turn to hold the reigns and make decision for my growing family. Many pediatricians urge parents to use proper terms for body parts to children for a number of reasons but the big one is so that we all know exactly what a child is talking about should there be a problem with that certain area.

So my husband and I decided that we shouldn’t shy our son from his body and these words were not of a laughing matter. We would use REAL names from the beginning so that we got comfortable with saying these words aloud and hopefully this will make things more comfortable down the road when we need to speak about sex to our son.


Now our house was filled with dirty diapers, couch naps, cries and PENIS talk. At first we just laughed when describing the inch sized penis when changing his diaper, but now the word just rolls off our tongues in a professional parenting manner when potty training our son. The comfort has set in and the giggles fizzled away. My mother still has a hard time with this. When babysitting him in the beginning and now, she still talks “baby talk”. The nonsense words used to label food and body parts drive me up the wall. Not that I don’t spoil and act silly with my now 3 year old, but my husband and I just have an honest way when talking to him. No bribing, no nonsense terms (i.e. “wawa” for water)…and some family members still have a hard time accepting this and playing by the “rules”.

We all travel through these developmental stages. Some ideas are more stressed and pinpointed from certain theorists than others. Regardless, as we grow our minds and bodies grow as well. It’s up to us and our surroundings if we can accept and acknowledge what occurs, and how we adjust and mature. As a parent, I am trying to make this growth as “normal” to other every day routines. This way when my family is at an age and stage where support is needed, some of the stress from words and terms will be familiar and hopefully I can pass on as much comfort as he needs.

Choosy Kids has a bunch of songs about your body. To name a few, you can check out:

  • This Is My Body
  • I'm The Boss
  • When I Move My Parts
Purchase the CDs at www.choosykids.com.


About the Author: Hello! I have been teaching for about 10 years now, ages Pre-K through 8th grade…needless to say, I am a life-long learner and always looking for new thing to challenge my body and brain to do in a classroom! Outside of the classroom, family comes first! My husband Dan, baby Marshall and basset hound Penelope enjoy my naturally caffeinated personality on a regular basis. The whole family enjoys traveling, and I personally have a goal of visiting all 7 continents! 2 more to go! 

18 comments :

  1. I don't think "baby talk" is a bad thing but I can see where you're coming from in this instance.

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  3. I completely agree. Call your parts by their name. There's plenty of time for them to learn slang terms when they get older. lol

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  4. I think this is a really great idea. I want me kids to grow up knowing the name of the part. I think it's safer for kids to not baby them, especially with something this important.

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  5. It's better to skip the baby talk than to continue with it until it's too late. I think it makes great sense, especially since they'll get to know their body better and learn along the way.

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  6. I can definitely understand how it's important to talk about body parts in a more direct manner. I think this is a good strategy.

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  7. Oh, I remember when my son is a little bit younger. He is now turning three and knows a lot, we never baby talk him.

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  8. I like this thoughts! I remember my son, I keep talking to him normally and I avoid baby talk all the time.

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  9. I always taught my kids the proper terms for their privates. There is no shame in using the right terms when talking about the body with them. I also talk about keeping them private and only showing it to mom, dad, or Dr.

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  10. I completely agree with this. I never liked talking in baby talk. I thought you should always talk in your normal voice. This is a great post to teach those about talking normally around everyone.

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  11. I totally agree with you with skipping the baby talk when you are teaching your child. That way they will learn the correct word and how to say it correctly.

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  12. With having kids that have speech problems I throw baby talk out the window after 1 year old. They need to know how to speak properly and say the right things to be able to hold a conversation with peers and especially if something bad happens to them.

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  13. I totally agree...let them know from early before someone else introduces them

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  14. I agree. :) I never do baby talk, not even with my infant. And I insist my daughter calls ALL parts of her body by their correct terminology.

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  15. I agree that is important to build our children's vocabulary as they model the sounds they hear from us. I speak to mine in different languages so their ears get use to the sounds and phonemic difference .

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  16. I agree that is important to build our children's vocabulary as they model the sounds they hear from us. I speak to mine in different languages so their ears get use to the sounds and phonemic difference .

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  17. I very much agree that Baby talk can be used for newborns and infants to learn some new words & teach them something in a fun way. But when it is about a serious topic you need to be serious as well. Choosy Kids sounds like a great idea as such songs could explain about their body parts so easily when we feel a bit uneasy!

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    ReplyDelete

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