Toddler-to-English Dictionary

The writers at TopBlogMag, are writing on the theme, “What did you say?” Go over there and read other great posts! If you’d like to join in, you can get a link to your post on the TopBlogMag site.

I’ve never considered myself fluent in any other language than English. In college, studying voice, I learned to translate and pronounce Italian, Latin, French and German. I can carry on an elementary conversation in Spanish, with phrases such as:

“Donde esta el bano?” (Where is the bathroom?)
“Tu bebe es muy linda!” (You’re baby is very pretty!)
“Quiero el numero vente dos con refritos, y no arroz, por favor.” (I would like number 23 with beans, and no rice, please.)
And no, I did not look these up before posting today!

Just recently, I realized I am fluent in a foreign language. I can speak perfect Toddler-ese! My toddler, I call her Litttle Pea, after the Princess and the Pea, completely understands everything she says, while no one else has a clue. So, I find myself translating often. Here are a few entries in my Toddler-to-English Dictionary.

bubby: (n.) Baby, poopy, boobies, bra, or pacifier. You must recite the list back to her until you get a nod. (Don’t ask me why she would want a bra, but one time I found her waddling around with one around her neck like a scarf.)

wah wah: (n.) Water, juice, milk, or any other liquid suitable for drinking. Actually this also applies to moldy juice or congealed milk left in the car for any number of days.

nana: (n.) Banana, crackers, pinto beans, yogurt, or any other type of food. Banana was the first “food” word she said, so now she thinks all food is “nana.” Reciting the list of plain-view foods is the only way to decipher this word.

nnnnoo!!: (adv.) no, used to express refusal, denial, disbelief, emphasis, or disagreement. She picked up on this one very quickly. Go figure! (And yes, I did have to look up the part of speech for “no.” Well, did you know it?)

huh me: (full sentence) hold me. Beware, if this request is not accommodated, it will be repeated at ever increasing volumes until satisfied.

duh doo: (sentence) thank you, love you, or maybe tattoo, I’m not really sure?

“Ah ba bubby de da wah-wah do dah nana” This passage is open to interpretation. Some common translations include:

“The baby wants some juice and a banana.”
“I threw your bra in the toilet water with some crackers.”
“I poopied in the bath water because you fed me too many pinto beans!”

As you can see, Toddler-ese is very subjective and takes years to master. I hope this has given you some enlightenment in the area of this dialect. You may just surprise your friends by understanding their toddler’s ramblings.

Buh-Bah! I mean, bye bye!


About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)


  1. This definitely made me laugh…sounds like my nephew and your princess speak the same language!


  2. Coma Girl says:

    So funny!

    My daughter responds to “what does a dog/cat/cow/pig say?” with “kack kack” (quack, quack). Apparently all animals sound the same to her.


  3. Elizabeth F. says:

    OVer here at The Whole Family, we Baby Sign, so we get lots of looks at the grocery store and people ask if he is deaf. Apparently, some people are not aware of signing before speaking by babies! LOL!

    and the few spoken words we do have:

    Ma-Ma!!=Come here and get me food!
    BALL!!!!! (in loudest voice possible) in Walmart as we pass the big basket of balls
    Grunt-GRunt and point usually means drink or food

    And I still ahve issues with my 4.5 yr. old. I can’t understand him sometimes, so I have to get him to show me things. Like today, “Can I use my Tay?” Toy? Table? Taaaa? No! a TV Tray. T-R-A-Y!! So frustrating.


  4. SingForHim 94 @ Real Life says:

    I used signs with my first, and people used to ask me if she was deaf, too. She was really shy to speak to people, so she would sign “Thank You,” and they were always confused. The other 2 didn’t pick it up as well as the first, but they did the essentials.


  5. Surviving Motherhood says:

    I am very impressed that you know what these words mean.

    I haven’t a clue most of the time what Little Moo wants. but then, I’m not sure she does either.


  6. Awww…a very cute post! Yeah, it’s amazing what we understand and no one else can.

    I’ll see what I can do about getting you a copy of my hubby’s paper. It was really helpful to me as a voice instructor. : ) And thanks for coming back to my blog! : )


  7. mamabright says:

    that is TOO funny!!!

    blessings, mamabright 🙂


  8. Mama Zen says:

    Very funny! I wish that I had written down more of Baby Puppy’s “toddlerisms” for posterity!


  9. MorningSong says:

    Thanks for the laugh!! I enjoyed your toddler-ese. Of course, every toddler has their own language. 🙂


  10. Cute post! I like the passage open to interpretation. 🙂


  11. willblogforshoes says:

    I’m laughing out loud at the 3 interpretations of that sentence!


  12. Misssy M says:

    I’ve a degree in that! Both my kids couldn’t say K sounds (my four year old still can’t). I’ve been their official interpreters in my time. Unpaid of course.

    Lovely post. Came through the TopBlog Mag site. Have posted my own contribution, if you fancy a look.


  13. Thanks for the laugh this morning! I was thinking from last night about the horse, and how Courtney called them hoo-ha’s. So funny the words they come up with! For some reason, McK. called cheese “sicopasa” – we never could figure that one out! 🙂


  14. Anonymous says:

    I love the Toddler-ese. Isn’t it funny how the same word- I mean sounds have mulitple meanings and we actually understand them?? I always thought my friends were crazy when they understood their kids babble talk. I guess not because Marissa and I are on the same page.
    -Cousin Lauren



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