A Dictionary of Babble (Toddler Edition)


To the uninitiated, the twins’ babble might sounds like…babble. But I tell you, something essential has changed. Slowly, from out of the chatter, language is emerging. The words so far are mostly one-syllable interpretations of the world around them, but the list grows rapidly. For those of you venturing to toddler-land, or at least to our house, I’ve compiled here a Spacemonkey/Common English dictionary. Following are the words M and E, now 18 months, have down pat:

Ah!” (Hat): Especially fun to say while pointing at head in a questioning way, as in, “Why am I not wearing a hat? Please bring a hat,” then said more and more insistently until said hat appears. We’ve been having many meals wearing hats.

Awa” (Flower): When I walk in with an orchid bought on sale from Home Depot, E points and says excitedly, “Awa!” “Awa!”

Ba!” (Ball): Imagine E, holding a red ball, then yelling “BA!” and throwing it down forcefully. Balls are their favorite toy, and “ba!” is definitely their favorite word to say. They point out balls everywhere we go. Ba! Ba!

Mih” (Milk): I love the way M says this, with her four little beaver-teeth showing in the front when she enunciates the “ee.” E’s interpretation is closer to “mah.”

Wa” (Water): Thank goodness they can tell me when they’re thirsty. Major life improvement.

Chzz” (Cheese): Very important to be able to ask for cheese. M is particularly good at this one.

Bee” (Bird): Said while gesticulating wildly at sparrows chattering in a bush, or recently, M pointing out a hawk overhead, “Bee! Bee!”

Bee” (Bear): Distinguishable from ‘bee,’ bird, because pointing at a bear.

Na” (1) (Nose): I love the way E says this, curling up her nose into a very nasal ‘n’ while putting one finger on a nostril, “nnna.”

Na” (2) (Snow): Said while pointing out the window at snow. Or M, being carried out to the car in a light snow, her face lit up with joy, “Na! Na!”  and pointing all around.

Na” (3) (Snack): Said while making the universal hand sign for ‘more.’ Most often while sitting in stroller, occasionally while staring intently at whatever food you walk into the room eating.

Ma” and “Da,” (Mom, Dad): M has these down. In addition, E may also be saying “Ma” to refer to M (which is correct). E is also occasionally calling Daddy Ma, though, which makes me wonder if she thinks “Ma” means, “person I love” or “Person in the family”?

Da” (Duck): I remember when E was pointing to everything and calling it Duck… Now we’re in a different era where we know what a duck is, but there’s no more ‘k.’

Shz” (Shoes. Not to be confused with “Chzz”).

Ba-Ba” (Bye -bye): Said while waving goodbye, most often after person has already left the room and can no longer see.

Though maybe not proper words, sounds are definitely a forte. Following a list of sounds:

VROOM!” (Car): E does this with particular gusto.

BA BA,” (Sheep): Often E will point at a picture of a sheep, say “ba ba” and then start dancing–she’s waiting for you to start singing “Ba Ba Black Sheep.”

BA BA” (Chicken, ie “bock bock”)

WOOF” (Dog): This one was probably both of their first words. They would say “Woo Woo” whenever we’d pass a dog.

UH OH!“: This one is a new favorite.

BZZZ” (Bee)

AAA!” (Lion’s roar)

There are also the occasional moments where we think they are saying multiple words together. Yesterday, E crying and pointing to M who was playing with a ball, saying “Ma ba”…D and I look at each other. Did she just say “My ball?” Or M putting her hands in the air and saying “Pi Uh” (Pick up). Lately M likes putting both her hands in the air palm up, as if to say, “Who knows?” or “How funny is that?” and at the same time she chuckles to herself and babbles as if she’s telling a really funny story. This goes on for a long time sometimes at dinner.

We’ve been told by other parents that when kids learn to speak they can remember things from when they were a year old, before they knew how to talk. What will they say? How will they remember this time?


27 thoughts on “A Dictionary of Babble (Toddler Edition)

  1. I always loved listening and watching as each of my kids’ language developed. Each one slightly different. Funny story- we accidentally taught our kids that fingers was pingers because it was so cute when the older siblings said it and we stuck had with it without realizing that we had. Whoops…

  2. It’s funny how sounds get to be syllables which mean words and then complete words, then sentences. My kids ask me ‘when did I learn to talk?’ What were my first words. I should have them read this blog and they would understand why that is so hard to distinguish.

    • I know. I somehow thought when babies learned to talk there was some sort of obvious, aha moment in which they uttered their first word, and then after that somewhere a first sentence moment? Doesn’t make any sense when I think about it now.

  3. How sweet…I remember these days….so many new things..they really make the world interesting to discover all over again!

  4. Wow, they are accumulating language really quickly. This has all apparently been in the last month! Some of the language is so adorable you almost hate to let them progress to the actual pronunciations. I still remember “fioh” for “flower.” Fioh seems so creative and fresh.

  5. so that was very expressive and wonderful…reminded me of my first grandchild at that age who said “WOW!!!!!!!!” whenever she was at a loss for words…:)

  6. Love those sweet little faces! How cute!!! baby talk is the best! I remember when my oldest daughter used to call a monkey a yee yee!!! melts my heart!

  7. ““Bee” (Bear): Distinguishable from ‘bee,’ bird, because pointing at a bear.”

    LOL. Also the bit where they have a completely separate word for “bee” 🙂 I love early toddler talk, mostly because it does indeed signal a downturn in incomprehensible wailing (the benefits of being able to say you’re thirsty, and so on!)

  8. Love this list. My twins have about three words, mama, dada, and “ooh” for woof. Mama and dada were definitely first but “ooh” is their favorite. Just say anything about a dog, puppy, or make a woof sound and they’ll say it for a whole minute while looking around for it.

    • Those are all very important words. Maybe babies are just fascinated by animals and dogs are the ones they tend to encounter first? We don’t have a dog, but M and E get pretty excited whenever we see one anywhere.

      • We technically have a dog but its living with my in-laws for now. V refers cats over dogs in person but responds to dog-related things more when not looking at the animals.

  9. Makes me nostalgic for when my sons were toddlers. My oldest used to point at the ceiling and say, “Zoh!!” My husband and I had no idea what that meant. The other day we asked if he remembered what that was. He looked at us like we were crazy. “No idea,” he said and then went out to buy beer. Sigh.

    • Ha. Your comment almost makes me nostalgic for this toddler time and we’re living through it right now (if that makes sense). Time sure flies, and it’s funny the things that stick with us. “Zoh,” though, I like it 🙂 Thanks for commenting! I’ll have to check out your blog.

  10. For some reason, ‘Chzz’ just cracked me up more than anything else on the list. Perhaps just because it’s not one I’ve heard with my siblings. Or maybe it’s because I can imagine them saying it, fiercely in their precious little voices.

    They are so cute and thank you for letting us all have a glimpse at it!

    • Thank you for your comment! Yes it’s funny, now they are speaking in complete sentences and I don’t quite know how they went from this to that! Thank you for stopping by. I haven’t updated the blog in a long time, but maybe I will get back to it.

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