In any case, the child normally acquires the local language without difficulty, regardless of the degree or type of exposure to baby-talk.


The vocabulary of baby talk includes nonverbal sounds and slurred or simplified versions of ordinary words, but it also includes a vocabulary of its own. Some of these are handed down from parent to parent or invented by parents and are not known outside of a particular family, but others are more or less widespread.

A fair number of baby-talk and nursery words refer to bodily functions or private parts, partially because the words are easier to pronounce, partly to reduce adult discomfort when using them, and partly to make it possible for children to discuss these topics without breaking adult taboos.

Some examples of widely-used baby talk words and phrases that are not in standard dictionaries include:

  • Beddy-bye (go to bed)
  • Binkie (pacifier)
  • Boo-boo (small painful bump or bruise)
  • Bubby (brother)
  • Didee (diaper)
  • Din-din (dinner)
  • Doo-doo (feces, defecation)
  • Ickle (little)
  • Icky (disgusting)
  • Jammies (pajamas)
  • Nana (grandmother)
  • Pee-pee (urination; or penis)
  • Oopsie-daisy (or whoopsie-daisy) (small accident or fall; from "upside-down?"; or to be slightly tossed up in the air & caught by an adult)
  • Sissy (sister)
  • Stinky (soiled with feces)
  • Tinkle (urination)
  • Wee-wee (urination)
  • Widdle (little)
  • Yucky (disgusting)


  1. The novelist Booth Tarkington, in Seventeen, (1917) gives this example of baby talk; in this case, from a pet owner speaking to her dog:
    ...pressing her cheek to Flopit's, she changed her tone. "Izzum's ickle heart a-beatin' so floppity! Um's own mumsy make ums all right, um's p'eshus Flopit!"
  2. George Orwell, in Keep the Aspidistra Flying, (1936) gives us another example addressed to a pet dog:
    "A Peke, the ickle angel pet, wiv his gweat big soulful eyes and his ickle black nosie--oh so ducky-duck!"
  3. Punch, April 23, 1919, in a humorous piece purporting to pose examination questions on "the interesting language known as Bablingo," quizzes the examinee on items such as Wasums and didums, then? Was it a ickle birdie, then? Did he woz-a-woz, then; a Mum's own woz-man? and Did she try to hit her ickle bruzzer on his nosie-posie wiz a mug? Did she want to break him up into bitsy-witsies?