Toddlers are hard work, but damn are they cute—especially when they're mangling the English language. There is nothing more adorable than a new talker proudly mispronouncing and mixing up their words.
While some parents diligently correct the mistakes, others embrace and even reinforce creative toddlerisms as a way of keeping their little ones little for as long as possible. I definitely fall into the latter category, requiring everyone in my family to refer to my PC as the "compooter" because that’s what 2-year-old Chloe calls it.
Do you have a favorite word or phrase that your kids got so wrong it was right? When I posed that same question on social media, I received hundreds of responses from parents and grandparents, some of whom still remembered their top toddlerisms after many decades.
Not surprisingly, many related to food:
"My 4-year-old says ‘shamiches’ instead of sandwiches and I NEVER want her to stop." – Tracy K.
"We have 'pesketi' (spaghetti) in my house, and I can't bring myself to correct it." – Melissa S.
"My now 18-year-old daughter would call lasagna ‘lasagME.’ She would want some and say, ‘I don't want lasagnYOU, I want lasagnME!’ We let her call it that for years." - Jen H.
"This morning, we got doughnuts and my daughter said she liked her ‘apple critter.’" – Cathy W.
"My 3-year-old daughter insists grilled cheese is 'girl's cheese' despite my 6-year-old son arguing with her that it isn't." - Elizabeth G.
"My now 7-year-old daughter called watermelon ‘water-lemon’ and my now 11-year-old daughter called cantaloupe ‘lope-lope.’ As a family, we still call them that, too. LOL."– Amanda P.
"Croutons are ‘frootocks,’ as in, 'Mommy, the frootocks are my best part of the salad.'" – Amanda T.
"My son used to say 'pine-a-papple' for pineapple for the longest time. He's 5 and just started saying it correctly. I still call it 'pine-a-papple.'" – Libby M.
And one particular food caused the most trouble:
"My 2 1/2-year-old grandson calls strawberries 'strawbees.'" – Tami K.
"My twin toddlers can’t say 'berry' to save their lives, so it's 'strawbelly' and 'bluebelly.'" – Taylor A.
"My son calls strawberry 'oh baby.'" – Connie K.
"'Straw-be-days' for strawberries. That lasted a LONG time because it was so cute that we all started calling them 'straw-be-days.' I think she caught on to us at daycare and stopped." – Kathryn H.
"My nephew called strawberries 'straw babies.' He's 45 and we still sometimes call them that." – Laura S.
My daughter, when sick, always asked if she had a 'beaver.' Nope, but you do have a temperature of 102.
Toddlers are obsessed with things that go, but dang those are some long, hard words:
"'Motorpickle' for motorcycle. We loved it so much we all refer to them as 'motorpickles' now. LOL." – Allison W.
"'Ambliance' for ambulance! My husband’s a paramedic and every time we saw an ambulance he yelled 'that’s Daddy’s ambliance!'" – Donna D.
"Audrey used to say 'hockadoctor' for helicopter. Never corrected it." – Nicole Y.
"My granddaughter Haven likes to ride in the 'upelator.'" – Jan S.
As hard as we try to teach our toddlers the proper names for their private parts, we can’t always control what happens next:
"My daughter used to refer to being naked as being 'pootsie.' Not entirely sure where she made it up from, maybe it was a semi- rhyme of the word 'nudie'? She's in middle school now, and we all still call naked people 'pootsie.'" – Megan T
"My son called his nipples 'nibbles.'" – Kim V
"Buttcheeks were called 'buttjakes.' We actually tried to correct it but she INSISTED we were wrong and she was right. She still calls them that, although now she admits everyone else has buttcheeks and just she has 'buttjakes.'" – Gina B.
"When one of ours was little, he regularly confused junk with Johnson and called his own privates his 'junkson.'" – Jenny S.
“My 3-year-old says mommies have 'pachinas' and he calls his nipples 'meatballs.' TMI?” – Amy W.
Sometimes animals get new names. Other times, inanimate objects magically become animals:
"For a while all dogs were ‘umms’ and we still have a throw pillow we had made with a dog and the word 'Umm.'" – Jordan W.
"My daughter said 'babidoo' for dinosaur for over a year! We would say it correctly, but she consistently had her own word. I was so sad when she switched." – Jennifer G.
"My daughter thought any nocturnal animals were called 'knock knock turtles.'" – Andrea M.
"My daughter calls the elevator the 'alligator.' In fact, she did this yesterday in Whole Foods, announcing 'there were a lot of people in this alligator!'" – Marie R.
"Close the door so the 'giraffe' (draft) doesn't get in." – Anne C.
"When it is foggy outside, my daughter says, 'It's so froggy!'" – Cathy W.
"My daughter, when sick, always asked if she had a 'beaver.' Nope, but you do have a temperature of 102." – Paula T.
Famous names are even harder to master:
"In our house, the artist who famously used the splatter paint technique is known as 'Jackson Pull-Up.'" – Hannah D.
"My favorite is that she calls Theodore (from 'Alvin and the Chipmunks') 'Evillore.' As in, Alvin, Simon, Evillore. Gets me every time." – Leah C.
"Two classics from 'Star Wars' that apply to roughly 1000 percent of English-speaking children: 'Dark/Darf Vader' and 'Light Saver.' We have a policy in our house that the older kids are not allowed to correct the younger ones about these two. We accept it as a rite of passage for each child to come to his/her realization of the truth in due time. Kinda like Santa." – Jennifer T.
"'Obock Rowbama' for Barack Obama. Probably my favorite one ever." – Katie B.
My 19-month-old can’t say 'chips.' Instead she says, 'bitch.' The cashier was so offended at Whole Foods.
When toddlers get it wrong, they might get it really wrong:
"My 4-year-old son calls backhoes or tractors that dig 'hole-ers.' However, he pronounces it 'whores.'" – Kelly B.
"'Ass-nauts' instead of astronauts." – Jennifer M.
"My little brother reversed letters (as many littles do) so cookie was 'key-coo,' ambulance was 'ahmb-lee-ance' and firetruck was, well, 'tire-f***.' Now I thought this was HYSTERICAL and would carry around Hot Wheels firetrucks to pull out in public spaces, and my brother would scream in excitement 'tire-f***!' 'TIRE-F****!'" – Melanie B.
"My son, now 14, used to call Eeyore 'he whore.'" – Michelle K.
"My daughter would watch a video of a fox jumping into the snow and she cracked up each time she watched this video. To watch it again, she asked to see the 'fauck' video. Each time she said 'fauck,' my husband and I️ had to keep in our laughter." – Lauren W.
"My 19-month-old can’t say chips. Instead she says, 'bitch.' The cashier was so offended at Whole Foods." – Rachel T.
And then there's the category I call "Toddler Logic" because the words they come up with make way more sense than the real ones!
"My daughter called umbrellas 'hungbrellas' (they were hung on hooks by the front door).'" – Julie K.
"When my oldest was little, he would say 'take a bed' instead of go to bed. You take a nap, take a bath and take a bed. We encouraged it as long as we could." – Sarah M.
"My 2 1/2-year-old twins call bathing suits 'baby soup.'" – Taylor A.
"My son's name is Somer and he thought a somersault was what it was called when he did it, but if anyone else did a somersault he thought it was their name plus 'sault,' i.e. 'mommysault' or 'Amara-sault.' He’s 19 now and might still think that. I sure never corrected him!" – Carrie F.
"All my kids 'ham' nails in with a hammer and use 'bullets' on the bulletin board." – Andrea M.
"My little girl called her flip-flops 'clip-clops' and I was heartbroken when someone corrected her." – Julie S.
"My daughter called predators 'creditors' for a couple years—which is nearly the same." – Emma C.
"When my daughter was little, she called butterflies 'flutter-bys' (which makes more sense)!" – Jean C.
"Something breakable was 'fragible' or 'glassible.' Ah ... sweetness in words, y'all!" – Holly F.