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Understanding toddlers at all — let alone toddler speech — is a true challenge.

Most parents have mastered their own toddler’s speech (within reason), but if a grandparent, friend, or neighbor wants to understand what a toddler is saying… Good luck!

To help with this herculean task, I’ve developed a Toddler Translation Guide. Like every parenting resource, this guide is incomplete and likely to shift from extremely helpful to completely useless at a moment’s notice.

Without further ado…

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Let’s check out the Toddler Translation Guide!

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Baby Wan Dat

The toddler is the baby (but don’t you dare call him that. You must refer to him only as a big boy).

And he wants that.

What exactly is “that”? Well, that’s another part of the toddler translation equation that I can’t help you with. For starters, I suggest checking out anything sharp, poisonous, or messy. Those are your most likely answers.

If that fails, look for anything anyone else is holding.

No Wan Dat

The baby big boy doesn’t want that anymore. Yes, I know he just asked you for it. Yes, I know you just got it for him. Toddlers don’t care. Surely you’ve figured this out by now!

Baby Me Too

You can’t leave a toddler out of anything. If the older siblings are doing it, well, the toddler better be too. If not, be prepared to feel the rage.

It doesn’t matter if the older siblings are riding bikes or juggling fire –Toddler wants in on the action. Expect to hear “BABY ME TOO!” (or whatever your toddler’s personal equivalent phrasing is) 24-7.


This one is deceptive because it seems easy. Everyone knows what “yucky” means. The problem is, you don’t know what Toddler is referring to when he says it. Here are a few options:

  1. The healthy, expensive meal you worked hard to prepare for him.
  2. Something delicious of yours (say, Thai takeout) Toddler insisted you share with him (even though you knew he wouldn’t like it and told him so). In this scenario, “yucky” is uttered after Toddler takes a gigantic bite (possibly your last bite) and then spits out the food, letting it drop all over his shirt and the ground in a truly revolting manner.
  3. A potty situation–either in the actual potty, in his pants, or, Heaven forbid, somewhere elseĀ (after three boys, we’ve experienced this last one more times than I wish to recall).

Me Do Self

Your toddler is going to do it 100% by himself. It doesn’t matter if it’s something he’s physically or developmentally incapable of doing alone. Reason has no place here. Please budget an additional 235 hours into any of your plans to accommodate the toddler’s newfound desire for independence.

Expletives %#!%

Before you panic and assume your toddler just dropped the f-bomb, or another unfortunate expletive, pause and think.

Are there any fire trucks around? Dump trucks? Flags? Forks? Percy the Train (from the Thomas and Friends cartoon)? All of these innocent words can sound obscene in toddler translation.

Of course, if you or your spouse haven’t yet put a child-friendly filter on your mouths, there is definitely a chance that Toddler just said exactly what you think he said.

To be sure, examine whether it was said in context. Toddlers are excellent at picking up curse words and dropping them perfectly, just the way an adult would ( i.e. Toddler drops Cheerio and says “Oh Sh*t”).


This is another one that sounds simple enough, because toddlers master this word early and use it often (see also pee, poop, butt, really any potty words — especially if you’re raising boys).

Unfortunately, for as good as toddlers are at saying this word, they use it indiscriminately. Maybe they farted, maybe they pooped, maybe they just want to sit on the potty, maybe they burped, maybe they heard an unfamiliar noise. All of these can be “toot.”

For good measure, Toddler will pull this word out at the most inopportune times.

In the public restroom, while someone lets one rip in the stall next door? Yep.

In the middle of church? Yep.

In the middle of a restaurant, when it mysteriously gets very quiet for a second? Yes, at that exact moment.

Nigh-Nigh Mommy Bed

Toddler wants to sleep in Mommy’s bed. Yes, you got him a lovely convertible crib-bed that cost more than almost anything else you own, but that means nothing to Toddler. Toddler can’t kick you in the kidneys and sleep on top of your face from the safe distance of his own crib.

Scoot over and get comfortable on the teeniest, tiniest sliver of your master bed, because you’re about to discover just how much real estate one tiny human can occupy. Be sure to kick yourself for not buying a King-sized bed before you had kids. Foolish!

Worth noting: Mommy’s bed is typically also Daddy’s bed, but toddlers observe the universal rule of children everywhere: when it comes to night time, they only want mom.

Can’t sleep? Had a nightmare? Peed through the diaper? Need to throw up? That’s allllllll mom.

The Official Toddler Translation Guide: Coming to a Bookstore Near You

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lovely little stroll down toddler chit-chat lane! Don’t be be surprised if one day you find this toddler translation guide at Barnes & Noble, right next to The Happiest Baby on the Block, Babywise, and all the other parenting books first-time parents buy and rarely look at again.


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