Have you noticed that there are a lot of different theories on teaching toddlers about anatomy?

They are all very different, all have their pros and cons, but it is imperative that you take one of the strategies and run with it, because we all know that toddlers find the naming (and exploring, especially boys) of anatomy very important.

Some parents take the medical approach. When you are around these toddlers, you will hear them using quite grownup and shockingly anatomically correct terms. They will leave no question in ANYONE’S mind regarding EXACTLY what they are referring to.

Then some parents take the cutesy approach. These toddlers can be heard saying things like “wee-wee”, “hoo-hoo”, “hiney”, “booty” and “booby”.

The third approach (that I know of – please let me know if I’ve left out your preferred approach), which is the one that we have used so far, is the vague approach. We call things “parts”, and your tummy begins below your neck (or “neck sugars”, as Ali calls it) and ends at your “parts”.

There are definite pros to this strategy – one being that you don’t turn red from your toddler yelling out “my (insert body part here) hurts!!!”.

Or, as one of our friend’s children went through, finding great joy in yelling out the word “BOOOOTY!!!” at the top of their lungs. Or, when feeling especially gleeful, yelling in quick rapid fire, “BOOTYBOOTYBOOTY!!!!!!”

Because let’s face it: booty is much too fun of a word to not be tempted to say it.

(Go ahead. Try it. Give BOOTYBOOTYBOOOTY!!! a shout and you’ll see exactly what I mean.)

At any rate, as I was saying, yelling out “PARTS!!” isn’t going to cause too much of a stir. Nor is it going to be as tempting to yell out in the first place.

However, there are certainly downsides to this vague approach as well. Lately: tummy confusion.

Since approximately 97% of my friends are pregnant right now, I have been having a lot of conversations with Ali about “babies in bellies” and how people with babies in their bellies have bumps on their bellies where the babies are.

(I know that you think you know where this is going by now, but trust me – you don’t.)

(Unless you are Alice, then you do).

Anyway, we were at lunch with Alice at Edgar’s Bakery on Thursday. You know, a nice, cultured, girly place. We had finished eating and were chatting. Ali was down and running around, inventing games for herself.

Then, all of a sudden, she felt the need to come over and inspect me.

She was looking intensely at my “upper tummy” (you know, right below my neck sugars), and, as if she had just noticed this for the first time, started stroking my, ahem, bumpy chest, and saying confusedly (and quite loudly – somewhat exclamatorily even),

“Mommy has a baby in her tummy? Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy. Mommy’s tummy bumps? Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy.”

Then she would point to her bump-less tummy. “Ali doesn’t have a baby in HER tummy.”

Then would jab me forcefully. “Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy?”

I kept trying to tell her that I did not, in fact, have a baby in my tummy, but she was determined to get to the bottom of this bumpy mystery.

This went on for quite some time, and Alice was highly amused and giggling across the table.

So of course, I tried to deflect at her, for revenge.

“Does Alice have a baby in her tummy?”

No luck. Ali looked at me, said with a rather bored and know-it-all tone, “uh uh”, and kept poking at my bumpy tummy, and repeatedly asking questions about what was housed inside it.

So the moral of this story is: there is no approach to anatomy that will keep your child from trying their darndest to embarrass you.

Just accept the fact, pick your strategy as best as you can, and brace yourself.

14 thoughts on “Theories on Toddlers and Anatomy Terminology

  1. Haha, we are still floundering our way through the body parts. One of my books says you need to call them what they are and not give them little names but it is embarrassing to hear a little kid say those not so little words! We’ve gone with the cutsey approach so far…booty, pee pee, and chest. You’ll have to let us know how the vague approach works out. :)

  2. We are definitely “booty” people. I can’t make myself say the medical terms! My kids can’t say “booty” without giggling, which also makes me giggle.

    My next post references my son’s booty. I may link back to this post, if that’s okay. :)

  3. HA! Yeah, they can always find a way to embarrass us.

    I just could never do the anatomically correct thing. When I was a teen, my best friend’s toddler brother used all the proper names. When he had to go, he’d shout “Mommy! I have to DEFECATE!!!!”

    We say butt, poopy, peepee, poot, winky and tinky. I guess if our kids are gonna embarrass us, at least they’ll be cute.

    As for “upper tummy”, we always said nipples when we referred to them on the kids. Nobody even thought of mentioning mine until one of my girls suddenly shouted in a restaurant: “Mommy! Why do you have big nipples?!!!” Yep.

    If there’s any good news, it’s that you spend the first 11 years with them embarrassing YOU, and then the rest until they’re parents embarrassing THEM. Payback, Baby.

  4. With James we just call my “upper tummy” my chest. He calls them “balls.” He deosn’t even notice them at home, but whenever we are out, the grocery store, in church, wherever, he loves to grab them and say “mommy balls, mommy balls” over and over. My other kids think it is hilarious and laugh at him so it just encourages him to keep doing it!

  5. We most definately do the cutesy approach. Butt is boohiney, fart is toot, and boys have wee wee’s. We haven’t figured out the best thing for girl parts. I always called it a hoo hoo but Woodstock got it a little confused and called it a waaahooo. That just seemed wrong. In retrospect I wish we would have called it a pee pee. That could have been for both girls and boys. We just say chest for boobs. Woodstock did just recently start noticing his nipples. I told him they were nips. This is funny you posted this. Lindsay and I were just talking about this same thing yesterday!

  6. LOL well just wait till she’s potty training and announces to the whole world/store/park that she went “stinkies, poopie” whatever you decide to call THAT in the potty! I think the reason giving birth is so humiliating… is to prepare us for toddlerhood ;)

    Thanks for sharing, that was tooo cute!


    PS….. be careful when you have another one if you BF… my then 2 year old went around lifting her shirt for all to see to show everyone how babies eat! It was quite hilarious at home, till she did it at the store, dr’s office, church…. so much for taking away all the questions so they dont get to obsessed with it! ;)

  7. That’s funny! I guess Ali must think that I’m having triplets.

    I think I’m going to go with “bottom” and “pee pee”. I think… We’ll see…

  8. Oh wow, all of your stories made me giggle! I had to read them to Chris. I guess we all have those embarrassing moments regarding this subject, which SHOULD make us all feel better, right?

    By the way, we use “bum” for butt. Not sure why, but it’s cute when she says, “My bum hurts. Kiss it!!!”, while bending over and pointing at it.

  9. trust me. i work with 12 three-year-old children every day and there is no way to deal with this that’s not embarrassing in some fashion. and the booty word? i do have some that say it a lot and they all giggle hysterically. truthfully, i wish that’s all they said. i’ve heard just about every cuss word and seen some “adult” play that just boggles my brain.

  10. HA! i have had similar things happen. i think they used to think my chest was called my tummy. it’s not come up again, though nipples did the other day. i think chest is a good word. we say pee pee for girls and boys and bottom. i worked with a PA that had all the correct terms. freaked me right out. i’m really glad there are lots out there that don’t b/c i worried that i was doing something wrong. evie did ask about noah’s pee pee the other day. i think we just told her that’s just how boys are. and then she’s off and forgotten about it.

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