Theories on Toddlers and Anatomy Terminology


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.