Do you talk baby French? Explore the first French baby words and essential French childcare vocabulary + French coo video: a French baby says “areuh” !
There are many articles out there on how to teach your kid to speak French. However, I couldn’t find anywhere a list of French vocabulary used with or around French kids – useful for childcare in France or with French speaking children. So I put this list together.
1 – French Baby Talk
French doesn’t have that many French baby words. We tend to talk to our babies in a “normal” way – well, we simplify the tenses, use less French pronouns, and focus on essential vocabulary, but still, kids are amazing at guessing languages, and talking to your baby in a normal way is the best way to build up her/his vocabulary.
Let’s now what are the French baby first words.
- Papa – Dad
- Maman – Mom – Note the French don’t really have a shorter word for Maman, nor a synonym.
Mother, Mommy, Mom, Mum = Maman in French.
- Lolo – this is milk in Kid French.
- Un Nounours – say the final S. A teddy bear. This one is fun because it came from the liaison of the N with the noun “ours” (bear) making it sound like “noors”, then nounours.
- Un doudou – watch out for this one. It means teddy bear or special blankie kid sleeps with: it comes from the French adjective “doux”: soft.
- Un dodo – sleepy time
- Un dada – a horse
- Un toutou – a dog
- Un joujou – a toy
- Un bobo – a boo-boo
- le caca – poop, doodoo
- le pipi – pee
- le prout – fart
- le zizi – weenie
- la zézette – I don’t know the English equivalent! A childish word to describe girl’s genitals. Sometime’s boys. And sometimes Zézette is used like a nickname for Suzanne or Zoé! Ah, the French…
Now, if you are interested in how to teach your kid to speak French, I’ll direct you to my section on this topic: Learn French For Kids.
2 – French Vocabulary For Childcare
- Une couche – a diaper
- Du talc – talc
- Des lingettes – wipes
- De la crème pour les fesses – anti-rash ointment (there ought to be a more scientific name, but this is what French moms would say :-)
- Une tétine, une sucette, une tototte (colloquial) = a pacifier
- Sucer son pouce – to suck one’s thumb
- Un matelas à langer – changing mat
- Une poussette – a stroller
- Un biberon – a baby bottle
- Un bavoir – a bib
- Un rot – a burp
- Un renvoi (in “mom” talk, we say “un crachouillis”) – a wet burp
- Un vomit – throw up
- Allaiter – to nurse
- Une garderie – daycare, childcare
- Une garde d’enfant (une nounou is “mom” talk) – a nanny
- Une aire de jeu – a playground
I used all this French Kid Vocabulary and much more in context in my French audiobook À Moi Paris L4. Chapter 12. Rosa takes her toddler niece and baby nephew to the “parc Monceau” and interacts with them. She talks about pregnancy and childcare with a friend.
My bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation used in real-life like situations. My French audiobooks are exclusively available on French Today.
3 – What Sounds Do French Babies Make?
When a baby cries in French, it says: “Ouin-ouin”.
When it coos, it says: “areuh”.
Areuh – is for sure the absolute first French word. All the difficulties of the French pronunciation: the French R and the EU sound in the first word said by French babies… isn’t that amazing!
Here is a video – you’ll hear mostly the French Mom saying “areuh”…. but she says it very well!
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