We’re in a very fun stage of language development at my house. At 18 months old, the kids are picking up new words quickly. My son, in particular, attempts to repeat a word in almost everything I say to him. It’s a lot of fun.
As with anything developmental, I always think it’s funny to see how these two kids, from the same parents, being raised in the same household, do things differently from one another. They make the same animal noises (meow is hands-down the favorite), and both started saying “na-na” for banana on the same day. Yet other things the pronounce completely differently.
One of my favorites is what they call each other. My kids are Rebecca and Daniel. Rebecca has been saying a pretty clear “Day-yul” for ages, now. Never called him anything else. Just her very best pronunciation of Daniel. He, on the other hand, seemed to not call her anything for a while… until I realized he had his very own name for her: Nee-nee. That’s right. Rebecca –> NeeNee. I have no idea how he got to that one. Rebeecca, I can understand, is a mouthful. But I thought maybe he’d pick up on the “Becca” part? Nope. NeeNee. We don’t have any nicknames for her that sound remotely like that. But it’s quite clear, that’s the name he uses for his sister.
This also leads me to the question of how to deal with these odd words. On one end of the spectrum, I’ve seen tons of parents start calling cats “meow-meows”, or ask the baby if she wants her “ba-ba” instead of bottle. The parent adopts the child’s word or pronounciation. On the other end, I’ve seen people get kind of harsh and insist on near-perfect pronounciation before they will concede that “bah-do” is the same as “bottle.”
I seem to be taking a middle road. When Daniel says “Nee-nee,” I say, “that’s right, buddy, that’s Rebecca!” When Rebecca starts shrieking “Meow! Meow!” I say, “Oh, do you see a kitty cat?” I didn’t give it a ton of thought before I started doing it, but I feel like what I’m doing is acknowledging that I understand what they’re saying, but continuing to say the “right” word in a non-critical way. Seems OK to me, are there any speech people out there to tell me whether I’m doing the right thing?
What about the rest of you out there? What do your kids call each other? Any idea how they arrived at silly nicknames? And how do you approach mispronounciations or made-up words in general?