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Did You Just Call Me Duck?! Baby Nicknames from Around the World

By babbleeditors |

My father used to call me Horseball; an affectionate, if somewhat unconventional, nickname. My five-year-old optimism (and literal brain) lead me to believe that I had earned this moniker for my skill at horse-play, and because I was spirited, like a … ball of horses! It wasn’t until I was much older and I came face-to-face with a raised tail on the business end of a real, live horse that I realized just how far my father had strayed from nicknaming orthodoxy.

I live in Japan now, and when my friends heard me call my girl Funny Monkey, they laughed and laughed and laughed, both humored and somewhat aghast. It was as if I had called her Horse Poop. This struck me as odd; isn’t it a parenting universal that we give pet names to our kids? Turns out, nicknaming conventions have much variation the world over. — Erica Knecht


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What'd You Call Me? Baby Nicknames from Around the World

The UK

While the British share many of our North American nicknaming conventions, pet names often have a regional flair. If you’re from Sussex, you might call your kiddo duck. A Northerner might bestow the name hinny or pet on her wee one. And if you’re Scottish, your baby’s nickname might be hen, or sweetpie.

What nicknames are you planning on calling your baby?

Erica Knecht is a mother, writer, and professional nomad, currently based in Southern Japan. When not gallivanting across the globe with her one-year-old, she blogs about the lighter side of tri-cultural parenting on her blog Expatria, Baby.

 

 

More on Babble:

Around the (small) world: 15 fascinating baby customs from different countries

What in the world?! 11 pregnancy superstitions from various cultures

All around the world: We had a baby — but we never stopped traveling

More on Babble

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10 thoughts on “Did You Just Call Me Duck?! Baby Nicknames from Around the World

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    When my sister lived in Australia, everyone called her baby “Bub.” It was pretty adorable in the accent!

  2. Jessica says:

    I call my son ‘worm’ and ‘chick-a-dee’

  3. Jenn says:

    My father called my brother and I “bean” so I naturally call my daughter bean. I thought it was extremely common, but my daycare providers were really curious about it – said they’d never heard a parent use the nickname bean before…? Francis Bean Cobain is a bean, the woman who wrote the book about how to parent like the French – her daughter is a bean – think we even have a board book that’s dedicated to someone’s bean…?

  4. Olga says:

    Such a fun article! I am Polish and I call my girls “żabka”- little frog. Typical Polish nicknames are “słoneczko”- “little sun”, “skarb” (treasure), miś (little bear), or “kochanie”- loved one.My parents called me “Oleńka”- little Olga.

  5. Danielle says:

    I have nicknames for all of my kids. After my youngest daughter 3rd in the birth order I had my tubes tied. A year to the very day of her birth we found out that we were expecting again. The Nickname for our last child who is a boy is nicked name “LUCKY”, The oldest son is “monkey” cause he looked like one when he was born, the oldest Daughter was “MAMA” since she never wanted to say it when she was a baby and coming from a latin decent it just made sense and the youngest girl is “Lala” which is half of her actual name.
    Plus, sometimes its really cool to drop them off at school and say Have a good Day Monkey.

  6. dezi's mom says:

    My son goes by a couple of nicknames. The shortening of his name, Des or Dezi, and also I often call him bubba bear. lol

  7. Merle H. says:

    My baby’s name is Trygve (Scandinavian), which we use the standard shortened variation of “Tryg”. His nickname was Trygger, but somehow that has morphed into “turkey”. So, I’m either calling my baby “turkey” or the dogs name (on accident).

    http://www.blackbirdsbooksandbabies.com

  8. Xotchil Danio says:

    My nickname was zucchini, as a kid, I always asked for it. My parents friend still calls me this to this day. I’m 32

  9. Ashley says:

    Nice piece Erica! I lol’d reading it. :D

    Babble editors: -chan and -kun aren’t considered nicknames, which perhaps you meant, but that wasn’t entirely clear. People do shorten kids’ names (or kids make up nicknames frequently for each other). For example, our daughter’s name is Airi, but it would be quite normal/common to call her “Ai-chan” in Japan. A lot depends on how close you are to someone, your superiority, etc. In high school, some female teachers still refer to students as “___-chan” and “____-kun” (girls chan and boys kun), though -san is more normal at this point in time.

    Also, the Japanese word for “kite” isn’t “kaito”, but “tako”. Although in some contexts I suppose kaito might be used… though in my experience, not commonly. I’m also not sure why you would refer to a cute kid as “kaito chan”?

  10. sooz says:

    I call my son Scooter or Scoot, He’s a teen now, so I have to be careful not to use it when he’s around friends. His nickname stems from when he was a baby and learning to walk, he used to scoot on his butt.

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