I am from Turkey and in Turkish the word for father is baba and dede for grandpa. Our 17 month old baby girl follows me all day with repeated baba but rarely says anne for mommy. As much as this flatters me, I feel my wife might be a bit down. Should I be concerned?

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    Ask yourself: what is easier to babble if you can't talk yet - "baba" or "anne"? Don't worry, she'll learn.
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 10:59
  • But she says it, rarely though. Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 11:22
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    Its origin is "ana" which is also "mommy" Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 14:20
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    My son, just over two, used to only say Mama. Then, for a brief time, he only said Papa. For awhile, it seemed that Mama/Papa meant "parent" to him, and it took him awhile to distinguish that only Papa is Papa, and only Mama is Mama. We helped him along by using the terms Mama and Papa a lot when talking to him.
    – user11394
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 17:19
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    Sounds normal to me, nothing to worry about.
    – A E
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 12:41

5 Answers 5


Usually children learn the words they need to know to get particular types of attention first, and use them most frequently.

So while there may be many reasons for her to choose saying "baba" and "dede" more frequently than "anne" one possibility is that you and grandpa don't pay as much attention to her as her mother. When she wants her mother's attention, she may already have it.

Mother might be anticipating her needs or paying attention more carefully to her other cues.

You and Grandpa, however, might not notice when she is trying to grab your attention unless she uses those words.

If this is the case - and clearly it's only one possibility of many - then if mom wants her to use "anne" to get mom's attention, she will have to let your daughter be a little more independent, stop anticipating her needs, and require her to ask for things she wants - including mom's attention.

In other words, it would be up to mom and the daughter to decide how best to communicate. If neither of them feel it necessary for the daughter to use "anne" then they won't.

This behavior actually speaks in favor of the closeness of their relationship, and probably shouldn't be viewed negatively.


The saying I heard since I was a child was "walking by one, talking by two." She'll get there! My son called me 'ball' for quite a while after he could say 'Daddy,' but who gets the lion's share of the kisses and snuggles? :)

If you have serious concerns about her development, see your pediatrician. However, this internet stranger's opinion, based on information from 3 sentences, is this is perfectly normal and your daughter's vocabulary will progress as she grows and learns.

  • I do hope that. Thanks, that was a relief :) Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 11:51
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    The "fastest" way to encourage her is to use the correct word often, in context (Look, daughter, it's anne! Give anne a hug. Anne is going to feed you now, etc.). Children learn by imitation, eventually, so use the word as much as possible -- but encourage your wife to not feel bad if it takes some time!
    – Acire
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 12:56

My niece used to say "mommy", "daddy" and the name of her older brother. The dog was "puppy". She took a long time to say "grandma" but they all were suspicious that "grandpa" was actually referring to both grandparents because one day she was taken to one of those zoos for kids and all the animals where "puppy" (so "puppy" was actually the designation for animal or non-human).

I came into this family through my wife. She was already "auntie" and I was "auntie" too for a really long time. Eventually she figured out I had my own name and after some time she was able to pronounce it correctly. From "ego" to something close to "tha ego" and then "diego".

My 10 month old son says "dada", but at home I'm always referred as "papá" (since I'm a Spaniard, and I want to teach him Spanish) and no one taught him "dada" (despite all them being English speakers). I guess that some syllabus like "dada" or "dede" or maybe "baba" are much easier to learn and master that others. For my son "dada" came naturally, and doesn't mean anything.

So, your babygirl might be going with terms that are currently easier to pronounce for her. If she already says "anne" I wouldn't worry. My guess is that it takes a little bit more of effort to say it, so she is less prone to use it, while "dede" is really easy for her so you hear it a lot.

  • Ha -- my kids also defaulted to grandpa for both "types" of grandparents :)
    – Acire
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 15:34
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    My oldest (4 years) is 'daddy's boy'. When hurt and upset he cries: My daddy, my daddy... (even if he is upset over my husband telling him to go to bed or something). My youngest (22 m), now cries the same. He cried the other other day, mu husband asked him: who is daddy? and he pointed to me.
    – Ida
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 16:23
  • Haha, that was funny :) Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 19:34

You certainly shouldn't be concerned! When she is a little older, standing behind you trying to get your attention while yo are trying to do some work, or just have a conversation, the constant "Dad!, Dad!, Dad!, Dad!...... Dad!" wont be in the least bit flattering :)

Seriously, it could simply be that Mum gives her more immediate attention than you do - so she 'knows' that just looking up at Mum will get her what she wants - while Dad jsut takes a bit more persuasion.

She's starting in the right way - controlling you :)


It's worth noticing that around the world, different languages have very similar sounds for parents: Dada, Mama, Nana, Papa, Baba.

It is unsurprising, these are the most basic phonemes.

The child learns to make their first language sounds looking into the face of a parent, imitating.

'Mama' and 'Baba' are the easiest to 'wire up', as they involve nothing beyond opening the lips while voicing. A 'n' sound is much more complex, as it involves a specific deft movement of the tongue.

Also 'BaBaBaBa' is an extremely satisfying sound. The child will be simply enjoying the experience of creating this sound repeatedly.

There is nothing to worry about. Your child's natural curiosity will take them to explore the more subtle flavours of vocal articulation.

Babytalk is essentially phoneme acquisition. Play some basic babytalk games with your child, to ensure they acquire decent phonetic vocabulary.

BaBa BuBu KiKi KaKa


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