What is the hardest vocabulary topic in any language? Technical or medical jargon might come to mind. But there is another theme not less essential and equally hard--baby vocabulary.
The problem is one can rarely find baby-related words as a separate topic in a textbook or a language-learning app. Meanwhile, you might be moving to a Russian speaking country with a baby or work with small children that only use that language. Thus it is vital to have this vocabulary topic covered to effectively communicate with kids and cater to their needs.
If you found yourself in a similar situation this article has all your basic toddler-related lexicon needs covered:
General Guidelines for Speaking Russian With Babies
You is not made equal in Russian
In English, people are referred to as you no matter the age or position. The Russian language offers two pronouns ты [ti] and Вы [vi].
The former is used to refer to your nearest and dearest of a similar age and to all children. The same goes for inanimate objects, in case of kids, the toys.
Addressing children of different ages
Most of the time, you will hear a word ребенок [rib'enok] when a child of any age is addressed in a conversation. Sometimes the following terms are used:
Diminutive form is the way
Unlike English, the Russian language allows forming a diminutive form of nearly every noun.
Children exploit this aspect abundantly and love when adults use the same word form in conversation with them. Here are some examples:
"Baby, What Did You Say?" Russian Baby Talk
The little ones are hard to understand even in your mother tongue, let alone in a foreign one. Use this memo to make sense of all the boo-boos out there:
The Parents Talking
At times even when a native language speaker listens to two moms talking it's as if they are using some other extraterrestrial tongue. Russian is no different, but don't fret, here is a cheat sheet of baby-related words and phrases parents use every other minute:
|надеть слюнявчик||[nadet' sl'un'yavchik]||put on a bib|
|сменить подгузник||[smenit' padguz'nik]||diaper change|
|грудное вскармливание||[grudnoe fskarmlivanie]||breastfeeding|
|детское питание||[dezkae pitanie]||baby food|
|колыбель / детская кроватка||[kalibel'/ dezkaya kravatka]||crib|
|детское сидение||[dezkae sidenie]||bouncer|
|спеть колыбельную||[spet' kalibl'nyu]||to sing a lullaby|
Cute Nicknames for the Little Ones
Babies are too adorable to call them just by name. To express all the love for the little cuties you have some nicknames typically used in Russia referring to kids:
Talking to a toddler is an art to master. Here are some helpful phrases to make you a step closer:
Entertaining the Babies and Toddlers
After covering the baby vocabulary basics comes the fun part - entertainment. Russian offers many lullabies, songs, fairy-tales, and cartoons for the little ones to enjoy and for the parents to learn the language in the process.
Sound sleep is a priority, so there is an entire website where you can find not only lullabies but also texts and backings. So once you learn a song by heart, sing it together with an accompaniment. has been a lullaby of choice for generations of parents:
Resource for Russian Fairy Tales and Poems
The dlya-detei website has it all when it comes to kids' entertainment, from audio fairy-tales to little poems.
Resource for Russian Cartoons
If you are looking for short but sweet cartoons, deti-online is the way to go. For instance, Маша и медведь / Masha and the Bear is the Russian cartoon series that keeps children big and small glued to the screen all over the world. This treat is available on YouTube but beware: there might be some tears shed since the cartoon is addictive.
For kids over four, the animated series Смешарики / Smeshariki is an excellent choice.
Russian TV Show for Kids
Lastly, to spend an evening like a traditional Russian family with kids watch Спокойной ночи, малыши / Good night, little ones. This TV show first aired in 1964 and to this day is beloved by kindergartners. Rumor has it adults hit by nostalgia watch this one too.
Are Russian baby-related words similar to those in your native language? What is the most challenging part of learning a foreign language with the little ones?
Before you leave, share with us in the comments!