Teaching My Daughter to Say “Vagina”

Pregnancy & Postpartum


My 15-month-old is talking up a storm these days. The other day she learned to say “turtle.” Actually she says it more like “tur-tah” but it still counts!

Watching her language develop is so amazing. It’s becoming really fun to communicate with her, except when she tells me “no,” of course.

Her latest word: “pee-pee.” She first said it when I was changing her diaper. She pointed to her vagina as she said it. Of course, I had a total proud moment—so smart! I told her, “Yes, that’s where you go pee-pee. You go pee-pee from your vagina.”

My husband happened to overhear me and was like, “Can you call it something else?”

At first I told him sure. I grew up calling my vagina a “shu-shu,” which is short for “shushola” (phonetically spelled out)—the Russian word for vagina. It’s basically like saying “vajayjay” in English.

After some thought, it hit me: Why do we come up with nicknames for private parts? They aren’t bad words. They are nothing to be ashamed of. I chatted it out with my husband, and we agreed. We’re teaching her to call it a “vagina”. That’s what it’s called. We’ll also teach her that a boy has a penis. Not a “wee-wee,” which many kids call it.

For now, my daughter is of course going to still call it a “pee-pee,” which is fine. She calls dogs “woof-woof.” And like I tell her, “Yes, that’s a doggy and the doggy says ‘woof-woof,’” I’ll also tell her, “Yes, that’s where you go pee-pee. You go pee-pee from your vagina.”

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