duck, duck, duck (or, language development is cool)

Isn't language development the coolest? In case you aren't there yet with your little ones, it is.

This happened several months ago when my little one was starting to pick up words. 

One of his first-ish words was "duck" and he'd point them out in various books.

One day I decide to take him to a park that has actual, real ducks in a pond for him to see. 

So we go.

In the parking lot he sees a huge crow.


He is new at this so I'm not going to say, "No. That is a crow. Duh." so I let him down really easy. 

I give some positive feedback and help connect those wires in his brain.

Making the obvious connection that a crow is a bird and a duck is a bird.

We keep walking. 

At the entrance we see a robin sitting on the fence.

And I say a similar thing, telling him that it is a robin, but indeed a bird.

Inside the park, there is a bird feeder with some generic brown birds. I have no idea what these are. We call them "brown dumpy birds" in our family because they are everywhere and nondescript.

Whatever, they totally aren't ducks.

Finally, we arrive at the pond!

At first, he is looking the other way so he doesn't even see the miraculous ducks.

I hold my breath and wait for him to notice them. They are coming out of the water towards us, hoping we have food.

Any moment he will gleefully exclaim "Duck!" and I'll be able to answer "Yes! You are right!" to him.

Finally, he turns and spots them. He sees the ducks!

He identifies them.


And I'm able to say, "Uh, yes! You are right!"

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73 Responses to duck, duck, duck (or, language development is cool)

  1. Franny says:

    So adorable! You can just see the wheels spinning in their mind.

  2. Laura says:

    hahahah! Yes, this is so the life of a toddler… at least it is here in my household too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Sommer says:

    LMAO, I love you and all your posts. Reading them cheers me right up. Next time I am in a bad mood I am coming right back here. =)

  4. Ren says:

    Funny. My two year old is still calling non-ducks “ducks” and actual ducks “bow-dies”
    You are right on with this one!

  5. Anisa says:

    Um, your crappy pictures have some magnificently illustrated birds in them – especially the mallard drake!

    And – yes – it is the best! Coincidentally my oldest son’s first word was duck. He pronounced it “dutt!” ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. HaleyStudio says:

    I call any little brown bird a sparrow.

    We’ve used the phrase “kind of” with much success! Duck — kind of bird. Sparrow — kind of bird. Robin — kind of bird.

    Ditto for food items (since previously, dear toddler would only say “want food” and we’d like to clarify whether she wants cheese, watermelon, or bread… since giving the wrong food = tantrum)

  7. I feel ya. All elephants are “Baggy” because of the book, “The Saggy Baggy Elephant”. Elmo is “LaLa” because of the “La Lala La La La, Elmo loves tickles” song that her Elmo doll sings. All cats are “Jack Jack” because one of our 3 cats is named Jack Jack. All Disney Princesses and most of the Disney Fairies are “Ya Na” because she loves Princess Tiana. My little love is 19 months old. We do our best to explain the real names and other characteristics which define each thing, but overall, we know what she means and one day, Elmo will be Elmo and Elephants will be Elephants, and Cinderella will be Cinderella and I will be somewhat sad to know that my little baby is gone.

  8. Hope says:

    Love it!!! I so enjoy this phase of my childrens’ lives! : )

  9. Lauren says:

    We are right there with you! My little guy has recently combined the words “car” and “truck” to make the word “cuck.” Makes for some interesting looks when we are out in public. lol

  10. Shannon says:

    Oh I thought this was going to turn out bad LOL

    When my daughter was at this stage we were at an aunt and uncle’s house very often. On the wall they had a bear skin and a fox skin. My uncle worked with her to say what they were. We got bear no problem. The fox however proved to be more challenging.

    Everytime he would ask her what it was she would say fock. Well being the turd that my uncle is he then added my aunt to the mix. This then became: bear, fock, J.

    When my son came along he tried to do this with him. That boy wouldnt say fox to save his life. It was hilarious.

  11. Erica says:

    Love it! and I love lang development. It never gets old. Even with the third child, every development (physical, vocal, whatever) is amazing all over again. Best part of parenting, totally.

  12. Justine says:

    My oldest, now 4, loved Ducks. The yellow animated ones you see in books and the rubber ones made for the tub. When we took her to see real ducks, she had no clue what they were and became pretty upset when we tried to explain that they were real ducks!

  13. Tamara says:


  14. heather says:

    I adored watching my daughter figure out written numbers. For a good while, if she saw a 7 she’d say “hippo!” Or, number 3 she’d say “cat!!”

    The reason is obvious. She had a wooden number puzzle. Under each number was a picture of that number of animals. Under the 3 was 3 cats. Under the 7 — you guessed it — 7 hippos.

    We thought it was adorable, and also really cool, because it showed that she had made the connection that the general shape of the number itself (regardless of font, no less) *represented* something. At first she thought it represented the animal depicted, rather than *how many* of the animal there was. But it still showed the understanding of *symbol*, which is a VERY important developmental step in brain development.

  15. Jessica says:

    At least he’s wearing clothes when you take him outside. Can’t say I have that much motivation with mine… ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. heather says:

    PS — when she’d say “cat” for a 3, we’d do much the same as in the comic. I’d say “yes, 3 cats” and just left it at that. She eventually made the rest of the connections on her own and now thinks it’s VERY funny to watch videos of her doing that…

  17. Karen says:

    Coulda been worse. He coulda had an issue with D vs. F. And Tr vs. F. Just ask me. I know what I’m talking about.

  18. That’s so funny! You’d reinforced bird for him so many times he picked it up.

  19. Lisa says:

    brown dumpy birds = “LBJs” (little brown jobs) here

  20. foxes_garden says:

    My little girl also calls all birds “duck”. And I think the official Audubon term for the little brown birds is “LBJ’s” as Lisa mentions.

    Regarding the fox / duck / truck discussion, my girl can’t pronounce “f” or “s” at the beginning of the word, so both fox and sock come out as “Haaaaok”.

    Our most interesting word has been “nana”. This started out meaning “banana”. Then it broadened to mean just about any food. Now she uses it to mean “of that”. So anything she wants more of she asks for “Moo nana”. The rest of the family has also started requesting “moo nana” when they want another helping.

  21. Ali K says:

    So funny and such coincidence! My little boy repeated “guck” after I pointed out a truck today and I swelled with pride! Then I pointed out a car and he said “guck’ too! Hmmm, we’ll get there!

  22. Melissa says:

    The little brown birds are probably sparrows, most likely house sparrows. They’re everywhere.

    Is this the one you mean?

  23. Amber Dusick says:

    Yes, I think so! Thank you!

  24. Amber Dusick says:

    That is adorable. One of the ones you’ll be sad to see go.

  25. Amber Dusick says:

    LOL, yes, my eldest had the Tr and F thing when he was little. Every “truck” was announced loudly.

  26. Amber Dusick says:

    So cute and fascinating at the same time! And don’t you love watching them watch videos of themselves? Cracks my son up like nothing else.

  27. michelle says:

    When my son was learning to speak, when I would ask him to put his toys away I would ask him “Where does this go?” and he would point and say “BONG right here!” or “Bong over dare!” (he couldn’t say ‘belong’)
    I loved it when he said that, and used to ask him where things were supposed to go just to here him say it. LOL.

  28. deedee says:

    I’m surprised, I totally thought you were going in another direction with this one. As in, my child is repeating whatever I say, and I’m so glad that he isn’t quite there yet with *all* his sounds… Shame on me, this is a clean, family blog! I guess I could post that story on my own blog (ya know, if I took the time to keep one – sure glad you do ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. deedee says:

    Oh good, I see from above I’m not the only one with this train of thought/experience!

  30. Monica says:

    LOVE it! Lol! Language development milestones are always great, and fun to watch their progress. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have a 2.5 year old who has invented his own diction. I love it, and it is hilarious. Since he is baby number four, I realize all too well it will pass much too quickly. I need to get more of it on video.

  31. Cyn says:

    I have something similar happening with dogs, everything walking on 4 legs with fur is a dog, until she saw dora calling dogs puppies and now everything is a dog, exept dogs who are puppies LOL

  32. I’d say your son is a quack, oops, I mean, quick learner ๐Ÿ˜‰

  33. Bec says:

    Love this one! My 2yr old is presently calling every colour “wot tulla” (what colour) because silly me keeps pointing to stuff and asking “What colour???”

  34. Jaclyn says:

    My daughter still won’t say mommy but picked up on her daddy calling the dog an asshole. Now she lovingly pats his head and says “asshole” ALL. THE. TIME. She also seems to think anything with fur is an asshole.

  35. I love reading your blog. So far Lucas says, ba ba ba ba, mom, & momma.

  36. You draw a mean duck. I’m really impressed with the quality. Alas, I have no kids, so I can only comment on the pictures.

  37. hilarious and well written!

  38. jamye says:

    Dylan’s first-ish words was Duck too. His first word was Dog! This comes at a perfect time too as he saw some Geese for the first time and excitingly said DUCK! And I got so excited LOL I just agreed and figured, you are 11months, we will learn Goose another day haha

    Loved the story!!

  39. Jessica says:

    I love this post, and I love the comments too! My two-year old used to call every animal “doggie”, except for cats, which were all “Bobby” (one of our cat’s names). When I tried repeatedly to tell him that our second cat was not Bobby, that kitty became – you guessed it – “NotBobby”. So we had doggies, Bobby, and NotBobby.

  40. Too funny!

    My son still has issues with some birds…he refuses to acknowledge that penguins or ostriches are birds because they don’t fly, lol. Can’t wait for my 6mo to get to that age!

  41. Franca says:

    hahahaha! One of my first words was also duck! And I declared that ALL animals at the zoo were ducks. Didn’t matter if they were tigers, elephants or snakes. My brother, who was 3 years older than me, found this extremely exasperating. Still does, actually…

  42. amy says:

    lol. my 22 m/o calls all birds “duckies”. i just go with it.

  43. Tamara says:

    Duck is a favorite in our household, too. But we also have a decorative rooster in our kitchen (don’t judge) and I show it to my twins and say “cock-a-doodle-doo.” So my son calls it and every other bird he sees “cock.”

    P.S. We’re no longer welcome at Chik-fil-A.

  44. Laura says:

    Yup, duck was an early word here, I think ‘dat’ for that was the first.

    I love your story, incredibly cute!

  45. HAHA!! My daughter calls ‘deer’ a ‘beer’ so we were at Wal-Mart the other day and see saw one something and started yelling really load, “A BEER! A BEER! I WANNA BEER!” =/

  46. RC says:

    My son had a toy fox he kept in the car. Lots of two-year-old tantrums while buckling, most of which involved screaming “Wan my fock!” at the top of his voice–always in crowded parking lots.

  47. Michelle says:

    The two little ones I nanny for (they are 1.8 yrs and twins) call birds “tweet tweet” and ducks “quack quack”. we are currently working on calling them birds and ducks. ::sigh:: But language development is very cool.

  48. Gwen says:

    Adorable; love your stories, I can relate so well as mine are grown but remember all the similarities!! Thanks for putting it in such a delightful way we can all enjoy!

  49. Katharine says:

    Try ‘clock’ when they can’t say the letter l yet…

  50. robyn says:

    One of our son’s first words was the name of his blanket, Way-doh. It took us a while to realize the name came from Lay Down!

  51. Ginny says:

    When my cousin was a toddler, he had a little book of animals and their sounds, and when he would point out the animal he’d say the name and the sound. Duck………instead of quack was truck with an F. Those were some foul-mouthed ducks for a little bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. elin says:

    Love the “NotBobby”. Cracking me up!

  53. veronica lee says:

    Too cute!

    Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog!
    Have a nice day!

  54. Heather C says:

    I think toddler brains are wired completely different than ours. Something happens between diapers and school and they start to act human. Until then they are little cave men, so funny to watch them figure stuff out. Sometimes when one of my two boys is thinking REALLY hard about something, I can almost see the smoke wafting out…

  55. Heather C says:

    BTW…awsome blog!!!! Really makes my day. Sick husband or parenting laws is a definate favorite. I refer back to old ones when necessary.

  56. julie says:

    The fact that we can even speak that early on in life is amazing… I thought my daughter would be late speaking because she’s getting 2 languages since birth (I’m a native French speaker) but I’m surprised she’s actually repeating a lot and putting 3-word sentences together at 16 months old! She’s just leaving “R” out of most words, this French sound seems to be a challenging one…

  57. Ellie says:

    In our house any bird that is not in a cage is a chicken. All birds in cages are just birds. And “chickens” eat grass. In his defense it does look like the birds are eating grass when they are eating bugs and worms.

  58. Leslie says:

    So true! And I do love this stage. My 19 MO son is in the middle of it and it took us a while to realize that his word for “farm” is “E-I-E-I-O”.

  59. Heather says:

    Mine skipped clock all together and started calling it “tick tock”….I guess it works ๐Ÿ˜‰

  60. Jackie says:

    LOL, we parents work so hard, don’t we???

  61. sue says:

    We still call the tv remote control the ‘mokomotrol’ thanks to my daughters language development, also apparently people jumping out of planes use ‘parrot shoots’ lol.
    LOVE your blog xx

  62. Nancy says:

    LOL! So much truth! My favorites from my son (now 6 1/2): all large four-legged farm creatures were “moos” for a while, cats were “meows,” and kitchen become “chicken” when what he wanted for Christmas at age 3 was a toy “chicken.” One etymology we never quite figured out was “mote” for milk. ?

  63. Steve says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog today…you are hilarious! Anyway, my 2year old Liam is throwing out new words at us every day. Still won’t say “I love you” for some reason….think he’s purposefully holding out. As you know, kids are fascinated with their private parts. Last night while my wife was changing Liam, he was flicking his balls and laughing. Pure awesome. He comes downstairs and my wife is laughing. “Tell daddy what you just learned”. Liam walks up to me as I’m lying on the couch, and with a very concerned serious face points to his groin and says “daddy…esticles”.
    I’m so proud.

  64. says:

    OMG this is almost exactly what happened with our daughter! Her first word was duck, while looking at a picture book. And now all birds are “ducks”

  65. Alison says:

    My nephew and I had two simliar ‘discussions’.

    First one was looking at a Lake, which he explains is “Water”. Through trying to explain the difference, he highlights that the dam on our property isn’t a dam; it’s water. So it the bath, shower = water.

    The other was the first time he saw a Tram. “It’s a train!” he screams, although in explaining that it’s a “tram”, he states “it’s on tracks – IT’S A TRAIN!”

    Best we came to was “tram-train” cause it’s on tracks, but different as it’s on the road too…

    Can’t beat a 3 year old logic.

  66. Heather says:

    Driving by the vet school with horses outside. Little one pipes up “moooo” I say ” No , Neigh!”

    “No, honey, Neigh!”
    Now the 5 yo jumps in “Neigh, Goober!”

    Twice a week every time we went to the soccer fields and passed the horses for the entire spring season. (6 mo later he knows the difference)

  67. Bronwyn says:

    Lucky his first word for a bird was “duck”. My son’s first word for a bird was “cock” as we had seen a pea cock, and the “cock” stuck, but not the “pea”. So seagull – “Cock!”; duck – “Cock!”; garden statue of an eagle – “Cock!”

  68. LindaR says:

    Duck was our son’s first word as well…. followed by “ah! ah!” for monkey.

  69. kat says:

    only just found this post!!! when my sister was little everything that had wings was a duck and everything with 4 legs was a cat, easy!!!