What Words Should I Use When Teaching My Child About Genitals?

I want to teach my toddler about her body parts, but using the real words for genitalia seems too advanced for her; plus, frankly, it makes me feel self-conscious (they’re not exactly words I say aloud very often). Do I have to use the actual words, or would it be okay to make up nicknames for those body parts instead?
ByThe Bump Editors
Updated
Mar 2017
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Most experts agree that making up cutesy names for “private” parts when talking about the genital area gives toddlers the impression that their parents are too ashamed to call them by their real names. Generally they advise parents to talk about vaginas and penises the same way they’d talk about ears and toes: You wouldn’t make up a nickname when discussing ears and toes, so why would you do that for vaginas and penises? If you’re not embarrassed when talking about these body parts, your children won’t be either.

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