nicknames

Buddy, champ or sweetie: What's in a nickname?

Aug. 14, 2012 at 10:08 AM ET

Expectant parents agonize over what to name their little bundle of joy. Of course, after kiddos arrive, those carefully selected names are often ditched for the convenience of an easy-peasy nickname or a sweet term of endearment.

While nicknames have been a standard parenting tool through the ages, our go-to nicknames have changed over the years. The New York Times reports that “sport” and “champ” are out of style and these days, “buddy” reigns supreme. Of course, some experts see a deeper meaning in this. Are we using buddy because we want to be friends with our kids more than we want to be their parents? Or, maybe it’s a reaction to our more isolated lives, and we’re looking to our kids to fill our friendship needs.

Or, maybe it’s much simpler than all that. Perhaps, the Times muses, "years of watching 'Gilligan’s Island' left the term 'little Buddy,' the Skipper’s nickname for Gilligan, lodged in their brains. Or maybe it was the jingle from those 1980s commercials for the 'My Buddy' doll."

Let us offer another theory: Nicknames like "Buddy" are popular because they're interchangeable. What parent of more than one child hasn’t found themself frazzled and a little brain-dead, running through the list of kids (and sometimes pets) in the house, before landing on the name of the actual child they’re addressing? 

We asked TODAY Moms Facebook fans what their favorite kid nicknames are. While many agreed that Buddy is a common occurrence, there was plenty of other creative name-calling.

Lisa Van Osdol Bland says they call their oldest son Buddy. But: “My hubby calls my daughter Punky, and I call her Sweet Pea, her aunt calls her Mabel. My youngest I call him Rocket Man, and his papa calls him Speed Racer.”

Amanda Shawntel Padgett has a nickname for everyone in her family.

“My kids are Snickerdoodle, Bubbas a.k.a Punkindoodle, and Cub a.k.a. Cubba Wubba Chubba. My little brothers are Bubby, Roo, and Pooky a.k.a. Pook-a-dook. Nephew is Chunky Monkey a.k.a. Monkey Man.”

Some moms say nicknames come from the antics of babies. Ashley Swanberg’s daughter is Fiona.

Says Swanberg:

“We have called her 'mouse', 'squeakers', and 'Feester' since she was born. She earned the nickname squeakers and mouse when we first brought her home. During that first night, while she was sleeping she would often let out a little squeak like a mouse from her bassinet. Her daddy picked her up and said "aw my little squeaker" and the nickname stuck.”

Carrie Michael says she thinks it’s “a hispanic thing” that she has always called her daughter “Mama.” But her daughter, now 3, has started responding: “I'm not mama, you're mama!”

Lori Sweeting Frederick has plenty of fun names: Babbywabby, booger, boogie, schnookieookums, baby, lulubell, lindsayloo, shortie. And, yes, they are all for the same child. Says Frederick: “She is 26 and is still my boogiewoogie!”

What’s your favorite nickname for your kids? Tell us on our Facebook page.

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who tends to use highly-caloric nicknames, like sweetie-pie and sugar, on any passing kid.

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