Learn the meaning behind common baby talk phrases like “mam-mam” and “gai-gai” that Singapore caregivers use.

A flurry of changes will mark the first years of your cherub’s life. From teething and crawling to learning to walk and speaking their first words.

In fact, your tot’s language and speaking abilities rapidly improves when they are about 20 months of age. This is the period when junior pronounces more words and also learns new ones at a much faster rate.

So, make the most of this period by speaking to them as often as possible, which will give their communication skills a much needed boost.

While it’s best to use appropriate words to refer to body parts and situations, being Singaporeans, it is also not uncommon for us to invent our own baby lingo. Here’s a list of phrases all Singaporean parents are guilty of using…

Infographic: Rachel Lim


#1 Gai-gai or Jalan-jalan

Refers to going out.

#2 Eee! Or Eeyer

An exclamation uttered on clapping eyes on dirty things, such as a mess the kid has made, or places.

#3 Bom-Bom or Pong-Pong

Refers to bathing baby.

#4 Shee-shee, Wee-wee

Refers to peeing.

#5 Mmm-mmm, Ng-ng, Err-err

Refers to pooping.

#6 Gu Gu Jiao, Gu Gu Bird, Bird bird

Refers to the penis.

#7 Shame-shame

Used to discourage your tyke from exposing themselves or appearing in the nude (usually, the parent will use their forefinger to stroke their cheek downwards several times).

#8 Bok-bok

Refers to the act of patting (pat pat) baby to sleep.

#9 Orh-Orh

Refers to sleeping or napping.

#10 Sio-sio, Sayang-sayang

Words used to soothe/comfort bubba if they have hurt themselves.

#11 Masak-masak

Used to describe a cooking activity during playtime.

#12 Orh-Hor

An empty threat to dissuade your mini-me from doing something they shouldn’t (usually, a wagging forefinger accompanies this warning).

#13 Open Coffee Shop

Used to get a girl who is sitting with widespread legs to close them, such that her knees touch each other.

Main photo: iStock

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