Parenting in French

Bringing up your child in a French-speaking environment has many benefits. In addition to learning another language, your child will also be immersed in a culture that values politeness, order, and family togetherness.

However, to do it correctly, you don't only need to learn the necessary vocabulary but also be aware of some tips French parents use with their children. So, to get you started, we've prepared this short guide for parenting in French. Read on to learn about baby talk in French, all the necessary childcare words, as well as some helpful parenting techniques.

French for “Baby” – Parenting Vocabulary

If you're looking to raise your child in a French-speaking environment, it's important to know the necessary vocabulary. This will allow you to not only communicate with other French parents freely, but also use French parenting sources a bit more fluently. Here is a list of French baby words and phrases to get you started:



la chambre de bébé

baby room, nursery

le biberon

milk bottle


to nurse

le rot


les couches

nappies, diapers

la tétine, la sucette


la poussette


le landau

a pram, baby carriage

le porte-bébé

baby carrier

le lit de bébé


la nourriture pour bébés

baby food

la poupée


le berceau


le siège auto pour bébés

baby car seat

le trotteur


la bavette


le talc pour bébés

baby powder

la pommade calmante

baby cream

le talc


la crème pour les fesses

anti-rash ointment

le matelas à langer

changing mat

la garderie

daycare, childcare

la garde d’enfant, une nounou


l’aire de jeu


Parenting in French

Baby Talk in French

Now, just like English speakers, French people have a whole set of vocabulary used with babies – baby talk. Most of these are words usually derived from regular French words and reduced to one syllable repeated twice to sound simpler and cuter. Of course, these are used mostly when the baby is too small to use actual, longer, and more complicated words.







tata, tatie

auntie; short for “tante”


uncle; short for “oncle”

mémé, Mamie

grandma; short for “grand-mère” or “bonne maman”

pépé, Papi, Papy

grandpa; short for “grandpère,” “grandpapa,” or “bon papa”

le dodo

to sleep

au dodo!

go to bed!

fais dodo

go night-night

le petit dodo

nap time

le lolo

milk; baby talk for “le lait”

guili guili

tickle tickle

le nounours

teddy bear; baby talk for “un ours”

le doudou

blankie (or stuffed animal) that a child goes to sleep with

le joujou


le pipi


faire pipi

to go wee-wee

le caca, le popo


faire caca

to go poo-poo

le prout

fart; derived from “une flatulence” (formal) or “un pet” (informal)

le zizi, la zézette

weenie, private parts

le bobo

a boo-boo; used for a cut or bruise

le minou


le toutou


le dada


And, most importantly,




sound a French baby makes, similar to “googoo gaga”

Parenting in French

French for Kids: How to Bring Up a Bilingual Child

But, teaching your child the French baby talk and using French parenting vocabulary yourself might not be enough. Of course, if the baby is surrounded by French-speaking children, this is the best type of immersion – but not everyone has that chance. Fortunately, there are many methods for learning French at a young age.

If you're raising a child in a bilingual home, here are 4 simple tips that should help you teach them some basic French:

  • Play French songs, nursery rhymes, or French audiobooks; read French books together; or watch cartoons in French together. You can also opt for bilingual resources with English translation.
  • Encourage the use of French by providing bilingual toys, labeling objects around the house in both languages, and pointing out things in French when you're out and about.
  • Start with teaching simple words and phrases like “bonjour” (hello), “au revoir” (goodbye), “s'il vous plaît” (please), and “merci beaucoup” (thank you very much).
  • Consider hiring a French-speaking nanny or enrolling your kid in a French-speaking kindergarten when they’re older.
Parenting in French

5 French Parenting Techniques

Schedule Some Family Time

It’s important to spend some quality time with your kids, especially when they’re young. But, it can be hard to find the chance if both parents work full time. One solution is to schedule family time into the week, so that everyone knows when they can relax and enjoy each other’s company.

For example, have a family dinner every day during the week, where the whole family puts the screens away and focuses on one another. Or, per French tradition, invite your extended family over for a Sunday lunch.

Serve Your Child Some Real Food

The French tend to serve their children smaller portions of the same food that they’re eating. So, if the adults are having roast chicken, veggies, and potatoes, the kids will eat those same things – just in smaller quantities.

This approach has several benefits. For one, it helps kids learn to appreciate different types of foods and tastes. And, secondly, it prevents them from developing bad eating habits, like always needing sweets or processed snacks.

Parenting in French

Allow Your Kid to do Difficult Things by Themselves

In France, it’s common for kids to walk or ride their bikes to school by themselves – even when they’re very young. This might sound dangerous to parents who are used to driving their kids everywhere. But, in France, it’s seen as an important part of growing up.

French parents teach their children to be independent from a young age. For example, kids are encouraged to dress themselves, brush their own teeth, and tidy up their toys.

Allowing your kids to do things by themselves – even when it’s hard – helps them develop a sense of independence and confidence. So, don’t be afraid to let your kid walk to the park alone or ride their bike to a friend’s house – of course, after a certain age.

Teach Them Polite Manners

In France, good manners are very important. That’s why parents make sure to teach their kids how to behave in polite company.

For example, French children are taught to say “hello” and “goodbye” when they see someone, as well as say “please” and “thank you.” Of course, every family is different. But in general, French parents expect their kids to mind their manners and behave well in public.

Let Them Experience Reasonable Hurts and Frustration

It’s normal for kids to experience some frustration and disappointment in life. And, in France, parents don’t try to protect their children from these negative emotions. Instead, they teach their kids how to deal with them in a healthy way.

For example, if a child doesn’t get the toy they wanted, the parent might say something like, “I’m sorry you’re feeling disappointed. Let’s see if we can find something else that you like.”

In other words, French parents allow their kids to experience negative emotions – but they also help them understand and cope with those emotions in a positive way.

Bottom Line

Parenting in a foreign language can be a daunting task, but with a little effort, you can raise bilingual children without too much trouble. Start by pointing out things in French when you're out and about. Then, start teaching simple words and phrases that will help your child get around while they are still learning the language.

And, of course, consider implementing some French parenting techniques in your life if you want your child to be brought up as a real French person. Remember, though, that every family is different – find what works best for you, and go from there.

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Beata Hardzei

Beata Hardzei loves languages and shares this passion through her writing. Speaking English, Polish, Russian, and French, she explores the nuances of foreign languages, aiming to make learning feel more like a journey than a task. Beata's background as a teacher and translator enriches her insights, helping you see language learning as an accessible, enriching experience.