Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scandinavian Toe Rhymes

I'm sure most of use have played "This little piggy…" with a baby's toes or had it done to us. But this isn't the only game to play with babies' toes. When parents in Scandinavian countries play with their babies' toes, they give them silly names. To be sure, the different countries have different names for the toes—in fact, the names can vary widely from family to family.[1] But most of these have some common elements:
  • As you name each toe, you give it a wiggle
  • You start with the smallest toe and work your way to the big toe
  • The name of each successive toe draws something from the name of the previous toe [2]
  • The names of the four small toes are said with a normal voice or a 'baby voice'
  • The name of the big toe is longer
  • The name of the big toe is said with a big, growling voice [3]
These Scandinavian toe rhymes have found their way to the U.S. So if your parents did this with your toes, chances are you have some Scandinavian ancestors. That or one of your ancestors saw someone else doing it, liked it, and adopted it as one of their own customs. Lilli will definitely be learning ours.

The version I remember goes (phonetically):

Peedee Loo…
Loodee Whistle…
Whistle Nobble…
Great Big Hobble Tobble!


[1] See this website and this website for a plethora of variations on this theme.

[2] e.g. it rhymes, repeats a syllable, etc.

[3] This is, of course, the best part of the rhyme/game.


  1. I'm mortified. You said 'you're' when you meant 'your'. Oh, dear. Elyse is already learning our version of the toe game! She certainly enjoys having her toes played with.

  2. I noticed the "you're," too, but I wasn't going to say anything. I didn't know there was actually a cultural tradition behind this. Thanks for sharing! This is Rachel. I don't feel like signing Mike out and redoing my comment.