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Baby See, Baby Do

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"I have an idea. If Lily imitates our behavior, let's just give her some better behavior to imitate."
Lincoln Loud, The Loud House
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Babies like to copy. It's how a lot of them learn. Sometimes, it even leads to them saying their first word!

If a baby copies another person, it usually means (or is taken to mean) that they like that personnote , so the other characters will find it adorable, even if the one being copied doesn't like it. Sometimes, a character will make a remark about how the baby will grow up to be like the one being copied. At times, it can overlap with Licked by the Dog if the person being copied is or has a reputation for being tough or evil and the surrounding characters believe that babies copying someone means they like them.

If the baby copies an undesirable behavior (swearing is a common one and it might lead to Little Brother Is Watching if the baby copies an undesirable behavior from their older sibling), quite often, the older people will try to get them to copy a better behavior, and some adults might try to get their babies to copy them if they want to make them talk.

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The trope is named from the expression "monkey see, monkey do". This article will define a baby as anyone two years old or younger. Anyone three or older (unless they're a species that's still considered an infant at that stage) is not an example.


Examples:

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    Comedy 
  • In one of his specials, Christopher Titus told a story about him driving with his two-year-old daughter and swearing at another driver. The daughter copied the swear and Titus knew he would have to explain it to his then-wife. A week later, he is driving with his daughter again and also gets angry at a driver, but even though he doesn't swear, his daughter does, and it's the phrase "son of a bitch" which he's never said in front of her.
    Titus: And I said, "Oh, we're gonna be having a chat with Mommy when we get home!"

    Comic Strips 
  • Baby Blues: Even though a baby named Wren took a while to say "Mama" and "Dada", she learnt to swear after someone hit his thumb and swore only once.
  • In a Peanuts strip set when Sally was still a baby, Snoopy is dancing and Sally starts dancing too, so Snoopy thinks, "Suddenly, I feel like the Pied Piper!"
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    Fan Works 
  • In The Loud House fanfic Lisa's Birth, the baby Lisa starts repeating words on her first day. First her name after being named, then the phrase "talk right away" after her parents express surprise at her being able to do just that.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Suncered, when Sunset is babysitting Flurry Heart, she accidentally teaches Flurry her first word when she curses out loud after spilling hot milk on her own arm. The rest of the story is about Sunset trying to get Flurry to stop saying "Sunva bish!" before Twilight gets home.

    Films — Animation 
  • Incredibles 2:
    • When Dash says that he wants to fight bad guys and mimes fighting, Jack-Jack also mimes fighting and shouts out some gibberish that ends in "bad guy".
    • When Jack-Jack is being left with Edna Mode, he makes his hair look like hers with his Shapeshifting powers.
  • Jack-Jack Attack: When Jack-Jack is left with Kari, she shows him a flashcard of a fire and he uses his powers to go on fire.
  • Monsters, Inc.: When Mike says a line of dialogue that includes his first and last names (Mike Wazowski), Boo repeats it. She keeps repeating it until it becomes sort of her catchphrase (along with "Boo!" (how she got her nickname) and "Kitty" (what she calls Sully). She also copies Sully's "Shh" when he tells her to stop crying.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: Upon being hit with a weapon that causes Identity Amnesia, Amethyst, unlike the other Gems affected, becomes a Blank Slate who mimics whatever she sees others doing in front of her. It's implied this state is connected to the circumstances of her birth, having emerged from the ground centuries after she was supposed to.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Nanny McPhee, Mrs Quickly, the villain who the father is about to marry, tells the children to "behave" but Agatha "Aggie" Brown, the baby, copies it but pronounces it "Beehive", inspiring her older siblings to sabotage the wedding by pretending that bees are attacking them.

    Literature 
  • In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Duchess is singing a song about beating her baby son when he sneezes and the chorus consists of only "Wow wow wow!", which the baby joins in on.
  • In Babysitting Mode, a book based on Incredibles 2, Jack-Jack does the trick of making his hair look like Edna's to bypass her security system.
  • Berenstain Bears: In "Sick Days", the one-year-old Honey Bear says, "Bedder!" when her family talk about Sister Bear getting better.
  • In the Dirty Bertie story "Bum!", Bertie shouts out the book's title in surprise and baby Molly copies it, saying her first word. He tries to get her to say a different word but it doesn't work.
  • Fudge:
    • Tootsie's first word was "yuck", copying her brother when he was changing her diaper. Later, she tries to say, "New York" after hearing her parents talk about said city and says, "Nu Yuck".
    • When Fudge says "Goodbye" to his shoe, Tootsie says, "Bye-bye, Sue!" which surprises a police officer whose name actually is Sue.
    • When Fudge, Peter, and Tootsie's mother says, "That's enough, Fudge!", Tootsie says, "Enough, Foo!".
  • In Horton Hears a Who!, the joey copies the mother kangaroo's "Hmph".
  • In the Marley books, the baby copies his older siblings whenever they say, "Please", but he pronounces it "Peas".
  • In one of the Ramona Quimby books, Ramona sticks her tongue out at baby Roberta, who copies.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: At the end of "The Reptile Room or Murder", Violet and Klaus are talking about how "brilliant" the murder victim was, to which their baby sister Sunny says, "Brilliant!".
  • In The Witch Family, when Old Witch starts shouting about a spelling bee, Beebee (Hannah's baby sister) shouts, "A bee! A bee!".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: When Worf does a Klingon chant while he and Dax are babysitting O'Brien's one-year-old son Kariyoshi, Kariyoshi starts saying the chant.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dinosaurs:
    • At the beginning of "Out of the Frying Pan", when Fran makes breakfast, Baby pretends to do the same and imitates her. At first, she finds Baby's impression of her cute, but soon she finds it too accurate and unflattering.
    • In "Working Girl", after seeing the trailer for Exploding Cop II, Baby decides that he wants to explode just like the titular character. He instead ends up pooping his diaper.
  • Sesame Street:
    • When the Count was singing to Natasha, she sometimes appeared to copy him (for example, when he mentioned kitty-cats, she said, "Kiddy-dats!").
    • Natasha's first words were "Oh, dear!" copying Snuffy.
    • Inverted when Humphrey copied Natasha once with her babbling.
    • In "Elmo's Potty Time", Baby Bear talks about "wee-wee and woo-woo" (his words for pee and poop respectively) and Curly begins to chant, "Wee wee woo woo! Wee wee woo woo!".
    • In one episode, Curly Bear shouts, "Dinner!" after Baby Bear mentions that his parents are going out to dinner.
    • At one point, a girl tries to get her baby sister to say, "Tortellini" by repeating the word to her. At first, the baby can only say the "ini" part, but when the big sister leaves, she succeeds.
    • One time, Ernie was trying to find similarities between himself and his baby niece Ernestine, and she copied his Signature Laugh.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Mario 64, if Mario dives in front of a baby penguin, the penguin will do it too.

    Web Original 
  • Some websites have lists of unusual first words, a few of which explicitly stem from copying:
    • This list of unusual first words, one of them was "fongool" (a phony cuss word) that came from the baby repeating the submitter.
    • This one has "garbage out" from the mother reminding the father to take the garbage out, "okay" from the father saying, "I'll see you later, okay?", and "cool" because it was sort of the mother's Catchphrase.
  • This one is about how one-year-olds learn from imitating their parents.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "Shelter From the Storm", the Reads pass a message on via whispering in each other's ears, then Kate whispers baby gibberish into Pal the dog's ear.
  • The Loud House:
    • Subverted in "Potty Mouth". The kids think that Lily is copying them saying the "D-word" but really she just wants a donut.
    • Played straight in "Room With a Feud" when Lily copies Lori saying, "literally".
    • In "Changing the Baby", Lily's older siblings want someone to share their interests, so they try and get Lily to copy them.
    • Carlitos Casagrande's defining character trait is that he is often seen mimicking the movements of the other members of the Casagrande family.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • In "Too Much Martha", when the Lorraines are saying, "No!" to Martha when she tries to eat their food, baby Jake joins in.
    • When the Lorraines and their dogs are watching a TV show where a singer sings, "Baby baby yeah!", Jake starts saying, "Baby baby baby!"
  • Milly, Molly: When Ella Bella Boo (Aunt Maude's two-year-old niece) was staying with Aunt Maude, she put on Maude's boots and pretended to work in Maude's garden.
    Ella Bella Boo: Me Maude!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows", Mrs Cake does a "shh" gesture, which Pumpkin Cake copies.
  • Rugrats:
    • When Stu hits his thumb and starts sucking it in "Thumbs Up", the babies copy him.
    • When Tommy sees a Food Fight in "Little Dude", he throws food when he gets home.
    • In "Piggy's Pizza Palace", Tommy gives a dog costume dog commands in Yiddish. He doesn't understand them, he's just doing it because he heard Grandpa Boris say it to Spike.
    • At the beginning of "Naked Tommy", Didi puts a sweater on Spike, which he takes off. Tommy then decides to go naked like Spike and convinces his friends to do it too.
    • In "Finsterella", Kimi plays a game where she decides to copy whoever she sees. She first copies her pet poodle, Fifi, by scratching herself and licking Chuckie's face, then she later imitates Angelica's behavior, which leads the babies to believe that she's being mean to Chuckie, like Cinderella's stepsisters.
  • The Simpsons: In "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", baby Maggie copies the antics of Itchy, a mouse featured in a Show Within a Show parody of Tom and Jerry and accidentally injures her father Homer. Maggie's mother, Marge, in response forms a group to protest the show for being a bad influence on children, eventually persuades the creators to go in a Lighter and Softer direction. The first non-violent episode shown involves Itchy giving Scratchy lemonade, which Maggie copies by giving Homer a lemonade and, as a joke, ominous music plays in the background. Near the end of the episode, when Itchy and Scratchy cartoons go back to being violent, Maggie shoots at a picture of Homer with a plunger gun, imitating the scene where Itchy shoots Scratchy.
    • In "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution", after watching another Itchy and Scratchy cartoon that shows Adolf Hitler running over Scratchy with a steam roller while giving the Natzi salute, Maggie imitates the Natzi salute and Lisa quickly leaps from the couch to stop her.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode "Role Models", Sonic and his friends toss the wrappers from their food into the trash like basketballs. Lady Walrus's infant son Chumley tries to do the same with his bottle but misses the trashcan. Lady Walrus sees and tells off Sonic and co. for being bad role models, but then lets Chumley play on a ledge.
  • Steven Universe: In "Greg the Babysitter", a then-infant Sour Cream can be seen imitating the hand gestures of his mother, Vidalia, as she talks to Greg.

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