Saturday, 7 January 2012

Bilingual Babies: The first seven months

This post is about the first seven months of a bilingual baby. Obviously during the first seven months a baby can hardly talk but its language is developing so it is also an important time. When Chloe was born my parents came to stay with us for three months so Chloe was hearing English not just from me, but also from my parents 24/7. I even had to remind my husband that he had to speak to her in Spanish!!! My parents were continously talking to her and singing her nursery rhymes etc so I hope that this stands her in good stead for understanding English.

I keep up a constant stream of conversation with her, and ask her questions, just like in a normal conversation even though she can´t answer back e.g. when getting dressed Do you want to wear this pink dress? You like pink, don´t you? etc and have maintained singing typical English nursery rhymes or songs to her. Her father talks to her in Spanish and her grandparents, cousins and Aunt sing Spanish nursery rhymes or songs to her (mainly Cinco Lobitos & Palmas Palmitas!)

I had read that it is good to start reading to babies from about 4 months as it helps their language acquistion so from 4 months onwards we started reading to her in English and Spanish. I read to her in English of course and her Daddy reads to her in Spanish. I´ll be posting more about reading soon.

From about 3 months onwards, Chloe started squealing and babbling and around 5-6months added singing to her repertoire. She is very vocal and can be very loud. I think maybe that we are going to have a good communicator on our hands (at least I hope so!)Apart from the usual babbling sounds, such as ah-goo or ajo , we haven´t heard any da-da´s or ma-ma´s yet. I have been trying to encourage her by repeating da-da,da,da,da Daddy, Mu,mu, mu,mu mummy to her but so far no success. My mum said she heard her say Na, na once but I´ve never heard her say it so I´m not sure. Sometimes when she´s babbling though it sounds like she says aqua or hola and hello but I think that that´s only coincidence or wishful thinking!!! I´ve also started to say "All gone!" after she´s finished her breakfast/lunch/dinner and "ta" when I give her the dummy so she can get used to saying thank you, plus ta is much easier to say than "Thank You".
When did your little ones first start making vowel sounds or saying their first words? What were their first words? How old were they? I´d love to hear about any of your experiences!


  1. I can't remember exactly with my first, but my second never babbled until recently (she's 15 months) and now has some tentative first words which are those that are similar in both languages - mama, dada, tatu (thank you), au (for pain), eeai (for cat), and other vocalisations that make sense in context but aren't words. She's not vocal at all though. Part of the problem with second babies is that they share attention with no. 1, so we haven't read as much to her, I haven't sung as much with her, and I haven't played as much with her.

  2. Thanks for your comment,Cartside. It´s very interesting. I´m afraid of that when I have baby no.2 too!

  3. Aleksander just started really talking at 25 months :) He was always a babbler, although our doctor was actually concerned that he wasn't using age-appropriate babbling or talking early enough. Tja! No worries in the end! He started saying Dada around 9 months and even said one or two other words. But they didn't stick. Dada came back into the picture a couple of months later. And Mama followed. (Although for a long time he said "Ada" and "Ama" and only more recently started using the full words.) Around 18 months came a few more words like dog and truck. But he only said these for a month or so. I don't know if this is "normal" at all??? One thing that helped we waited for his words to begin to flow was sign language. He ended up with about 40 signs! He still uses them a little, which helps as I figure out what new words he is speaking. His first language is definitely English (he added about 75 words in the first month). Oddly enough, he really started talking while we were visiting his grandparents in the Netherlands! But since we returned, I've been consistent again about speaking German with him, and his vocabulary there is rapidly increasing as well (went from about 10 words to 40 or 50 - I've lost count).
    It felt like it took him FOREVER to start talking. Especially once his doctor started putting on the pressure (we're changing pediatricians - for other reasons as well). But now that he has, his language production has absolutely exploded! It seems there was no reason to feel rushed. Although it does help ease his frustrations when he can communicate what he wants!

  4. Thanks Kate! It´s really interesting to see how Aleksander´s language is developing and can give me a rough guide as to how Chloe´s language may develop (although I know every child is different!)It´s great that his vocabulary has increased! I´ve stopped by your blog and it´s great plus it gives me the chance to brush up on my rusty German vocab!!