Bilingual Babies Are Cuter

Sona Charaipotra
5

Baby With BlocksAt 9 months old, baby Kavya is officially talking. Her first word, as predicted, was "hi!" This came complete with a wave. And she's also already saying "hot" -- as in, "Mama, give me some of that there hot chai." And she likes to say, "No, no, no," but she doesn't actually know what it means. Or at least she likes to pretend she doesn't when she's being naughty.

Now that Kavya's got these first few words down, my husband and I have been trying to figure out how to start teaching her other languages, too.

According to one language resource, most babies pick up their first word between 11 and 14 months, although many start earlier or later and are fine. The same online resource reports that babies raised in multi-lingual homes may pick up fewer words in each language, but when you add up their total words, they tend to end up in the same range as single-language speakers. Another great resource, the Zero to Three organization, notes that consistency is key, and that each baby will learn at his or her own pace.

So we're planning to carefully proceed, essentially by using the same languages with Kavi as we use with each other -- that's Hindi, Punjabi, and English.

And mostly, we'll focus on talking with our little chatterbox, but I have been looking into some learning tools as well.

Browsing the web, it seems like there are plenty of baby-oriented books, videos, and toys in every language you can think of. But while French and Spanish resources abound, Hindi and Punjabi are a bit harder to track down.

I saw some awesome foreign language blocks at this old school little toy store a few blocks from our house, but the store owner checked to see when Hindi language ones will be available. Reportedly, they're on the horizon in 2011. Yay! Meanwhile, I've asked my mom to pick up some more Punjabi and Hindi baby books when she visits India early next year. Kavi loves to read -- and eat -- books, so there should be plenty of flavor coming up for all of us in the next few months.

Are you raising a multi-lingual baby? What is your baby talk strategy?


Image via kspsycho83/Flickr

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