How Babies Become Bilingual at Seven Months

It is remarkable that bilingual babies can learn two languages at the same time other babies learn one. On average, bilingual and monolingual babies start talking around age 1 and can say 50 words at 18 months. But, the question is how?


According to a research from the university of British Columbia and Université Paris Descartes, from the age of seven months babies are able to distinguish two languages with different grammatical structures.

It shows that infants in bilingual environments use duration and pitch cues to distinguish between two languages that have opposite grammatical structures. Even if they do not understand the meaning of the words, they seem to be able to tell the difference between nouns, prepositions, verbs, and articles based on sound qualities.

According to Janet Werker, UBC psychologist and co-author of the study, babies know the differences between two opposing languages and use them as cues to tell one from the other in as early as seven months. Typically, languages have two grammatical structures – verb-object and object-verb. For example, the English phrase “Eat the banana” has the verb before the object. In Japanese, the equivalent phrase is “Ringo o taberu” which directly means “Apple eat”. Notice that the object comes before the verb.


Previous researches also showed that babies use frequency of words in speech to know their significance, so essentially they are learning by counting. For example, the words “the” and “with” come up more frequently than other words. However, babies who are growing up bilingual need to develop new methods to cope with two languages.

Italian researchers also wondered why there is no delay and found out that being bilingual makes the brain more flexible. According to their studies, bilingual babies learn two kinds of patterns at the same time. So, if you speak two languages at home, you do not need to be afraid your baby will have delayed speech development, as your baby is well-equipped to keep those languages separate.

These researchers hope to reassure parents that learning two languages at the same does not cause any delay in speech development. In facts, raising a bilingual child has a number of benefits. Learning two languages has been linked to earlier reading, better problem solving, and creative thinking compared to monolingual kids.

Do you speak two languages in your home?

Written by Team Health & Parenting

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

5 Things Not to Say to a Toddler (& What to Say Instead)

As your baby grows older, parenting gets trickier. These days, you’re not worried about the logistics of diaper changes or which diaper cream to use, the problems you encounter are growing more complex. You may be starting to think carefully about how you talk to your child. As your baby becomes a toddler, the words you say could have a big impact on his perception of the world. Choosing your words carefully could also save you a lot of hassle, so it’s worth taking a moment to think before you open your mouth. Here are five things you shouldn’t say to a toddler (and what to say instead):

  1. Be careful!

Toddlers are a little unsteady on their feet and sometimes they stumble. For a parent, this can be nerve wracking, and you may find yourself shouting “Be careful,” a lot. While this may seem like a good way of keeping your toddler accident-free, your words could actually distract him from the task in hand, leaving him more likely to tumble. Toddlers and babies are good at picking up on your emotions. Even from across the playground, your toddler can sense that you’re scared by the sound of your voice. This, in turn, could then leave your toddler feeling scared as well. If you can’t keep quiet, try saying “hold on tight,” or “one step at a time”.

  1. Don’t

Toddlers (and, in fact, adults) respond better to dos than don’ts. It’s just easier for our brains to understand a simple instruction than try to work backwards from a don’t. Instead of saying “don’t run” you could say “walk please”. Instead of saying “don’t draw on the table,”, you could say “paper is for drawing on.”  It may not come naturally at first, but after a bit a bit of practice you should find that it gets easier. You’ll also be able to see the benefits of this one straight away. Why not challenge yourself to a week without don’ts and see how you get on?

  1. I’m busy

Being interrupted every five minutes can be frustrating, especially when you’re in the middle of something important. Try to remember, however, that children are only little once. Before you know it, that little boy will have grown into a teenager and you’ll be left wondering what’s going on inside his head. Telling him you’re too busy to talk now could instill the belief in him that you don’t want to hear what he has to say. It’s ok to be busy, but try to explain nicely, “I need to finish this job, it will take five minutes, then we can play together.”

  1. Hurry up!

Children have no real sense of urgency, and that is particularly annoying when you’re running late for work or are about to miss your train. If you often find yourself pleading with your kids to ‘hurry up’, then you’ve probably already noticed how ineffective this tactic is. Instead of demanding that they hurry up, incentivize them to be faster. That doesn’t mean offering bribes, instead it means turning it into a game. This theory can be applied to pretty much all toddler dilemmas. Toddlers love to play and utilizing this will make your life easier. See who can get their shoes on the fastest, or do the funniest walk on the way to the train station.

  1. No

The thought of parenting a toddler without using the word ‘no’ probably sends shivers down your spine. Perhaps you’re not even aware of how often you use it, but that word is likely to be a regular feature in your day to day life. Does that matter? Yes, the more toddlers are told no, the less attention they pay to the word. If you use it only in times of danger, your toddler is likely to take it seriously. If, however, ‘no’ is the most commonly used word in your vocabulary, your toddler will, in time, simply ignore it. Instead of just saying ‘no’, try calmly explaining why you don’t want your toddler to do something. You may be surprised to discover how many times you automatically try to stop your child doing something for no real reason.

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

Let’s Read, Baby!

It’s never too early to start thinking about cultivating a love of reading. But how can you do this with the little bundle all swaddled in a blanket in the cradle?

Read to your baby. Even if you’re reading the New York Times to your newborn, he will not only enjoy hearing your voice, but will learn about sounds and patterns of sounds. Change the inflection of your voice, and read with feeling.

Tell your baby stories. You don’t need to be an expert storyteller or to know every detail of a fairy tale. Simply use your imagination and tell your baby a tale. Even if you’re talking about grocery shopping or changing his diaper, your baby will attend to the changes in your voice and will expand his vocabulary.

Your very young baby will prefer faces to any other pictures, so choose books accordingly. Consider books with textures and bright colors. As your reading, change the inflection of your voice, or make different voices for the different characters.

Make reading routine. Read a book or two to your child before nap time or bedtime every day. Be sure to follow your baby’s cues for when he’s had enough, though. Make sure your children see you reading, too! Children will imitate what they see you doing regularly.

Once your baby can start to handle books on his own, make sure he has lots of board books he can play with. He may chew the edges and not really understand going from start to finish, but the more you read the books out loud with baby in your lap, the more familiar he will become with a routine. After a while, try skipping a page of his favorite book, and you’ll see that he has already memorized it!

As your baby gets older, be sure to keep lots of books at baby-level (not on a high shelf). Allowing your baby to manipulate and play with books, in addition to reading books to him, will set him on a path to the love of the written word.

Take your baby to the library. Often the children’s department will have programs for different age levels. Ask a librarian for book recommendations, and tell your baby all about the wonders found behind a library’s doors.

Literacy is about more than just reading words on the page. Understanding conversation and context are also part of the equation. Every interaction you have with your baby – from birth on – helps baby to read signals around him, from body language to feelings to vocabulary and more.

Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.