28 May 2018

How We're Raising a Bilingual Baby: The Early Months

Spoiler alert: The baby can't talk yet.

And he's not expected to be talking anytime soon.

However, being a multilingual family is important to us, and we know that laying a foundation for language skills begins long before a baby is actually able to talk, so since he was born, we've been incorporating routines into our daily life that will encourage Cyrus to embrace both of his families' languages.

English is more naturally occurring in Cyrus's life, because our community here is largely English-speaking, and Angel and I speak English to each other. For this reason, Spanish is the language that we spend more time intentionally including in his everyday life.

This is what we're doing at this point:

- We read him baby books in Spanish. I have never yet seen a Spanish kids' book available in stores here, but thankfully I have awesome family in the USA who have contributed a variety of bilingual and Spanish storybooks to his library. He's really begun liking books in the last month--sometimes I'll sit down and read him the same book seven or eight times in a row before he starts to get bored of it, haha! A few of the books in our stash will probably have to wait a couple more years, like El Leon, la Bruja, y el Ropero...

- Cyrus loves "dancing" to music with Angel, and most often, the music that Angel plays for him and sings for him are the old Spanish songs that Angel grew up listening to.

- Angel frequently calls his family back in the USA, and, usually, Cyrus is the face everyone wants to see on camera. Because their conversations are largely in Spanish, it's good that Cyrus gets to participate in the video calls in his own way, while listening in on conversations in his dad's family's language.

- Both of us chat with Cyrus in Spanish every day. Angel, more so than I do, but because I want both languages to be languages that our whole family can participate in, I also practice my Spanish on the baby. He is not at all critical of my errors in syntax, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing in language practice.

This is all we're doing for this stage of language development, as it's all that's really age-appropriate right now. I should probably update yearly with what practices get added and what progress is made. With a dad who's a Spanish teacher and a mom who's pretty much obsessed with the English know what Cyrus is in for. Sorry, kid. But not really sorry, because languages are the best.


P.S. Maybe, just maybe, this entire blog post was inspired by a desire to create an excuse to post that video, because I find it ridiculously cute. Especially Cyrus's probably-accidental-response to the question asking whether he wants to visit his tias.


  1. Kids that speak two languages fluently have so many more opportunities in life. I think it is great that you are bringing up Cyrus to be bilingual.


  2. This is great! I know many friends who are doing this with their respective languages and it is fantastic. I wish my Spanish was better to do this for my future kid. I will most certainly try!

  3. That video is precious! What a cutie. :)

  4. That's great you're already thinking about both languages! I wish I had learned a second language growing up, as that's the best time to really get to know it and remember it for life! Love that you're reading him books in Spanish. :)


  5. Raising children bilingual is SO important! My mom raised us speaking Dutch and Afrikaans, while my dad spoke English. We're raising our boys speaking Dutch and English (Ryan speaks German, so he can mostly get it). That way they can speak with our family in South Africa, too :) LOVE this!

  6. This is awesome. And the video is SO cute.
    I was raised bilingual. Though my mom would say trilingual because I had a babysitter who only spoke Spanish. So I ended up speaking Spanish before speaking English and Hindi! I honestly wish my future kids have the same experience.

  7. This is so awesome that you're raising him bilingual! Kids learn languages so much faster than adults do also. I love the video, he's so cute!

  8. I love this! We are going to incorporate Spanish into everyday speaking for my little guy too. Both of my husband's kids tske Spanish in school so we feel it's great practice for them plus Ben learns. Me and my hubs have some Spanish vocabulary as well so it works. Great idea with the books! I need to buy some in Spanish.

  9. OMG, that video is precious! I admire your ability to meet the language challenge with your baby. Great post!

  10. What an adorable baby! I need to learn another language so I can help my own kids.

  11. I love this post! No one in my family is bilingual, and as awesome (and important) as I think learning other languages are, I haven't yet become fluent in anything other than English. So, I have absolutely no experience with raising a bilingual child, and I think it's fascinating to hear about how you're doing it!

  12. That's awesome! I'm really glad that my parents raised me to be bilingual! It's definitely helped me out a lot. :D I wish I'd paid attention more at Chinese school and also learned Spanish too! *-*

  13. Cute baby Cyrus. I hope he can do well with both languages. Being a bilingual is really good especially when you have time to travel from places to places. I wish I can talk in Spanish also.