Recent research has shown that babies are already exposed to and develop an interest in different languages before birth. In their prenatal state the foetus not only learns the different sounds, vowels and consonants but also develops an interest in the spoken language(s) and learns to differ between languages.
If you are planning to raise your child bilingual or multilingual and want to start with it already before birth, here are 3 tips how to help your baby to build a bilingual or multilingual foundation:
Tip 1: Use your languages equally if you are bilingual / multilingual
If you are bilingual or multilingual yourself, try to speak as much as possible in all of your languages during your pregnancy (and of course after your little one is born). Although there might be a preferred or more often needed language, try to speak all languages for an equal amount of time on a daily basis to get your baby used to both / all of them.
Tip 2: Let another person talk to your belly (for example the dad-to-be)
If your partner (or another person who is very close to you and might become an important attachment figure for your child) speaks another language you want the baby to learn, let him speak as much as possible with your baby. This is most effective when speaking directly to the belly as the baby might hear him better. As your partner speaks with your belly, he can also try to speak a bit higher as usually high frequencies are better transmitted to the baby (remember, it’s like under water inside there!).
Tip 3: Expose your belly to music
At last, listen as much as possible to music in the languages you want your baby to learn. First, because it listens to the sound of the individual language. Second, because any kind of music is good for your baby’s language development. Not long ago, it was believed that only music from Mozart and Co would foster the foetus brain development but more recent insights show that it can be any kind of music.
Having these 3 tips in mind, let me give you just another, additional tip: beside all your enthusiasm to help your baby develop and learn from a very early age, don’t overdo it! Do, what would feel good to yourself as well. Would you like to listen the whole day to the radio? Would you like that people constantly talk to you while you are trying to sleep? Just think about what might be interesting to your baby and what’s too much!
If you want to read more about research behind this, the following article might interest you as well: Prenatal language learning: Speaking to your baby during pregnancy