Raising My Child Bilingually – the First 3 Months

My baby is 3 months old – well, that have been the most tiring but also beautiful 12 weeks of my life :). Today, I would like to share with you my thoughts on my first attempts at introducing my baby girl to the English language apart from my mother tongue.

To be honest, I haven’t really started speaking to her in English until the third week of her life. Earlier, I was too overwhelmed by the whole situation to do anything more than trying to survive! Then, I started to talk to her in English during the morning hygiene routine. I simply described what I was doing – “Now, mummy will take off your clothes”, “I will clean you eyes with a saline solution”, etc. At first, it felt very strange and clumsy and I didn’t want anyone to hear it so I avoided speaking English when we were not alone. However, after several days, I felt more comfortable and it turned out that I can come up with many sweet, cuddling words to talk to my baby.

What helped me overcome my initial stiffness and shyness were songs and nursery rhymes. When I was pregnant, I bought two books with CDs (Angielski dla dzieci. Piosenki and Nursery Rhymes), but actually at first it was much more comfortable to play them from YouTube on my mobile phone together with lyrics. If you want to learn some English baby songs, I really recommend subscribing to the HooplaKidz channel. The English nursery songs are so catchy that me and my husband had no difficulties in memorizing them. In fact, my husband found himself humming “Wheels on the Bus” at work.

Our favourites:

  • Old MacDonald had a farm
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider (I got many smiles from my baby girl when I sing it, it seems that she likes it best at the moment)
  • Baa Baa Black Sheep
  • The Wheels on the Bus
  • Hush, Little Baby

I found it much easier to sing in English than in Polish. Maybe the Polish nursery songs are more demanding in terms of singing abilities and I am not a very talented singer :).

At the moment, I talk to my girl for about an hour in the morning when she is freshly awake from her night sleep.  I ask her what she was dreaming about at night, tell her what the weather is like and what we are going to do during the day. Apart from that, I usually sing her English songs during other daily activities (especially after her evening bath). It seems that for now she doesn’t mind me speaking in a different language – she enjoys being spoken to equally in Polish and in English.

What are my plans for the following weeks? I would like me and my husband to speak English in front of our baby girl during the weekends, so that she is able to listen to adult conversations in English. We’ll see whether we will feel comfortable enough to do it :).

When I started speaking English to my baby, I realized that I don’t know some English words for things and processes that are inextricably connected with infancy. You will find some of them below. You may find them useful if you too decide to speak English with your baby.

Polish-English Baby Dictionary – Part I

  • ulewać – spit up
  • ulewanie – regurgitation
  • odbijać – burp
  • smoczek – dummy (GB), pacifier (US)
  • karmienie piersią – nursing
  • przystawianie do piersi – latching
  • mleko modyfikowane tzw. mieszanka – baby formula
  • odstawianie od piersi – weaning
  • otulanie (ciasne spowijanie niemowlęcia) – swaddling
  • kikut pępowiny – umbilical stump
  • przewijak – changing table
  • nakładki na sutki – nipple shields

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos. A picture by Jomphong.

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