Nourishing body, mind, & soul.

Bilingual Babies And Their Developing Brain

on July 25, 2014

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I grew up speaking a second language.  My first language was Italian.  I studied Latin for two years and French for seven years – it comes easy to me… I chose to raise Luna with multiple languages, speaking to her predominantly in Italian while explaining everything in English as well.  There are myths that confusion can occur with the child, but this never happened and it’s not true.  Yes, she has and does use both languages in one sentence from time to time, but that’s normal.  Luna’s brain is far more developed and advanced than most her age – I’m not just saying this because she is my child.  She can differentiate between pitches and tones in music class, more so than the others – pointed out by music teacher.  Luna’s vocabulary is extensive – noticed by adults.  Luna has an affinity for the arts – painting, drawing, coloring… I nourish her body and brain with organic, power packed foods, while not introducing her to any crappy processed foods; and stimulate Luna’s brain as much as I possibly can with language, music, arts, dance, puzzles, shapes, coordination, questioning, etc… So far, so good!!!


Here are reasons why you want to introduce multiple languages to your babies, toddlers, children… Even us adults should learn another language!

 *Babies who are a few months old can recognize language on sight of the speaker alone. From four to six months, babies from both single language homes and bilingual homes can tell the difference between the two languages when watching silent videos of adults reading from a book in two different languages, but by eight months only the bilinguals can do this.

* Bilingual babies are able to determine the differences in pitch and duration of sounds in order to keep the two languages separate.  Their neural response is considerably larger than that of a single language child.  They are able to pick up on these changes as early as 7 months.

* The vocabulary of babies who are bilingual remains flexible as they grow up and boosts their speaking ability as toddlers

* Blood flow (a marker for neuronal activity) is greater in the brain stem in response to the sound. This boost in sound encoding appears to be related to advantages in auditory attention. The cognitive control required to manage multiple languages appears to have broad effects on neurological function, fine-tuning both cognitive control  mechanisms and sensory process

* The multiple languages are always active and competing in the brain, so the brain actually grows stronger due to constant control mechanism usage – switching between languages.  The associated brain region is actually different, neurological structure is changed by multiple language usage as is the way neurological structures process information

* Higher gray matter volume in the left inferior parietal cortex.  White matter volume changes in both bilingual children and older adults

* Increased cognitive abilities such as increased visual and auditory sensitivity. Subcortical brain areas gain a huge advantage with all the sensory processing

* Increased attentive focus and cognition.  This finding relates directly with the prefrontal cortex brain activity networks, which direct the highest levels of thinking and awareness

* Bilingual children, who had five to ten years of bilingual exposure, averaged higher scores in cognitive performance on tests and had greater attention focus, distraction resistance, decision-making, judgment and responsiveness to feedback

* The networks that appear more active in the brains of bilingual children are part of the brain’s CEO networks, called executive functions. These are a constellation of cognitive abilities that support goal-oriented behavior including directing attentive focus, prioritizing, planning, self-monitoring, inhibitory control, judgment, working memory

* Bilingual toddlers are better able to process new information, more attuned to what others are thinking and feeling, more in control of their will and attention

* Just like our muscles become stronger with physical workouts, the developing brains of children in bilingual environments appear to build strength, speed, and efficiency in their executive function networks. This is the “neurons that fire together, wire together” phenomenon that in response to the electrical activations of messages traveling through them when used, executive function networks develop stronger connections – dendrites, synapses, and myelinated axons.

* Reduction in the development of cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Studies of older people suffering from cognitive decline indicate that bilinguals get an extra 4.1 years of clarity before signs of dementia show up and those who develop Alzheimer’s get an extra 5.1 years


Now, go pick up a second language and work that brain!


**Books shown can be purchased on or

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