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Bilingual Benefits

The founder of Bilingual Birdies gives us the scoop on introducing a new language to your baby.

Bilingual Benefits

We’ve all heard about the wonderful benefits of children and adults learning a second language, so naturally you may be thinking of giving your babe a head start. But like anything you probably have questions before diving right in. Especially if you happen to be monolingual.

“How soon is too soon? Will he or she get confused? And what if I don’t speak any other languages?”

The founder of Bilingual Birdies, Sarah Farzam, has the answers.

Is it ever too early to introduce a second language?

It's really never too early to begin learning a second languages. Children less than a year old have a 63% chance of learning a second language versus a 1% chance as a teenager. There are myriad benefits to begin learning at a young age. They range from increased cognitive development to enhanced social emotional skills and beyond. Learn more here.

When is the optimal time age to introduce a language?

Below five years of age is the most effective for language acquisition. Luckily, there are some really unique ways to connect with young children and create a fun learning environment for them. Part of why we teach through music at Bilingual Birdies is because music evokes emotion and emotion triggers memory. Children naturally respond so well to music, which in many ways is the universal language.

Does every family member have to speak to my baby in the same language?

Super awesome tip of the day: If one parent speaks to the child in one language and another parent speaks in a different language the child will be bilingual in both languages. The key is to stay as consistent as possible and keep things feeling natural and true.

What if our baby's caretaker speaks to my baby in a different language but we don't?

One of the greatest gifts your caretaker can give your children (in addition to the incredible task of raising them during the day) is to only speak to them in their native language. Bilingual caretakers are an excellent way to reinforce language learning in the home. If you don't speak the same language as them, it's ok, it's never too late.

Will my baby get confused?

Your baby will not get confused. A recent study by psychology professor Dr. Werker from the University of British Columbia showed that babies born to bilingual mothers not only prefer both of those languages over others — but are also able to register that the two languages are different. So, just go for it! Your baby is experiencing so much every day and his or her brain will develop to a much stronger level when two or more languages are introduced.

Is there any reason not to introduce a new language?

Honestly, in this day and age it's almost as if your child will be behind if you don't introduce a new language.

Is there such a thing as introducing too many languages to baby?

There is no such thing as introducing too many languages to a baby. Even in their infancy, babies are able to sort out more than one language at the same time. A study under Dr. Patricia Kuhl from the University of Washington states that babies as young as 10 months are able to discriminate sounds in more than one language. I will give you the most practical example I know: myself. I learned Spanish from my mom and Farsi from my dad while I was exposed to English in my daily life growing up in a multicultural home in Los Angeles. And I turned out, just fine!

What if I want to learn a language that my baby is learning? Do you have a few tips to do this?

Learning with your baby is a fantastic idea! Mommy and me classes like the ones we offer at Bilingual Birdies are a super positive bonding experience and really leave both mama bird and baby bird feeling like they are gaining cultural awareness together. Other resources like our Bilingual Birdies CDs or even DVDs such as Little Pim and toys from Oznoz are a great tool to use in the home and are a fun way to learn.

What are some easy ways to begin introducing a language?

The best way to introduce a language to your little one is to first identify what they like and what is also fun for you. If the idea is to make the learning process a family affair then note what things everyone at home enjoys doing. From there you can tailor the joy of language learning to meet the needs of your own nest. If it's dancing, find awesome songs in Spanish and have a nightly dance party in the living room to different kid-friendly salsa and cumbia tracks. If it's food (who doesn't love food?!) then pick out the best restaurants in Chinatown and take family field trips with a mission of learning and practicing new words in the second language found on the menu. One technique is to label things in your home in the second language as a reminder to adults to read those words aloud in a fun repetitive way. Flash cards work too! But one of the best ways create a lasting love for learning a second language and encourage fluency later in life is to build a community around that intention. Find other friends (bilingual or monolingual) who are also interested in teaching their kids a second language and plan weekly play dates with them. Set up a comfortable space where your child sees everyone on board and excited for this bilingual adventure, and they will be too. Bilingual Birdies offers in-home private lessons where we send our outstanding bilingual musicians to you on your ideal day and time to lead the party in your choice of Spanish, French, Mandarin, Hebrew or English (for ESL families). Kids get to learn while they play and we've found this is truly the best way for them to retain the new information. What could be more fun than learning through live music, movement, dance, puppetry and games?

Is it all or nothing or will my child benefit from learning a few words and commands in a different language?

It's definitely not all or nothing! I get this question a lot especially from moms who aren't quite completely bilingual but still throw in some words here and there with their babies when they can. At such a young age, early childhood is a time to instill a love of language learning in your baby and get them excited about mastering this challenge over time. The feeling around the second language has to be established as a positive one (via music, food, friends, etc) and this can be done even with limited introduction to new vocabulary. My Mexican mom used to only sing to me in Spanish before bedtime or when I had a cold since the languages in our home are Farsi (my dad is Iranian) and English. It wasn't until later in life when I moved to Mexico City for a year after college that I became fully fluent in Spanish. The foundation was set in my childhood and made it that much easier to get it together as an adult.

Sarah Farzam is the Founder and Director of Bilingual Birdies, a foreign language and live music program for young children in New York City. Bilingual Birdies teaches Spanish, French, Mandarin, Hebrew, and English as a Second Language through their live music curriculum. The company strives to encourage cross-cultural awareness by fostering a love for language and culture. Sarah launched Bilingual Birdies seven years ago with one location and three children. Today Bilingual Birdies has over 50 preschool partnerships and educates nearly 2,000 children per week, with a staff of 25 talented bilingual musicians. Bilingual Birdies has been featured on the Today Show, CNN, BBC, and in the New York Times as the premiere way to introduce children to a foreign language in the early childhood classroom. Most recently Sarah has developed Culture Academy, an online teacher training program which she hopes to offer to large childcare agencies in the US and abroad who are interested in implementing Bilingual Birdies methodologies in their own classrooms. She is trilingual due to her Mexican mom and Iranian dad and believes that all children should feel empowered to know that they being bilingual is one of the most awesome things in the world ever. She's also a yogi and planning to launch Bilingual Birdies in San Francisco in the winter of 2015. bilingualbirdies.com

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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20 baby names that mean miracle—and will never go out of style

In these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Meaningful baby names will never go out of style. Whether you decide to name your newborn after a beloved family member, or are simply searching for a name that reflects the journey that led you to parenthood, whatever you choose will stick with you for the rest of your—and your child's—life.

Almost every parent, at some point, refers to their child as a "miracle," though the meaning of the word itself might differ depending on who you're talking to. Miracle is a beautiful word that can double as a name, but there are many other thoughtful baby names to choose from if you're considering giving your baby a name that suggests an extraordinary event, a gift from above or a rare wonder.

Whether you're looking for a familiar name with a miraculous history, such as Aaron, or you're searching for a unique name that means "rare miracle," such as Ender, there are so many choices for both girls and boys that are equally as meaningful as they are interesting. Choosing a baby name with the special meaning of "miracle" is a signal of hope and optimism—and in these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Putting a unique twist on a beautiful classic isn't hard with these baby names that mean "miracle."

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