Baby Brains Are Smart: They're Learning Speech While Still in the Womb

A child’s first words can be a magical moment for his or her parents. From the moment she hears her child repeat “Ba ba ba,” a mother encourages her baby to speak. A proud father may interpret “Da Da” as his daughter’s first attempt at saying “daddy.” No matter what the first word is, it is a milestone in a baby’s development. What many parents don’t realize is that language comprehension begins in the womb.

According to this article, researchers in the US and Sweden have determined that babies begin learning their language during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. Though not able to form words, or understand their meanings, a baby becomes conditioned to the patterns of speech from their parent’s language. Newborn infants have distinctly different reactions when exposed to their parent’s native language and foreign words. During the final stage of pregnancy the fetus “is not only taking note of the sounds, but remembering and learning them." Researchers are encouraged by the results of the study, noting the brain’s seemingly endless amount of potential during the initial stages of life.

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