What language does your baby cry in?

Excuse me, is that French you’re crying?

My husband is from Argentina and at home we speak Spanish, English and a lot of Spanglish. We’ve always known that we want to raise our kids to speak both languages. What we didn’t realize is that our kids won’t just speak a language, they’ll cry it. 

The German scientists Dr. Kathleen Wermke has been studying how babies cry since the 1980s and her ground-breaking research reveals that how a baby cries is the direct result of her mother’s speech. Beginning in the 3rd trimester, fetuses can hear the rhythm and melody of their mother’s voice, this is called prosody. The prosody a baby hears in utero is the foundation of their language development. Of course, after a baby is born it is exposed to all sorts of sounds, but the prosody a baby hears in the womb remains the most fundamental and impactful determinant of what language that baby cries in. 

A close friend has a baby 3 weeks younger than mine, and we always joke that my baby cries at least 4 times louder than her baby (lucky me!). Her mother tongue is Japanese, mine is English. Neither of us had considered that difference before, but it appears the data doesn’t lie and unfortunately my baby’s loud cry can (mostly) be blamed on me!


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email


Liz is mom to a baby boy and cofounder of Kunik.


Leave a Reply

Close Menu

Looking for new ways to support today's working parents?