Raising Kids in a Bilingual Household, With Carolina Hellal

Here at Gerber Childrenswear, we aim to share parenting journeys of all kinds, all year long. We're excited to share Carolina's journey with her littles.

Hello there! This is Carolina Hellal—fashion and lifestyle blogger and mom of two adorable kids! Sofia, my first child who is already four years old and Matias who just turned 14 months. We live in Colorado; my husband and I have been married for 10 years and we are both from Colombia.

We love living in the US, but we also love our native country, so we try to visit as much as we can. We try to go at least once a year because our all of our family is there, and that’s why raising our kids bilingual has always been a priority for us. Since the moment we decided to become parents, we knew we wanted our kids to be able to speak Spanish from a young age.

In a world that’s becoming constantly globalized and diverse, giving our kids the gift of speaking and understanding our native language was always in our plans.

As a bilingual household, speaking in Spanish to our kids comes very naturally. We do it all the time. In fact, when we had our first born, our plan was to speak to her in Spanish most of the time because we knew once she would start preschool, she was going to be exposed to English all the time and so far, we think, it worked perfectly. When Sofia started preschool, she was pretty fluent in Spanish, and now that she is in pre-k she speaks, and understands English very well and loves it too. We are currently doing the same with Matias, and Sofia loves to talk to him in both languages which is wonderful because he is getting used to hearing English at a very young age, and that’s just great for his development.

Carolina's daughter, Sofia, is smiling at the camera while holding a Binibi book, her son, Matias sits in the background.

What we love the most about raising our kids bilingual is seeing how Sofi can communicate so well with her family in Colombia. She loves to call her abuelitos and talk to them all the time. That bond right there between her and our families means the world to us, seeing how much she loves to speak Spanish, and how much she enjoys our culture, and traditions is just so beautiful. When we visit Colombia, she is just such a happy kid, and we hope Matias will be the same too.

As they continue to grow, we will do everything we can to make sure they use their Spanish as much as they use their English. We know the more we help the better, and that’s why we are very constant with a few things we are doing since they were born.

If you are currently trying to raise your kids bilingual, these are three tips can maybe help you:

1. Expose them to your native language as much as you can since day one.

Take advantage of every opportunity throughout the day. When getting ready, when you are in the kitchen, when you are working on a project, etc. The vocabulary input is very important, and the newer words they are exposed to, the better.

2. Reading books in your native language is very important!

Sofi loves to read before going to bed, it’s been part of our night routine since she was a baby, and we have always read books in Spanish every other day. Right now we are loving “Los Pollitos dicen” a book with Spanish and English nursery rhymes by Binibi.

3. Let your kids lead the way.

Pay attention to the things they love to do and play and use it as a tool to introduce new words and expose them to the language you are trying to teach. This one is key because kids learn more when they interact, and we have always noticed how ours remember the words we teach them when we do it while playing their favorite activities.

One thing we always keep in mind is we want them to love Spanish, so we always focus on doing this naturally without making them feel any pressure to learn it.

At the end of the day, what matters the most is raising happy kids, and speaking a second language is an added bonus. Remember to always make it fun and easy for them!

Keep up with Carolina Hellal and her littles on her Instagram and her blog.