Babies Pick Up Mothers' Accents In The Womb

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Babies learn accents in the womb. Credit: jupiterimages

Have you ever heard a baby cry with a German accent?

You can -- if you listen hard enough, said Kathleen Wermke of the University of Würzberg in Germany to the BBC. She led a research project which concluded that infants pick up the nuances of their mothers' accents, even while in the womb.

Researchers studied the cries of 60 healthy babies born to families speaking German and French. Wermke told the BBC that they could detect the French babies crying with a rising accent while German babies cried with a falling accent.

Wermke added that the research, which was published in the journal Current Biology, is more than just a slightly interesting curiosity. It suggests that human beings are influenced by the first sounds that penetrate the womb. Scientists already knew that unborn children could memorize sounds from the outside world in the last trimester of pregnancy, especially music and voices.

"The dramatic finding of this study is that not only are human neonates capable of producing different cry melodies, but they prefer to produce those melody patterns that are typical for the ambient language they have heard during their fetal life," Wermke told the British news agency.

Researchers concluded that babies don't need well-developed vocal chords to reflect the accents around them. They just need well-coordinated respiratory-laryngeal systems.

"Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's behavior in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding,'" Wermke said.

Related: Babies In the Womb Learn To Like Vegetables

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.