I can't exactly say that bel bambino is bilingual since he doesn't speak yet, but I hope and I think that he will. I read a little into raising bilingual children but basically we are just doing what comes naturally. I speak to bel bambino only in English and bel marito speaks to him only in Italian. When we are together I speak mostly to bel marito in Italian but if I have to address bel bambino it's always in English. If the 3 of us are having dinner then I often speak to both of them in English (since bel marito already spoke English long before he met me) and bel marito speaks to both of us in Italian.
Sound confusing? Most people here are very positive about me speaking English to bel bambino. I speak to him in English in front of other people and if I am not directing my comment at them then I don't bother to translate. My in-laws are used to me babbling away in English. Sometimes they will ask me what I am saying but most of the time they don't. They have even picked up a few words of English themselves and like saying "bye bye" and "good night" they understand and sometimes say "milk" and I am sure there are other phrases that I regularly use that they get the gist of.
We were out at the park today and bel bambino's little friend who is 2 was waiting for his turn on the slide. "Go go" he called out and I started to laugh since this is what I call out to bel bambino to get him to go down the slide and his little friend, without me knowing, has learnt and now repeats this phrase! It was priceless to hear.
Some people are worried about us confusing bel bambino with our dual language system and I've only come across 1 person, a young person mind you who has told me that she thinks it is silly that I am teaching him English and that I should be teaching him the local dialect! I can't even speak dialect! But she's never left the village, never even taken her children to the beach which is only a 25 minute drive away so I don't pay much heed to her comments.
I have read that perhaps bel bambino will be a late speaker, only time will tell but we are in no rush. The important thing for us is that we know he understands both of us. When I say "where is your water?" bel bambino goes and gets his water. When bel marito says the same thing in Italian, he goes and gets his water. When we ask him in either language to play some music he goes and presses keys on his keyboard. So as far as we are concerned he is well on his way to becoming bilingual.
And he does speak. He says 3 words (that we understand, the rest is non-stop baby babble which maybe are words that just aren't so clear yet.) Can you guess what they are? Ok, no guesses for the first word which was mamma, or ma ma ma as he calls me, slowly but surely I am often getting 2 syllable now. His second word was papa' which I think is normal since P is a little harder to pronounce then M. And his third word. It's banana! How funny. He actually says anana without the B but we assume this was his first word for 2 reasons. The first being that banana is the only word that we use which is the same in both our languages, and the second being that he is half monkey who eats bananas like you can't imagine. If I try to slip a banana into my bag and he sees it he screams ANANA and won't stop until you give it to him to eat!
Now we are waiting for the next word...in which language will it be. Logically I would say it will be milk or water but my money is on either button or shoe. Yes, odd but then again is there another baby out there who said banana as his first non-mamma and non-dadda/papa' word?