When it comes to bhakti, it is never too early to start. Even a foetus is capable of hearing the name of the Lord, and such early exposure to the Lord’s name is desirable.
The Apastamba Sutra says that after the seemantham ceremony is over, it is important to sing with the veena as accompaniment.
The verse that is sung should emphasise that Lord Narayana is our king, that we are governed by Him.
But will the child inside the mother’s womb absorb this? It will, and we have the example of Prahlada to show us the efficacy of reciting the Lord’s name even to a foetus, said V.S. Karunakarachariar.
When Hiranyakasipu is away, Indra tries to abduct Hiranyakasipu’s pregnant wife Kayadhu. Sage Narada stops him and rescues Kayadhu, who accompanies the sage to his hermitage. There every day Narada sings of the greatness of Lord Narayana, while he plays the veena. So it is as if the instructions given in the Apastamaba Sutra are being followed on a daily basis.
Later when Prahlada is confronted with his father’s cruel deeds, he does not lose heart. His father is not only enraged at his son’s words of praise for Lord Narayana, but also wonders who taught his son to speak thus. Prahlada replies that his words do not come from an instructor. The Lord who resides in him is the one who speaks the words. Thus even at a young age, Prahlada knew that the Lord resides in every one of us.
He tells his fellow students also to recite the name of Lord Narayana. They refuse, but he exhorts them to do so, saying that even if they are not inclined to do so, could they not do it to please him?
This in fact is the way to get children to develop bhakti. Parents could tell their children, that whether they believe or not, could they (the children) not recite the Lord’s name at least to please their parents? The child then will begin to worship the Lord to please its parents.
In course of time, the child will, without being told, worship Lord Narayana of its own volition.
So to start with, the child worships only to comply with a parental request, but in course of time it develops true bhakti.