Music is amazing. It energises, unites and affects how we’re feeling. Everyone enjoys a little music, including babies. Singing them nursery rhymes and playing with songs strengthens our bond with our children and provides multiple health benefits. Did you know that babies who were exposed to music in the womb have more advanced motor skill development? And that nursery rhymes help emotional stability?
Music estimulates them and helps you
Here are a few reasons why music is a family’s best ally.
- If you listen to music when you’re pregnant... baby does too. A baby’s ear is completely formed inside the womb at 28 weeks. Hearing is the only sense that can be stimulated before birth. So when you’re listening to a playlist, baby can hear the soft echoes of your tunes. Which will stimulate them. Enjoying yourself produces endorphins, the source of natural well-being. And as you’re connected to your baby, they’ll share your enjoyment. Just keep an eye on the volume, your neighbours may not be so keen...
- Heard of the Mozart effect? Studies show that listening to Mozart has a positive effect on the health of premature babies. It can help them relax and even gain weight. There’s also been a lot said about how it can influence their intellectual development (reasoning, maths, spatial awareness, motor skills, etc.), supporting activity in the cerebral cortex. Mozart is a great option, but he doesn’t have to be all you listen to. Try other composers and styles, from folk music to Queen songs (another big hit) and classic nursery rhymes. Music is baby friendly.
- Singing to your foetus isn’t crazy. Sing to your little one when you feel ready. When you sing, the slow pace of your voice conveys love and tranquillity. Experts confirm that this musicality helps babies be more relaxed, increases immune activity and even allows them to concentrate for longer periods. Not singing doesn’t mean your baby will experience the opposite. But you will extend your emotional bond if you do.
- Music tames wild beasts... and baby. Repeating the same song in their first few months makes babies feel safer and more serene. It makes them happy. So if your little one is restless or doesn’t sleep, use nursery rhymes and classical music to help them. They can follow the rhythm of rocking, or if you dance gently while cuddling and stroking them in time to the music. This shared moment will gradually turn into a game of sound and physical expression. Try it with the whole family!
- Listening teaches us to talk. Lots of listening. Just as babies will babble before they speak, they may also babble a song. Music is the first door to language. You can help them practice diction and their first words by singing a refrain or naming the star of their favourite nursery rhyme. You may also want to brace yourself for having to listen to their favourites over, and over again.
- Remember and learn. If you add movement to songs, your little one will remember the pattern, which will help them remember the words. It fixes things in the memory. They will also come to associate specific songs with specific moments, like bedtime, lunchtime... and playtime! It allows you to instil a few habits until you recover your own (vital) hours of sleep. Because it’s time for everyone to catch a little rest when the baby falls asleep.
- Gestures are a form of communication. Babies may be able to communicate better when music forms part of their daily routine. Numerous studies have shown how little ones enjoy making music using basic home-made instruments like tambourines and squeaky hammers, and that they rely on gestures to move to this music. Don’t be surprised if your one-year old grabs a banana and uses it to pretend to talk on the phone, or if they squeeze their teddy bear to show their love. They are a force of creativity!
- Distinguishing between various sounds. Didn’t you learn the noises that dogs, cats and lions make through nursery rhymes? Or what a piano, guitar or a trumpet sounds like? Musical stimulation gradually teaches little ones how to tell the difference between various sounds. They will gradually get better at detecting, distinguishing and listening to them all.
Music is fun and you will have fun together. Babies are unaware of the benefits and the origins of that annoyingly memorable song. They simply experience the music, which they find positive, exciting and natural. So make the most of all your musical resources, sing and dance with your little one, and practice a few of those old nursery rhymes. It’s time to adapt your playlist.