Parenting - May 2016

Music is Good for Babies

Research shows that exposure to music from a young age, and musical training, can create new pathways in a young brain. You don’t need to be a professional musician or trained opera singer to give your baby the benefits of music. There are many ways to introduce your children to music, and it is very likely that they will love it! Since music can be good for your baby’s development, here are a few ways to bring music into your baby’s life.

Rich History

Parents and families have likely been incorporating music into everyday life since the first baby was born. Sweet lullabies, fun nursery rhymes, and folk music is a large part of history; and it serves a purpose. Music is calming, facilitates language development, and creates lasting bonds between family members. Recent studies even point to the “Mozart Effect,” which indicates that exposure to classical music may increase a baby’s intelligence. The more music your baby hears, the more connections her brain makes, and the higher the chance that music will play a role in her life later.

Calming Influence

Music can be a great method to help calm and comfort your baby. Studies have shown that babies respond to music and melody in the womb. We also know that hearing is fully developed by the third trimester, and that a baby will recognize—and feel comforted by – familiar tunes after his birth. Classical music has also been shown to slow down heart rates and steady breathing in premature babies. So when your baby is upset, simply singing a soothing song may help stop the tears. Your little one does not care if you’re tone deaf; he simply likes hearing the comforting sound of your voice.

Introducing Music

Here are a few ways to begin introducing your baby to music…

• If your baby is upset, hold her close, sing or hum to her, and rhythmically dance and sway to the music. The combination of movement, music, and close contact can work wonders.

• Listen to a variety of different types of music and pay close attention to how your baby reacts. If your child is cheerful and wide awake, he may like to bop around to pop songs. If he is calm and quiet, he may enjoy some classical music or jazz. If he is upset or sleepy, he may respond best to soothing lullabies.

• Having a baby gives you the unique opportunity to connect with your own childhood. Sing the baby songs that you remember from your own childhood. If you can’t remember the words, ask your parents for a reminder or search YouTube or check out books or music from the library to jog your memory.

• It’s easy to Incorporate music into other routines, so try some of these ideas:
1. Put on the same calming music during baths or baby massages
2. Sing the same lullaby every night for bedtime
3. Play the same set of upbeat songs in the car each time you     drive somewhere
4. Turn on a musical toy while changing your baby’s diaper
5. Listen to special music while preparing dinner or during the     “fussy hour”

• Enjoy the musical experience yourself. Music is not only comforting to babies, it is comforting to their parents as well! You may find that incorporating more music into your daily life lifts your own spirits and soothes your nerves.
As Baby Grows
Your baby’s experience with music will grow as they grow older. It is so much fun to watch your sweet little one begin to wiggle, spin, and sway to the music that she hears. Babies have an innate sense of rhythm to go along with their love of music. Here are a few ways to continue to nurture your baby’s relationship with music as they grow:

• Introduce your baby to simple movement games like Pat-a-Cake, This Little Piggy, and Ring-Around-the-Rosie.

• Have daily family dance sessions where everyone dances along to some upbeat music. Change the lyrics to songs for a funny twist that will get everyone giggling.

• Buy or make some musical instruments to play with. You can make shakers out of a plastic bottle with beans inside, a drum out of an empty coffee can, and a pie pan with a wooden spoon to tap on. You can buy baby friendly instruments at toy stores as well, and be ready for the loud noise to follow!

• Go to musical activities with your child. Many cities offer music and movement type classes for little ones and their parents. You get to meet other families, and your baby will enjoy the regular activity.

• Visit your library or bookstore and check out some “read and sing” books for your baby. The Raffi Songs to Read books are excellent and include favorites like, “Five Little Ducks” and “Baby Beluga.”

Excerpted with permission from The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution: Gentle Ways to Make Good-bye Easy from Six Months to Six Years by trusted parenting author Elizabeth Pantley.