Listening to music is something that most people enjoy – we all have radios in our car and we even listen to music when we’re at the store.
Music can lift your spirits and make you feel instantly happier if you’re feeling down in the dumps, and soothing music can help to relax you and make you feel calmer.
Babies are just the same. Lullabies have been used for a long, long time to help babies get to sleep and many parents find that their little one fights sleep without the help of a lullaby.
If you’re feeling stressed out and you find that listening to music helps to calm you down, your baby will also benefit from a calmer mother.
Recent research has also shown that playing music to your baby could help to strengthen them. Researchers from Brigham Young University studied the effects of music on 33 premature babies. Piped lullabies were played into each baby’s cot for four days, and on the fourth day, the doctors found that the babies who were exposed to the music had gained more weight, had a lower blood pressure and a stronger heartbeat than the babies who hadn’t been exposed to music.
Although some people believe that playing music to your baby in the womb will make them smarter, there is a huge lack of research to support this. However, it is thought that playing music to your baby can help them to recognise melodies, even when they are too young to even know anything about music. A professor at the University of California found in one study that when “Happy Birthday” was played incorrectly, babies as young as 4 months old could tell.
Listening to music can also help toddlers to learn and encourage them to move and interact, ultimately making them a cheerier baby. Happy music is known to encourage motor skills, and because children learn through movement, this is a rather excellent way of helping them to develop. If you join in with the music and play with your baby whilst listening to music, this also helps to create a shared focus, which will help you to bond with your baby.
Some research suggests that music helps with speech development too. Music and songs have a beat to them and intonations as well as various patterns and all of these things help with the development of speech and speech patterns. Using music can also help to create a link between words and actions – for example, if you sing a song and make actions at the same time, your baby can start to learn that there is a link between the two.
Letting your child play with musical toys or even musical instruments are both excellent ways of improving development. Toddlers who began piano lessons at age 3 or 4 performed much better on spatial awareness tests than those who did not, and author of the study Gordon Shaw suggests that these toddlers may be able to learn complex math problems earlier than those who have had no earlier musical training.
Allowing your baby to play with musical instruments and make their own music is absolutely one of the best ways to ensure you have a happy, creative baby. Children love to make noise, so let them bang a pot or play with a musical toy to make noise without reprimanding them for being noisy and you could find that you have a cheerier baby.
Plus playing some upbeat music for your baby whilst dancing will make them giggle and help your weight loss – so a win win!