5 Ways Music Can Benefit your Baby
Music hath charms to tame the savage beast – and babies. There have been suggestions of this for decades, but does music really have such a calming and restorative effect on babies?
Lullabies aside, we could all possibly agree that music has an amusing effect on little ones. All you really need to do is to log onto YouTube to have a look at any number of dancing babies – and have a good chuckle while you watch.
Inception - In the womb
We’ve all heard of the mysterious “Mozart effect” music apparently has on babies in the womb, but is there really any truth to the matter? According to research, many of a child’s cognitive skills are already developed long before they are born. The abilities babies possess while in the womb and just hours after birth are impressive:
· Within hours of its birth a baby is able to distinguish between the sound of its mother’s voice and those of other people.
· If played even a few months after birth, a baby is able to remember the music it had listened to while still in the womb.
· The sound of a mother’s voice has the power to change the way in which a fetus experiences feelings.
While many scientists and health professionals do not encourage expectant mothers to place headphones around their bellies whilst pregnant, the understanding that the principles of sound and music alone can impact on a baby positively opens up a potentially huge area for development.
The sound of music and the resultant emotions a woman feels when listening to a musical piece has a direct impact on her baby. Experiments and research done on expectant mothers have shown that fetuses feel sad when their mothers watch a sad movie and happier and more upbeat when she is shown something a bit more positive.
Music works on premature babies
Who hasn’t seen an image of a premature baby and had their heart go out to them immediately? It’s almost as if you want to stand by, cheering on from the sidelines, encouraging the baby to ‘grow!’ It seems as if there is a prevalence of the premature babies in the UK. Extensive research has been done on the subject and it seems that one of the leading most effective methods of helping babies grow and thrive through prematurity is by music therapy.
In a recent study conducted by medical professionals led by the Beth Israel hospital across 11 other hospitals in New York, they found that music therapy has some distinct and very positive benefits on premature babies.
Some of their findings were the following:
- Music had the effect of slowing the premature babies’ heart rates.
- After listening to music greater levels of oxygenation in blood was reported.
- The babies surveyed in the study were calmer and more sedated after the music therapy.
- Motor reflexes in certain aspects showed improvement.
If you would like to know more about the effects of this particular study, please have a look at the following video.
By now it really is no secret that babies are rhythmically inclined. All you have to do is to think about the amount of stimulation they receive through nursery rhymes, audiobooks and stories.
When it comes to babies, music works on something called their ‘vestibular sense’. This is what’s responsible for their sense of balance. Cast your mind back to a time when you ever had to rock a baby in your arms to get them to sleep. Notice how they were lulled into a sense of balance by your rocking movements. This was a motion that soothed babies and got them to go to sleep. A similar effect takes place when babies dance. Their vestibular sense is stimulated and their body co-ordination begins to increase and get better.
Music helps infants learn by association
It is a well-documented fact that children who have been exposed to music from an early age are known to take up musical pursuits like classes and possibly even musically-related careers in later life. The fascinating bit is that even from a really early age, infants are able to see and identify structure in music, specifically in classic music. How this works is that the centers of the brain responsible for understanding and interpreting classical music all reside very closely to neural pathways required for spatial reasoning. With repeated exposure, the effects of listening to classical music are felt for longer and spatial reasoning increases over time.
Encourages the bond between parent and child
The benefits of bonding with your baby
- Healthy, happy and stable children
- Secure self esteem
- Emotionally balanced individuals
- Able to express feelings and emotions in a healthy space.
Bonding with children helps to grow their self esteem and sense of self worth. There are a number of ways in which to enrich the life of your child. One of the best ways in which you can do so is through music. Learning, dance, art studies and recreation can all be encouraged by playing music and having both parties participate.
If parents are continually inviting their children to participate in musically based learning and recreational activities there is a greater amount of time and energy that is invested together and thereby a closer bond is encouraged.
Music or music therapy between parent and child may sound a bit ‘new age’ but if you think about it the relationship between babies, their parents and sounds begins very early in life. What is being said, facial expressions, sound and tone of voice, touch and movement all come together to form a very important basis of development in a child.
Heartwarming! Have a look at this really touching video of a father and his infant son ‘dancing’ to piano at Washington Square Park.
Singing to babies
This is one of the easiest simplest ways in which you can connect with a child. Through repeated doing, you will notice over time that you are able to hold eye contact for longer and concentrate for longer periods of time.
You would also begin to see that once you have engaged a child’s interest, they will be able to try to imitate your actions and motions.
Play with musical instruments
Musical bonding between parent and babies need not just be an audio-only experience. There are a number of toys and baby safe instruments that can be explored through, sight, texture and touch. What could be more stimulating and endlessly fascinating than playing with shakers or a little horn?
Touch, dance and movement
Take a look at this cute and hilarious video of two babies ‘dancing’ with their father! Adorable!
An extension of music is movement! Babies and parents will benefit greatly from enjoying music and movement together. Besides the actual dance and the obvious enjoyment of music itself, dancing offers older babies and parents an opportunity to have a form of touch therapy between them. Holding hands, dancing cheek to cheek and enjoying coordinated movement is just one of the ways in which to reinforce bonds between parent and child.
At its most basic level the bond between parents and babies can be encouraged and grown through the music. Learning, dance, art studies and recreation can all be encouraged by playing music and having both parties participate. If parents are continually inviting their children to participate in musically-based learning and recreational activities there is a greater amount of time and energy that is invested together and thereby a closer bond is encouraged.
If you have been looking for ideas on how to stimulate your child and have a more inspired way in which to connect, we hope that you look at music in vastly different light. Just in case you feel that you need a little more convincing, have a look at a selection of warm, fuzzy, heartwarming and inspiring videos of how babies and toddlers react to music.