Music is a universal language that benefits all, especially our babies (and us parents)! Music is proven to promote brain development, stimulate cognitive skills and memory retention, as well as support language development. Calming music can also help reduce stress and anxiety - very useful when soothing a crying baby during bedtime! 

The list of benefits that babies and our children can receive from being exposed to appropriate music is endless. Long term benefits are proven by a 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute which found that musical experiences in childhood can accelerate the learning and development of language acquisition and reading skills. These long term benefits can carry on into our adulthood.

On short-term benefits, music can help us calm our babies, but don’t forget it also has the ability to energize, motivate, and produce joy. This array of emotions can help infants develop self-regulation skills; all in all, it means happier children!                                                  

With such amazing benefits, how do you choose the right type? We’ve gathered some information (and playlists) for you, so read on for all the info you need to get your baby’s journey with music underway!

What kinds of bedtime music should I choose for my baby?

When it comes to music for your child, it’s important to look at what the music does and helps achieve!

Broadly, there are 4 categories:

  • White noise for sleep (Online playlist or white noise machine)
  • Bedtime music for infants 
  • Music for infant brain development
  • Prenatal education music

White noise for baby sleep

White noise refers to sound frequencies made with consistent intensity. Oftentimes, white noise on baby sound machines mimic the sounds your baby hears in the womb, sounds that have become calming to them, sounds that they have fallen asleep to for 9 months - like the padded sound of the mother’s heartbeat or her breath moving in and out of her lungs. White noise also helps them stay asleep by masking loud or sudden noises. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using white noise to soothe a crying baby to sleep. 

It’s worthwhile to invest in a white noise machine. We recommend buying one that is portable so that you can bring it out with you for naps on a stroller. When in a bind, such as on occasions where you forgot to bring it out, you can create your own white noise by shushing or turning on a fan, or finding a playlist online!

White noise playlist recommendations

You may also play white noise over speakers with these playlists: 

Bedtime music for infants

In addition to white noise, bedtime music or lullabies can also help infants fall asleep. According to music expert Dr Ibrahim Baltagi, the music should be soft, soothing and relaxing to create a calm atmosphere that nurtures their developing sleeping patterns. For example, slow, soft, repetitive music can help slow down an infant’s breathing so that it becomes calmer and deeper. 

Bedtime music playlist recommendations

Here’s a playlist featuring 4 hours of bedtime music for infants:

Music for Infants’ brain development: How music affects your baby's brain?

The first three years of a baby’s life are critical for brain development. Infants require early and constant and consistent stimulation and nurturing to reinforce their cognitive, language, social and emotional development. 

Music benefits language learning when songs have strong rhythmic patterns - the timing of syllables helps listeners define different speech sounds from one another and understand what someone is saying while improving an infant’s ability to detect patterns in sounds. This has been proven by studies conducted by scientists from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS).

Music can be another avenue that helps children develop vocabulary as they also learn to laugh, repeat lyrics, and follow movements sung (think if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!). 

Songs can also help with social development- music encourages children to express themselves as they naturally sway, bounce, clap or move their hands as a natural response to the melody and rhythm. 

While there are many genres of music out there, how do we pick and choose? Here are some ideas:

  • select music with basic melodies and rhythms
  • opt for nursery rhymes and songs that have movements (think Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Itsy Bitsy Spider)
  • lyrics that help with vocabulary (like head, shoulders, knees and toes)
  • and basically anything that puts a big smile on their face!

Brain development for infants playlist recommendations

Not sure what to play and how to choose? This ready-made playlist might be useful for you while you get your own together:

Prenatal education music

Just because your bundle of joy hasn't made an appearance yet, don’t leave them out when it comes to music. Did you know that babies react to music even before they are born? Safe in their mother’s womb, in the last trimester of pregnancy, babies become increasingly capable of hearing a range of musical tones, and studies confirm that babies do react to the sounds they hear outside of the womb.

Although there is no evidence to show that listening to music makes babies more intelligent, it is proven to help with brain development and stimulate the development of brain structures.

Prenatal education music playlist recommendations

Classical music is a popular choice as it helps lighten the mood and promote calmness. Moms can also pick music that has a soft and gentle tune. 

The Importance of Music for Babies

While we’ve been focusing on your babies and infants, remember that parents' self-care is also important during both pregnancy and our child-raising journey. Listening to music has a calming and stress-relief effect on parents as well, hence the expression ‘Calm mother, calm child’.