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!
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 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!
You may also play white noise over speakers with these playlists:
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.
Here’s a playlist featuring 4 hours of bedtime music for infants:
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:
Not sure what to play and how to choose? This ready-made playlist might be useful for you while you get your own together:
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.
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.