What’s so good about music, anyway?

Dear tuned-in parents,

As you know, I’m sold on music as a way to communicate with our babies.

Let’s say I’m a 10 out 10.

This Tuesday Tune-in is for any of you who are floating around a 6 out of 10.

Basically this is for those of you who are saying: “I feel like my baby responds to music but how can I be sure that it is the most effective way to soothe, play, enrich, and communicate with my baby?”

Today, I want to break it down so you can see why I’m a 10 out of 10 all the way.

Let’s start with the research. If you know me, you know that my background in psychology makes me quite the research lover/nerd.

Studies show babies who hear music respond to it, notice its patterns, prefer to be in sync with it, like it more than spoken words, sleep better with it, feel soothed by it and increase their language development.

Now, don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see what happened when these studies were performed…

 

1. Babies respond to music even before they are born.

While you were pregnant, you may have read some blogs telling you to put music headphones on your belly because your baby was listening. How do they know that? Because studies like this one in 2013 have shown that little ones remember the music that was played for them in utero.

Their responses were shown through heightened alertness, lower heart rate and fewer movements when they heard the music again.

 

2. Musical patterns and changes can be detected by babies.

This study is so cool. Our babies are little maestors.

Neuro research has shown that newborns could detect when a downbeat was missing from a drum pattern. You can see this by the change in brain activity during this 2009 study.

It means that babies possess a cognitive skill called beat induction, a uniquely human trait that allows us to detect and follow rhythmic patterns.

 

3. It’s not just adults that like moving to the rhythm.

You can dance, but you wonder – can your baby?

You’ve seen her kicking her legs and you could have sworn it was to the beat. Well it turns out it was.

A 2014 study shows that our babies are listening closely to the music around them and that they have a preference for being in sync with what they hear.

Not only that, they can MODIFY their movements according to the beat. WOW!

Another take away from this one-  Your baby prefers to be in sync with the external rhythm. So when you are bouncing your baby, she prefers you to bounce to the rhythm of a song .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mama, dada: Don’t say it. Sing it.

Ever feel like your infant listens longer when you sing to her instead of speak to her?  This 2017 study proves you’re right.

It was performed with 6 to 10-month-olds and speculated that the reason might be that song holds more emotion and babies are aware of that.

I’d add that babies prefer to hear the voices that they heard in utero, which are yours.

 

4. Music helps babies sleep.

Preemie babies in the NICU who are given music interventions have been found to sleep better, according to this 2016 study.

 

5. Babies feel soothed by music.

I don’t have to tell you that this is significant. This is what we spend much of our days doing in different ways: Soothing baby.

This 2003 study shows that a mother’s singing to her babies has the power to regulate her babies emotions – to calm and soothe them.

 

6. Music makes us – babies and parents – happier.

This happens through the release of endorphins, both for the baby and us.

 

7. Playing & interacting with music improves language development.

Finally, studies like this 2012 one show that babies’ brains benefit from music lessons, even before they can walk and talk.

(And I know of a pretty great music lesson for babies you might want to try 🙂

 

So let’s recap.

  1. Our babies are born with a sensitivity to music. You could even say that music is innate. This is a uniquely human quality.
  2. Our babies can and prefer to be in sync with the music they hear. You could say but our babies are born with an ability and a love to dance to music.
  3. Our babies prefer hearing us sing rather than speak. This is matters If you are thinking about the best way to communicate with your baby it’s going to be through melody rather than speech.
  4. Our babies feel happier when they hear music.
  5. Our babies feel soothed when they are sung to.
  6. Our babies improve language development through music.

 

That’s why I’m a 10 out of 10 when it comes to my confidence in music being the best way to connect with your baby.

But that’s not all!

The benefits that apply to your baby with music also apply to you.

We also feel regulated when we hear music. It can make us feel happier as well as calmer. And you already know that a happier and calmer parent makes for a happier and calmer baby.

 

I’ll leave you with this quick visualization:

Imagine you were saying to your baby, “I love you, now go to sleep.”

Now imagine you’re singing it: ” I love you, now go to sleep.”

Be honest. Is the second version more emotional? More soothing? More connected to your baby?

 

If the answer is yes, then you know exactly you are on the right path. That a musical journey with your baby is a beautiful way forward.

Play devil’s advocate for me. Why else do you feel less than 10 out of 10 in using music to connect with your baby? Comment so I don’t think everyone thinks like me!

Know another research lover/nerd? Send them this post and make their data-filled days.
They can sign up for the Tuesday Tune In right here:

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