Did you know that your tone of voice can have a direct impact on your baby’s emotional state?
I’m going to show you a video that illustrates this in a surprising way. But first, let’s talk TONE.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you – You meet someone new and something about the tone of their voice or the musicality of how they speak makes you feel uneasy. You find yourself clawing for an escape or an alibi.
Maybe you also have a distant aunt who yell/speaks in a high pitched voice about the rugellah? (Or maybe it’s just me?)
So what is tone? It’s the way the air flows through our vocal chords. It is the COLOR of our voice. And Intonation is the MELODY in our voice.
Our babies don’t speak our language yet, so all of the information they are getting is through our tone, intonation, and rhythm (the syncopation that naturally occurs in our words and sentences.)
Those of you who have taken Baby in Tune classes know that we spend quite a bit of time learning how to make your tone of voice more resonant and more soothing for your baby.
We do this in a few ways:
- By taking deep breaths between phrases.
- By using the muscles at the bottom of our abdomen.
- By making the voice deeper and creating more vibration.
- By relaxing other parts of the body like shoulders, neck, hips.
- By letting the jaw fall open.
Try this tonight: As you are singing your lullaby notice how your body feels. Try taking in deeper breaths from the bottom of your lungs, filling the sides as well. Relax your jaw, relax your shoulders. See if you feel a difference as you are singing. See if your body relaxes and if your baby calms more easily.
When we sing or speak without the support of our breath and abdomen we tend to feel tense, especially in our throat. And when that happens it doesn’t matter how many times we cycle through Twinkle Twinkle, our baby isn’t going to feel soothed.
But I also had my three subjects at home. In this video you’ll see something surprising that happened with my daughter when she was two months old.
It all began when I started singing a silly ditty I had made up:
“I could watch your eyebrows all day…”
I know. There’s a reason it never made it onto an album. But go with me because what happened next was the surprising part.
I started to sing an improvised melody with the vowel sounds Ah and Oo.
As she listened my daughter increasingly got VERY sad. She seemed to be responding directly to the shift in the music.
I wanted to be sure her mood shifts had to do with the music and not something else so I went back and forth between the eyebrow song and the haunting melody.
I was shocked to find that each time I sang the haunting melody my daughter’s lower lip jutted out, her eyes got red and wet, and her eyebrows went down. She was about to cry!
Elton John can only dream about such an attentive and responsive audience!
I was so intrigued by her response. Her mood seemed to shift as a result of the shift in the music:
So here’s what we can learn from this video and what I’m hoping you’ll take away from today’s post:
- Our babies are listening to our tone, melody, rhythm very closely.
- They are so sensitive to the EMOTION we convey in our tone.
- We can change our tone to make them feel more calm, more soothed and happier.
- Just as our baby is watching us closely, we can watch them closely and learn their preferences and behaviors.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video. How do you interpret my daughter’s reactions? Obviously this is not a controlled science experiment so interpretation is up for grabs. Let me know!
Also, have you noticed your baby’s preferences for certain songs? Tone? Rhythm? Please COMMENT below and let me know.
Do you have a friend who would be interested in learning about how to make her tone, intonation and rhythm more soothing for her baby? Forward this post to her and tell her to join a Baby in Tune class ASAP!
Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!