Research shows that listening to music can create new pathways in the brain. The strength and number of these synaptic connections in a baby's brain depends on stimulation and repetition. Providing repeated musical experiences for her will wire those connections permanently.
While it's wonderful just listening to music, adding movement and interaction really enhances the experience. Babies also thrive on touch, so moving and dancing to music together fosters growth. Music and movement classes can also provide opportunities to listen, move, and share music with others. Together you can experience new instruments, voices, sounds and dance movements. These classes can also be a great way to meet other parents and children from your community.
Your baby has been hearing the world around them since around 20 weeks in utero, and hearing is the first sensory system to develop in the womb. He can recognize your specific voice over others at birth and hearing your voice singing can strengthen his recognition.
Music has even been found to change metabolism. A study conducted found that premature babies who listened to classical music six times a day for five minutes gained weight more quickly than just sounds of voices alone. In addition, another study found that babies in a neo-natal intensive care unit, who were sung lullabies for 40 minutes per day, were found to have more weight gain, lower blood pressure, and a stronger heartbeat, after only four days.
Your voice is the most beautiful voice to your baby no matter if you sing out of tune or off key. She will cherish the moments held safe in your arms, swaying and feeling the music you are creating together. The bonds between you and your baby will be strengthened through music and movement.
Madeleine Tepper, M.A., C.A.G.S is a Freedman Center staff member, a licensed School Psychologist, and a graduate of William James College.