Christina Jones PGDip Mus is Director and General Manager of Wiggle And Giggle Music and Wiggle And Giggle Kindy Hire. Christina is a certified doula with a special interest in prenatal stimulation and is also able to refer babies as young as 9 months to a speech pathologist. For more information Christina can be contacted on 0448 293 650.
Time and time again people are amazed when I tell them how babies under 12 months old can benefit from music at such a young age. In Dr Thomas Verny’s Book – The Secret Life of The Unborn Child, it suggests “At the very least, a pregnant woman who spends a few minutes each day listening to soothing music could make her child feel more relaxed and tranquil. At most, that early exposure might create in the child a lifelong musical interest”.
Fact: Studies have shown that babies can ‘hear’ inside the womb and that they are already ‘learning’ and beginning to memorise rhythmic and melodic patterns in your voice and types of music that they are exposed to by the third trimester of pregnancy. They’ve even found that babies can discriminate between different genres of music and even display a preference for music that they have been exposed to in the pregnancy.
A detailed study in the journal “Current Biology”**, found that babies can distinguish between languages with different rhythms and pitch changes and that they mirror the actual rhythms of their native tongue. It is in the womb, long before babies can physically reproduce sounds themselves that they begin picking up elements of language.
Newborn babies do not yet have command over their voicebox, however as this starts to happen, they will often start by trying to mimic their mother. It is really important to continue singing and talking to your baby throughout your pregnancy and the first few years of life.
If you do not feel confident signing, join an age appropriate music class with other new mums or attend with your mother’s group, but remember your child is not a critic, they will not judge your voice, any singing is better than no singing.
Try and set a time each day and make singing part of your daily routine. There are all kinds of songs which can easily be sung as you dress/undress your child, at bath time, bedtime or when packing toys away. As your child gets older difficult tasks (such as packing toys away) can be made into a fun game through the use of song and what could be a stressful time is suddenly fun and exciting for both mum/dad/carer and toddler.
The following are just a few ideas you can introduce into your daily routine.
Tips During Pregnancy
• Talk and sing to your baby – they can hear you and will be soothed by your voice
• Read a book each night to your unborn child – if you read the same book every night you will find that it will be one of their favourites as they get older.
• Sing a lullaby to your child at any point during the day – This song will soothe your baby and send them to sleep once they are born
• Listen to a CD or music that you find soothing and relaxing. Playing this CD during the birth will give your unborn child something familiar to associate with making the experience enjoyable and less stressful.
Tips After the Birth
• Continue using all the tips listed above (Tips During Pregnancy)
• Learn a range of nursery rhymes, finger plays and knee bouncers that you can use to further develop your babies language and development.
• At least once a day enjoy “Cuddle Time” and sing your chosen lullaby. This will increase your bond and is always great for soothing an upset baby.
• Expose your child to a wide range of musical styles with different tempos, rhythms and instruments.
• Allow your child to explore and make different sounds using any household objects such as pots and pans
• Attending a babies class with your mother’s group or friends is the perfect way to maintain contact on a regular basis for the first few years of your child’s life.
**Honing, H. (2011, in press). The illiterate listener. On music cognition, musicality and methodology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.