Fostering you child’s development and focusing on growing your baby’s brain can be a bit overwhelming for new parents! Before you read on, rest assured that when we speak about “growing baby’s brain” we are simply identifying providing the opportunity for what maturation naturally provides, given the optimal environment. Studies show that singing to a baby (even out of key, pitchy, made-up-words songs) can make babies calmer and happier. Imagine that! You can grow your baby’s brain while singing your favourite song. Win-win! Here are a few of our favourite ways that your baby’s brain may grow by using music:
While expressive speech may be a few months off, learning how to understand the rules of language is occurring from day dot. Turn-taking is an important element of communication and by using music, you can offer your baby the chance to begin to develop this skill. Sing songs that require copying or call and response to give your little one the idea that when you finish, he or she starts. Side note: Mastering the pause that is usually required to elicit a response can feel unnatural for an adult. Once you have sung your part, look at your baby expectantly and count to ten slowly in your head before you are tempted to fill in the silence for them. The idea is to let them know it is their turn without them wondering why you have finished the song and moved on!
Sensitivity to pitch structure in music
Studies show that when babies are given the opportunity to experiment with music making (not just passive listening) they will show a preference to in-key pieces of music earlier than babies who have not. In addition to this, babies who have had this experience also show larger and earlier brain responses to musical tones.
Understanding their world
One of the many, many things that a baby’s developing brain is organising is understanding how their world is structured. Their little brains are hardwired to sort sounds into categories. Was that someone speaking or just footsteps? Was that the neighbour’s dog or a washing machine? All these noises and sounds allow them to create a memory bank of their knowledge about the world. Being exposed to music exercises this ability to sort sound and provide another opportunity for pleasure.
Listening, making and enjoying music together doesn’t have to be just another task on your to-do list. It can be a wonderful way to bond with your baby and spend some quality time in each other’s company. When your day is filled with feeding, washing, cooking, settling, why not take some time out to enjoy the simple pleasure of music together?
Song suggestions for the first 6 months
- Round and Round the Garden using your fingertip on baby’s palm
- Rock-a-bye-baby as you rock baby gently in your arms
- Hush Little Baby. The repetition in this one is great for bedtime. It’s also perfect for tired mums and dads as if you forget the words, just sub in anything that rhymes!
- 1-2-3-4-5 Once I Caught A Fish Alive is wonderful for when your baby is learning to track with their eyes. As you count off your fingers, watch your little one be captivated by your movements.
Once you get started, you’ll discover opportunities for music everywhere. There are songs about just about anything and everything and if there is not, then just make one up to suit your purposes! There was one a little baby, who had to fall asleep. Close those little eyes, and don’t make a peep…