Many pregnant and new mums have heard the theory that playing music to our unborn babies will stimulate brain development. Or perhaps make our baby smarter, more creative or more sociable.
As adults, most of us have experienced the positive effects of music to soothe, relax and promote a feeling of well being. We can often relate a moment or period of time in our lives to the music we were listening to, or the songs that were meaningful.
Exposing babies to music is known to stimulate brain development by promoting the development of neural synapses (brain cell connections). The more developed the neural synapses; the better developed the brain on both the intelligence and physical levels. There will be a quicker grasp of language, improved motor movements and better spatial understanding.
Listening to music can also stimulate the production of endorphins, which not only have a feel-good effect on your baby, they also have infection-fighting and pain-relieving properties. Many new parents experience difficulties in establishing a healthy breastfeeding and sleeping routine during the first few weeks and sometimes months. Playing soothing music can help to relax your baby (as well as overtired mums and dads!), and create a calm and comfortable atmosphere. Look for music with a flowing, lyrical melody, simple harmony and easy paced rhythm
Just like adults, developing babies have preferences for different musical styles. Play and listen to a variety of music with your child, and together discover music that they love. Watch your baby bounce, clap and respond positively to the music they enjoy.
Playing music has an even greater effect on neural development than just listening. Use age-appropriate musical instruments, and encourage your child to play along with music they hear. Sing songs together, and even make up new songs about their activities and experiences. By bringing music creativity into their daily life, you will enhance their quality of life, encourage creative and emotional expression.
Engaging in a specially designed pre-school music program with qualified music educators can be of great benefit. A good quality program should include and engage both parent and child, so you are sharing the enjoyment of music together. Also, expect to be provided with information and resources to extend and support music learning at home.
Babies and children of all ages can benefit from listening to and playing music. By encouraging these activities and exposing our children to a variety of music, I believe we are supporting their physical and emotional development, and establishing a lifetime love of music. Not to mention having FUN!