Music is one of the few truly universal experiences we, as humans, share–that uplifting, enlightening cacophony of sound, melody and harmony that lifts us up or calms us down. That you should introduce your baby to music is beyond doubt. How and when you should introduce them, however, is less set in stone. To explore this topic, we asked five parents to explain how they incorporated music into their baby’s early years.
1. Music Helps Soothes the Senses
Opinions vary on at which age you should introduce your baby to music. But a significant number of moms and dads believe it’s never too soon…
“We played music to our son before he was even born,” says Nicky H., mom of Lucas. “I heard there’s all sorts of science behind exposing your baby to music in the womb but for us it was never as complicated as that. Music helps adults relax, period. And if you, as the mom, are feeling relaxed and de-stressed, I firmly believe your baby can only benefit. We all have our go-to album or playlist that helps us unwind. Put it on, get comfortable and take it easy together!”
2. Music Allows Your Baby to Make Some Noise
When your baby grows old enough to hold objects–around from 12 months on–they might want to form their own rock band.
“I’d read that playing music was beneficial to a baby’s development… ” says Sarah B., mom of twins Louis and Jim. “So we bought them both a small wooden drum, just to see if they liked it. I mean, what young kid wouldn’t love banging a stick on a drum? I’m not sure you’d call it music as such, but they loved just sitting there making a noise. Soon we introduced pots and pans to the set-up and took things to the next level. Did it help them develop as a result? I’ve no idea. Did they love banging pots and pans and making music? That much was beyond doubt.”
3. Music Can Help Babies Define Sounds
Music and language are similar in a way that they have strong rhythmic patterns. Music can help babies make connections between sounds and language.
“When our first child went to school, they placed a lot of importance on playing music to the children,” says Melissa B., mom of Ruby and Harry. “They believed it helped them define sounds and develop speech. I guess there’s no way of knowing if it did, but we made sure we built music into Ruby’s play routine at home. She had nursery rhyme playlists, and we’d routinely sing to her and dance around. Watching her grow and learn to sing the words back was just an amazing experience–and she loved it as much as we did.”
4. Music Can Help Ease Your Baby To Sleep
One school of thought believes that listening to classical music can boost a baby’s brainpower in later years–what they term the “Mozart Effect’.”Whether that’s true or not, classical music may be beneficial on a baby’s brain but also there’s another effect, the sleep effect.
“We have friends with older children who swore classical music could help a baby drift off to sleep,” says Paul M., dad of Jacob and Molly. “We thought it was worth a go, so any time Jacob or Molly seemed to be struggling, we’d just put Moonlight Sonata on low in the background, on a loop. It became a kind of comfort blanket that helped them drift off. I don’t know if they’ll become super brainy as a result, or if Beethoven works as well as Mozart for that matter, but it definitely served its purpose.”
5. Music Helps with Establishing Patterns
Routines can be beneficial to both parents and young babies, helping bring a semblance of order to each day. Music can play a surprising role in establishing such routines.
“When Oli was in the toddler phase,” says Craig G., dad of Oliver and Jasmine, “he would only eat dinner once I’d played We Will Rock You by Queen! At first it became a stand-off, with me pleading with him to eat. As soon as I realized a quick blast of Queen was all it took, we never looked back. Oli’s not a fussy eater in the slightest–I think we have Freddie Mercury to thank for that!”
6. Music Can Help Develop Language Skills
Using music as a tool to learn language doesn’t have to be something that you take too seriously- parents can join in on the fun too!
“I’ve always been a strong believer in the theory that talking to your baby helps them to develop their first words and build language,” says Karen T., mom to Eva and Issy. “Plus, I really love dancing around the kitchen singing at the top of my voice! So when Eva came along, and later Issy, I combined those two things by playing albums I knew all the words to–usually Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi. I got to indulge in kitchen karaoke and the girls learned to speak. At least, that’s what I tell myself!”
So, the question really isn't should music be a part of your baby's life –it’s more how can you can make it a part of daily life. Happy listening with your little one!