Friday, March 1, 2013

Why Music Rocks for Babies

Music soothes the soul.

Did you know that from 20 weeks on a fetus in the womb can hear music?

Its true, if you turn up the volume a bit on your radio while pregnant your baby can hear and and most likely respond to the sound. Perhaps it will soothe them to sleep, or they will start kicking to the beat. That's pretty awesome!

What is even crazier, a new study showed that babies can remember tunes that were played in the womb for as much as a year after birth.
The study can be read here:

After your baby is born:
  • Music may even help strengthen premature babies. Researchers from Brigham Young University studied the effects of music on 33 premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. Cassette players piped voices of men and women singing lullabies into each baby's isolette for 40 minutes a day for four days. When doctors examined the babies on the fourth day, they found that babies who were exposed to music gained more weight, and had lower blood pressure and a stronger heartbeat.

Can music make babies smarter?

  • Some parents & experts believe listening to certain types of music at any age, stimulates the brain in a way that helps educational and emotional development. One example of this is known as the Mozart Effect, that stemed from rumors that Albert Einstein listened to Mozart as a child which lead him to become a genius.
The Mozart Effect
  • Named after a 1993 experiment by Professor Frances Rauscher and Dr. Gordon Shaw, the Mozart Effect said that listening to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart can induce relaxation and improve memory.
The studies are all inconclusive on whether or not listening to classical music actually does improve educational development, even still there is no harm in exposing your baby to different types of music throughout childhood.  The studies do all hint* that introducing playing music at an early age can be influencial for the development of the child.

So how do different types of music effect us?

  • Carol Krumhansl of Cornell University found that different types of music directly trigger different emotions. While happiness causes you to breathe faster, sadness causes a rise in blood pressure and temperature and a slower pulse. Faster music played in a major key caused the same physical reactions associated with happiness, and slower music played in a minor key resulted in those associated with sadness. (Leutwyler) This also evokes the question of whether or not minor keys naturally sound “bad” or undesirable to everyone, or if it’s simply what we’ve been socialized to think through the music we’re used to in our particular cultures.

How music can help your babies mood?

  • Music can help set the mood for your baby. Because he/she is drawn to rhythm and repetition, simple lullabies calm her and encourage sleep. Fast-paced, excited music can encourage alertness and play. Remember that just as your musical preferences are different from even your best friend's, your baby may have a different idea of what is "calming" or "exciting" than you do. The best way to find out what they like is to try an new song or genre until you find one they prefer.

Play music at bedtime.

  • Because music effects mood so greatly in infants Jodi Mindell, a Philadelphia pediatric sleep expert and author of (Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep.) says to try and associate specific songs with the end of the day to train your child to sleep. Keep the sound and tempo slow, and the room darkened. But avoid putting on a go-to-sleep tape and leaving the room so your baby can fall asleep to it, Instead, play a few songs for your child then turn the tape or CD player off before he falls asleep.
In summary: Babies love rhythm, and repetition, after they are born it reminds them of being inside the womb and that soothes them. Babies are effected by the tempo of sound, high tempo exciting and playful, low tempo soothing and meloncholy. Babies can have their own preference to music so playing different genres is good.  Whether you play music for them inside or outside the womb it cant hurt and it might just help them learn quicker or have an easier time falling asleep.