Using Music to Stimulate Your Baby’s Development

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Babies love music. Perhaps you’ve experienced it too: your baby is tired or stressed and crying hard, so you put on a soothing song and suddenly, all crying stops! The previous screaming and squirming become almost impossible to imagine.


Yet, music is more than a charm that can soothe your baby or get them off to sleep quickly. Music has powerful effects that you can harness to stimulate your baby’s development.


How Music Benefits Your Child


Neuroscientists have found that music can have a big effect on a baby’s brain. One study found that babies who listened to music had different looking auditory and prefrontal cortexes (the areas of the brain in charge of music and speech processing). Other benefits were in improved personality traits, like being more cooperative. It is not necessarily accurate to suggest that music can make babies more clever, but clearly there are great benefits even when it just involves listening. But there is an aspect to music that can be much more transformative for babies…


The Magic of Music Making


Making music is far more powerful in stimulating the brain of a baby. Making music requires fine motor skills (using multiple muscles at once to create certain movements) such as gripping and striking, as well as linguistic and mathematical precision. Creativity is also necessary. As all these skills are required at once, many different areas of the brain have to work together, and this means that new connections are being formed, with huge benefits in terms of mental development.


How You Can Harness the Power of Music


Many parents stress about what kind of music they should play to their baby, perhaps thinking that listening to wall-to-wall Mozart will turn their baby into the next child prodigy. There’s not a great amount of evidence that shows one kind of music is more beneficial than another (although we certainly wouldn’t recommend exposing your child to ear-melting heavy metal!). It’s important to share with your child music that you too enjoy. You may have already noticed, but your baby is a bit like a mirror of your own emotions: when you are happy, they are happy. So choose the music that you enjoy and share the joy of it together.


As mentioned earlier, music can be very soothing, so if you use music to help your baby sleep, you may have to use trial and error to discover what your baby finds relaxing. But as mentioned above, use music not just for passive listening, but also to stimulate movement. It’s time to get up and dance! Over time, your baby will start swaying and dancing in their own way, just like you do. That can really help with balance and stability. Singing along to tunes (especially more accessible kinds of music for babies, like lullabies) has also been shown to improve a baby’s linguistic ability. Singing is a great motivation for linguistic expression.


There’s also a whole host of little musical instruments designed for babies. We personally love colourful xylophones, not only do they look great, but babies master the hitting movement quite quickly. Colourful xylophones are great for cognitive development as well, you may not realise it, but your baby is simultaneously learning about different motions, sound, power, colour, texture and so much more. A xylophone is just one option that your baby will enjoy. We’re always recommending handmade things on Etsy, but there really is an amazing range of ingenious music making objects to choose from, just make sure it’s age appropriate and won’t have any choking hazards.


 A Small Warning


Please remember that babies are extremely sensitive to sound. As adults living in the 21st century, our ears are battle hardened, we’ve been exposed to headphones and pop concerts. Your baby has smaller ear canals, and their hearing will be a little bit more fragile. As a rule, if you can’t talk over the music, it’s probably too loud for your baby. Hearing loss is real, and it’s generally irreversible. That doesn’t need to scare you from playing music though, you just have to keep an eye (or ear) on the volume.


Final Notes


Your baby will benefit hugely from listening to all kinds of music. Music stimulates their brain, and enhances their creativity, especially if they are participating in it. No matter what music you choose, or how you add it to your baby’s life, you won’t regret making music the soundtrack of your child’s early years.