Like reading to your child, exposing your baby to music can have immediate and long-term benefits.
You’ve probably heard at some point that playing Mozart loudly during your pregnancy will make your baby more intelligent or perhaps have more refined taste when she is older. While there is not a lot of research to support this, it is true that infants are drawn to music and can benefit from exposure to music. Hearing is one of the first senses to develop during gestation, and newborns prefer their mother’s voice just after birth.
Like reading to your child, exposing your baby to music can have immediate and long-term benefits. Music offers a variety of organized sounds and lyrics that stimulate a developing brain. Studies have shown that exposing music to little ones can promote:
- Learning – Babies pick up on the patterns, sequences and rhythms of music, which helps develop cognitive skills.
- Memory – One study found that babies could remember short sequences of songs before their first birthday.
- Language development – Listening to music with lyrics can help a child develop language skills, but so can talking or singing to them. The more a child is spoken or sung to, the quicker he or she will begin to mimic and respond to what he or she is hearing.
- Preemie development – Premature infants who are exposed to music therapy have shorter hospital stays, increased daily weight gain among other incredible benefits.
- Creativity – Music has been shown to expand children’s imagination, energy and mood, which often turns into the perfect space for creativity.
Does type of music matter? For infants, live music is best — babies particularly prefer their mother’s singing voice because of the familiarity from inside the womb and the higher pitch, which they hear best. The benefits of music, however, are not just limited to babies! Parents who sing lullabies to their infants can improve the bond between the two and experience improved stress relief.
As your child grows up, continue to play music — the developmental benefits grow as the child does. Playing an instrument, dancing or just listening to music can promote confidence, happiness and increased brain development in children.
Norton Children’s Hospital offers music therapy in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and as part of the expressive therapies program. To learn more about these programs or to learn about ways to give, visit NortonChildrensHospital.com/ExpressiveTherapies.