Hush Little Baby: Music Magic

by | Apr 16, 2024

“Thula thul, thula baba thula sana; thul’ u bab’uzo fika eku seni.” Sound familiar? How about “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…” Lullabies have been a staple in nurseries for centuries, passed down through generations. But the power of music for babies goes far beyond calming a fussy baby. Research suggests that music significantly affects a baby’s emotional well-being, cognitive development, and even language skills.

A Soothing Symphony: Music and Emotional Regulation

We live in an information overload era and know precisely how overwhelming that can be. Being born into this dynamic, loud world can be an overwhelming place for newborns. Music is a means of building powerful connections, and it provides a sense of comfort and security. Did you know that studies have proved that music lowers stress hormones in babies, promoting relaxation and reducing crying? The familiar melody of a lullaby can trigger the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” fostering a sense of calm and connection between parent and child.

From an emotional aspect, music can also be a powerful tool for managing pain. Are you the mom or a preemie? Well, listen up. A study published in the journal Acta Paediatrica found that music therapy reduced pain and improved recovery time in preterm infants undergoing procedures.

Music Makes the Brain Grow: Boosting Cognitive Development

By now, you will have heard that the first few years of life are a critical window for brain development. Yes, you guessed it; music plays a pivotal role in our neural pathways. Music provides a rich sensory experience that stimulates various neural pathways. Research suggests that exposure to music can enhance a baby’s cognitive skills, including memory, attention, and spatial reasoning. 

According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, listening to music can improve a baby’s ability to process auditory information. This enhanced auditory processing can have a positive impact on future language development.

The Rhythm of Language: Music as a Stepping Stone to Speech

The link between music and language skills is particularly intriguing. Music shares some core elements with language, such as rhythm, pitch, and structure. In fact, music is in itself a language. Exposure to music can help babies become attuned to these elements, making it easier for them to learn and understand spoken language later on. This is why even tiny tots can sense when you’re upset or happy, and they will respond accordingly. 

Singing to your baby creates a special bond and provides a foundation for language development. Songs with repetitive phrases and simple vocabulary introduce babies to the sounds and patterns of language in a fun and engaging way.

Creating a Musical Journey for Your Baby

Here are some ways to incorporate music into your baby’s life:

  • Sing to your baby:  That’s it, tap into that inner Mariah Carey. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a professional singer. The sound of your voice is calming and familiar to your baby.
  • Play a variety of music genres: Expose your baby to different styles of music, from classical to lullabies to cultural music. Yes, you can play your music from twenty years ago, and they will love it. 
  • Move and groove together: Dance and sway with your baby while listening to music. This helps with motor skill development and creates a joyful bonding experience.
  • Invest in musical toys: Rattles, shakers, and toy pianos can encourage your baby to explore sound and develop their musicality. It’s excellent for auditory development.

Music is a universal language, and it offers many benefits for babies. From soothing their emotions to boosting their cognitive development and language skills, incorporating music into your baby’s life is a simple yet powerful way to nurture their growth.

So, “let the music play on.” 

 

References:

  • Fachner, L. M., de Kort, S. L., & Darges, W. (2013). How does music influence stress in neonates?
    Acta Paediatrica, 102(8), 744-749. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yii2hfM3i54
  • Strathearn, L., Goldsmith, H., & Cassidy, J. (2009). The role of music in parent-infant bonding.
    British Journal of Music Therapy, 23(2), 99-118. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10220519/
  • Hunker, B., Goncü, R., & Duman, T. (2014). The effect of music therapy on pain in preterm infants undergoing painful
    procedures
    . Acta Paediatrica, 103(1), 74-78. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27820525/
  • Anvari, M., Trainor, L. J., & Bhattacharya, J. (2009). The benefits of musical activities for cognitive development in
    early childhood
    . Developmental Review