Did your parents sing to you at bedtime when you were little? Or perhaps, you usually sing a lullaby to your little one? You may not know this but listening to music before bedtime is good for babies. According to science, from the time they are still in the womb, sound waves reach the brain, helping in learning, relaxation, and memory. In particular, classical music.
Music has a very special power when your baby goes to sleep because it connects with their unconsciousness, the imaginary, which in return, helps them to quickly fall asleep. They improve quality of life, well-being, and the relationship with the family.
You can play songs on your phone, radio, or CD player if you still have one 🙂 Or, you can sing to them, and the best part is, you don’t need to know how to sing very well, what makes your child feel comfortable is the familiar voice.
I always recommend my families to play classical music when babies are irritated, or at the end of the day, before dinner time, or witching hour, where children are often more tired and irritated. Listening to classical music soothes not only children but everyone in the environment.
Understand the importance of sleep for babies
Many families have difficulties getting their little ones to sleep well, even with music or without. The reality is, we can’t *make* them sleep, but we can help them learn how to do it on their own. And that is why I urge parents to implement a sleep routine as early as possible and be consistent with it. It is essential for little ones since it is precise during sleep that growth hormones are working and all the learnings in the brain are consolidated. These are imperative functions that determine your child’s development!
Depriving a baby of sleep does pose harm and puts their development at risk. Have you noticed how your little one looks when they are deprived of sleep? Even yourself as an adult, on top of having a hard time focusing and concentrating, tend to get irritable, impatient, and experience that “brain fog.” I simply say we function on zombie mode.
During the first months of life, it may be a little more challenging to create a sleep routine, as they are still in the process of adapting to this world outside the womb, but it is doable. And as time goes by you will feel more confident and your child gets used to the new routine, and it will all be worth it.
Music tips for babies
Choose songs according to your baby’s activity or behavior. The music to play, as soon as they wake up, will have different rhythms than the one you will play for winding down at the end of the day, or before sleep time. There will be songs that will make your baby calmer and others that will make them more excited and agitated. A good way to help them to have a peaceful sleep is not to change the style of the music you play before nap or bedtime too much – remember, when it comes to a sleep routine, consistency is key! If possible, play the same songs or the same playlist, so that your little ones start to associate it as a cue for sleep, and it is then part of the routine. You can experiment with different musical styles during the day during playtime.
How does music help child development?
The sooner your baby comes into contact with music, the better. We know that they may have already had this contact during pregnancy, but their perception of the world changes completely after birth as they are introduced to this whole new world. Incorporating music into your daily life has shown to increase vocabulary, and it becomes easier to memorize them because it already comes with rhythm and context. It also helps to obtain a more fluid and cohesive speech in both children and adults.
Parents don’t have to just play children’s songs for the baby. Remember, you are responsible to introduce them to this whole world, so feel free to add “regular” music to the selection for them to listen to while they play, take a bath, or during feeds. It’s a way for them to get used to it and find out which songs they enjoy most. I usually play children’s songs in different languages, because even though I may not know the language, I trust their vocabulary is “appropriate.” However, the main reason why I choose to play those is to preserve the knowledge that babies have at birth, to recognize all the phonemes of every language, regardless of whether spoken by their parents or not. As the months go by, babies will lose this ability, and will only stay with the phonemes that are part of their day-to-day lives. I talk in-depth about this subject in my Promoting Multi-language Exposure class.
Listening to music helps in the development of the little ones not only because of calming them down and facilitating their sleep, but also because it stimulates their hearing and improves their language, their intellectual, sensory, and motor development. Music has other benefits such as:
- Help with pronunciation, when speaking words correctly;
- Easier learning of the alphabet and syllables;
- Helps in learning numbers and other languages;
- Helps in building relationships and motor coordination.