Can music help our babies to become smarter and calmer? We asked Ms. Nicole M. Charara some questions on music for babies.
1. Is there a relationship between music and fetal development?
Many studies support the notion that music can play a role in fetal development as the fetus has the ability to hear by the second trimester of pregnancy. Some studies have also shown that babies in the womb display increased heart rate and body movements when music is played for them.
In my opinion, music can be beneficial when it is utilized as one of the components of a healthy pregnancy. Music can help strengthen a baby’s development during pregnancy along with other crucial factors, such as the mother’s stress levels and her diet.
2. Will playing music to my baby while he’s still in my womb make him smarter?
While there are conflicting views around this, it does not seem that listening to music while the baby is in the womb will harm the fetus, provided that the music is not played too loudly. Using music to create a bond and soothe the baby as well as a way to relax oneself will surely play a role in infant development. If music helps soothes and relaxes the mother, then it also provides the baby with a better environment to develop and thrive, which in turn will have an impact on the infant’s capacity for learning once he/she is out of the womb.
According to research by Spotify, classical music, which has 60-70 beats per minute, a constant melody and tone range, can calm the mind and help retain factual information. It targets the part of the brain that stimulates spatial-temporal reasoning. You may find classical music on Classify, a Spotify app, which features a huge catalogue of classical music, ranging from composers, instruments, themes and eras.
3. How should I go about playing music to my unborn baby?
There are a few things to keep in mind:
• Avoid extremely loud music as this may startle the baby
• Music should help you relax and put you in a “good” mood – playing the music for yourself, as you normally would to relax, is your best bet
• Establish a bonding ritual for you and your baby, which also enhances the baby’s development. E.g. When getting ready for nap time, play soothing music or lullabies that you plan to sing to the baby. Once he/she is born, it can also become your connecting time with baby.
• Moderation is key – it is best to avoid long music sessions, which has the possibility of over-stimulating the baby. It is important to provide you and the baby with a calming, stress-free atmosphere that allows you to form a stronger bond with your baby.
4. What sort of songs should I listen to during my pregnancy?
From the day they have been conceived, environment plays a key role in every child’s development. Studies show that a fetus can be affected by the mother’s stress levels. Therefore, listening to calming and relaxing tunes can help stabilize your stress levels, which in turn will have a positive effect on the baby. Listening to relaxing music, such as classical or jazz music, can help set the tone for a relaxation session. If you are feeling down or depressed, then playing an upbeat song that helps uplift your mood, can also be beneficial.
You may find a huge range of relaxing jazz music from Jazzify, another Spotify app. You may browse by artist, featured instrument, time period and subgenre, from acid jazz and big band to swing, depending on your mood – that is sure to relax and uplift your mood.
5. What kind of songs should I play to my newborn baby?
There is no hard and fast rule in terms of the kind of songs that you and your baby should enjoy. A good rule of thumb is to play music that you like, but also remember to take cues from your baby. Playing soft music, such as lullabies or classical songs at bedtime work best, while playing more upbeat songs for playtime can get you both in a cheerful mood.
As studies have shown that babies like songs that have a steady beat and tone, you may want to steer clear of heavy metal, rap or hard rock and stick to soothing lullabies. However, paying attention to your baby’s cues will be the best way to know whether this is the right kind of song to play for your child or not.
6. How loud is too loud for my baby’s ears?
When it comes to playing music for your baby, playing tunes at mid-range volume is best. The music can be playing in the background, with volume levels similar to what you hear in an elevator or at a store. Making sure that the music is not too loud is key, as music should help you and your baby relax.
By Ms. Nicole M. Charara
Marriage and Family Therapist in the United States and a Clinical Psychologist in Singapore
For more information on the writer, log on to www.nicolecharara.com
This research is commissioned by Spotify, digital music streaming service