You might be surprised to know that there are benefits to sharing music with your baby from the moment they are born. In fact, your baby can hear and recognise sounds in utero and so their musical education could start before they even enter the world!
Making music together is a lovely way to bond and breaks up those long early days when you’re not quite sure what you can do with your baby yet, beyond cuddles and feeds. Here are my top 5 tips for making music with your newborn.
According to researchers at University of Cambridge, eye contact syncs your brainwaves with your baby and helps in developing learning and communication skills. Looking into the eyes releases oxytocin, which strengthens the bond between you and your little one, and also makes your baby feel more secure.
During your baby's first month, she can focus only about 20cm to 30cm away. That's just far enough to clearly make out the face of the person holding her. If you hold her close, she will find your face and expressions fascinating. So smile, pull faces and begin communicating through your expressions whilst you sing. Don’t be shy - the bigger the better!
Sotto Voce means to sing in a soft voice. There are a number of reasons why this particular method is very effective for young babies:
The soothing nature of the volume will relax babies and make them feel at ease. This combined with the familiar tones of your voice that accompanied them for 9 months in your womb, will reassure and settle your baby.
To sing sotto voce is much easier and less physically demanding than other methods of vocal projection. This is important during the first few months after your baby is born when you are likely to feel exhausted and drained.
Simple repetitive melodies
During pregnancy the rapid rise of progesterone and estrogen levels affects the woman’s entire body, including the vocal cords. This alteration in hormones causes the vocal cords to swell and vocal folds become heavy. Fragility of the vocal cord can also lead to the cord being more prone to tear and rupture, so it is important to sing songs that do not require too much effort and strain. This isn’t the time to be belting out Adele-style!
The Kodaly method of musical learning begins with simplicity and builds systematically upon prior learning and understanding. Using songs that have a limited tone set (range of notes) will not only support the impaired nature of your vocal cords but will also help with the brain fog all us mothers have in the first few months. Click the below to sign up to recieve a short instructional video for these songs.
Motherese and Vocalisations
These are the babbling and nonsense words that we, as mothers, instinctively do when talking to our newborn. There is a lot of research to support the benefits of infant-directed speech, namely that infants actually prefer this and are more likely to pay attention and engage. At approximately 2 months your baby will try and join in with your vocalising by cooing and gurgling. Follow their lead and copy them to reinforce communication and understanding.
Hold them close and move
Rocking your baby is an instinctive sensory action that has been passed down from generations. As parents we often default to this while holding our baby in an effort to settle them and lull them to sleep. This familiar movement reminds your baby of the safety and comfort of the womb, helping them to feel secure and protected. It allows them to become aware of the sensation of their own body and the body of the parent holding them. Bedtime is a fantastic opportunity to connect with your baby in this way; rock them gently and sing a familiar song.
There is no such thing as starting too early when it comes to introducing your baby to music, and you will be amazed at the positive impact it can have laying the foundations for future music appreciation and education.