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The Benefits of Singing to Your Baby

Babies love to sing! When you sing to your baby you share an intimate connection that validates your relationship, strengthens emotional bonds, increases socialization, and aids in both language and pitch development.

At what age do you begin music exposure? Quite honestly, before your child is born! That’s right. What is the best music you can provide? Your voice! Simply sing a song it's as simple as that. Siri and Alexa cannot provide the emotional connection your child will feel when they hear the sound of your voice singing to them or humming a tune. Your voice resonates with their tiny soul, as it is the sound that provides comfort for so many months pre- birth. At 16 weeks of pregnancy your child is actively listening to your voice. Throughout the earliest years of your child’s development, learning is enhanced through ritual and repetition. It engenders familiarity which not only provides security, but allows them to predict language and sound. Recent research in early childhood development has revealed that the most powerful connection you have with your newborn is through your voice and purposeful touch. Add “skin to skin” contact while singing and further enhancement to the neural receptors in the brain occurs. Did you know that when you sing, oxytocin ( nicknamed the cuddle or “feel good” hormone) is released in your brain, producing a release of good feelings within the singer- well being for not only baby, but parent as well!?

Why is the parent/ caregiver voice preferred over recorded music? It is responsive to baby’s cues — recorded music is a constant stimulus that is not responsive to a baby’s cues. While a parent is singing, they have the ability to respond to their infants cues notably through smiles and eye contact, but through providing a purposeful touch ( massage or rhythmic pats). You can promote a powerful exchange and validate your infant’s voice by echoing the sounds they make. Think of it as a ping-pong match baby serves up a sound and caregiver echoes it back. This can also be done as demonstrated in the video, providing the sound and allowing baby to echo. Watch this as a 4month old duplicates pitch.

Vowel sounds, coos, b and d sounds sung also help to reinforce the power of using the voice, which will promote language development as well as pitch. Language is closely linked to music and it is no surprise that our earliest learning and memorization comes through song learning- i.e. Our ABCs or Twinkle Little Star (sung to the same melody). A group of Dartmouth researchers has discovered that the brain’s auditory cortex, the part that handles information through hearing, holds onto musical memories. Music has been shown to be a powerful retention tool, and integrates both right and left brain hemispheres. Our earliest memories are formed with musical connections and can span a lifetime. Alzheimer's patients have no problem remembering their favorite songs, which can be due to the strong emotional and behavioral connection they have to these memories. Research has revealed that musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the the disease.

The next time you sing a lullaby to your baby, think about the profound life giving gift you are giving them- a musical memory, a connection so deep that will span a lifetime.

Singer, Songwriter, Author and Center Director Allison Wilkins, known by her students as "Ms. Alli" has been performing and singing with children since her childhood. Allison adheres to the Music Together philosophy that children are naturally "musical" from birth and recalls her fondest childhood memories were centered around "music making". She studied drama and voice at the Pittsburgh Playhouse for the performing arts. She holds a degree in psychology with an emphasis in special education from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Allison completed the Music Together training program, developed by the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, New Jersey in 2001 and is a Certification Level I teacher of the Music Together program.


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