Music & Babies

I cried the first time I brought my first born to mommy and me class. No, not sad tears; rather, those obnoxious emotional tears-of-joy. My heart overflowed watching my babyreact to music, a parachute, bubbles, and instruments. His eyes lit up and my heart melted. His curious, wondrous spirit made me overwhelmingly happy.

I started my son in Kindermusik around 6 months old. We gave it a try on a whim and instantly fell in love with Miss Brenlie, the beautiful, bubbly, and passionate instructor. She radiated energy, and I was blown away when I discovered she had two grown kids and had been teaching mommy and me classes for nearly 20 years.

At home, I always have music on. I feel it improves the overall mood of our house. Plus, my kids love to clap, dance, and jam.

It's amazing how savvy little baby brains are. Studies show that babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better, are easier to soothe, and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.

Here are four benefits of music for babies, according to Miss Brenlie.

1. Music supports the early stages of language development.

When we hear babies exploring the wide-range of noises possible with the human voice, mouth, and tongue, they are actually engaging in play—specifically, vocal play. Cooing, babbling, blowing raspberries and screeching like a pterodactyl are all part of it. (My sons think they're dinosaurs.)

Vocal play is one of the early stages of language development and parents play a pivotal role. A baby and caregiver engage in vocal play by touching, gazing, observing, listening, and imitating. All of this vocal play supports a child’s vocal development by encouraging breath control, use of vocal cords, and the coordination of the small muscles in the face and mouth. Plus, the pausing and waiting during vocal play teaches a baby conversational turn-taking.

2. Music helps babies experience patterns.

During the first several months of life, babies follow a predictable pattern. Eat. Sleep. Diaper change. Eat. Sleep. Diaper change. Patterns help babies connect to and learn about the world. Recognizing facial and vocal patterns actually help them sleep longerat night. (YES!)

Babies and young children who learn to identify patterns strengthen their sense of safety and feel happier because they can better predict what happens next. Plus, a solid understanding of patterns eventually leads to success in school; especially in math, science, and reading. In mommy and me, babies experience patterns through rhythm and meter, tempo contrasts, dances, language and vocal play and the routine of the lesson flow.

3. Music and movement provide opportunities for fine- and gross-motor skills development.

Babies grow by leaps and bounds their first year—or more accurately by grasps and scoots. One minute you hold a newborn who reflexively grasps your finger; the next minute, your little baby intentionally reaches up to touch your nose. Whether reaching for a nose, lifting a head during tummy time, clapping, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, or walking, a baby exerts tireless hours to learning how to intentionally move.In class, we provide many opportunities for a baby to engage in fun, musical activities that support and strengthen each stage of a child’s movement development. This includes tummy time, playing with baby-safe instruments, and gently bouncing baby in a caregiver’s lap. (These are all things you can easily do at home!)

4. Music helps babies gain active listening skills.

Do you ever just stop and really listen to your surroundings? It’s kind of noisy. You might hear the sounds of music, television commercials, the humming of the refrigerator or air conditioner, birds singing, cars driving by, wind blowing, phones buzzing, etc. Thankfully, as an adult, you know how to tune in to the sounds that matter most. But babies do not. In fact, young babies hear most of it—including over 300 different phonemes, tones, and clicks used to express every single language in the world! Listening is learned and practiced skill.

I wanted to share Miss Brenlie's insight with you because I sincerely believe in the importance of instilling music in children. At the end of every class, Miss Brenlie says the same thing: always keep a song in your heart. I pray my sons always have a heart full of happy tunes.

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