- Babies gaze at people singing. Notice where they look when you sing.
- Doesn’t really matter what you sing, or how tone deaf your tune, even the shopping list sounds great to babies ears!
Music is an emotional experience which involves the activation of 3 biological systems: The endocrine system, the immune system and the nervous system. Musical development begins pre birth in utero. The voice and the emotional state of the mother while singing or speaking are encoded and perceived by the foetus.
Dr. Graham F. Welch, 2011 Institute of Education, London
Why sing to babies?
- Singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.
- The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure.
- Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness
- The benefits of singing regularly seem to be cumulative. In one study, singers were found to have lower levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.
- Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is "an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing", argues Sally Goddard Blythe in her book, The Genius of Natural Childhood. "Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the 'signature' melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child's ear, voice and brain for language." -
How do babies learn when we sing?
- Bonding – When you sing to your baby, they bond with you and your voice.
- Language – Language is in itself musical, and when you sing and speak, your baby learns about words, language, and communication. Through your singing, baby’s language comprehension begins.
- Singing names – A baby can learn his name by hearing it in songs. Try substituting your baby’s name for other words in songs so he hears his name sung over and over again.
- Love – All of the above boils down to using your singing voice as a way to express love. Babies don't care if you are a great singer. They only care that you are singing to them! In their eyes (and their ears), you'll be a star!
Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer,
10 Ways Babies Learn When We Sing To Them
How do I begin?
- Sing with them facing you.
- Singing slowly - helps your baby hear the words and see the actions.
- Enjoy and smile.
- Keep it simple. Keep the number of words to a minimum.
- Babies love repetition and learn from it. Repeat key lyrics and actions.
- Different songs have an effect on emotions: they can be upbeat and energising or soothing and calming.