Ever find yourself humming along to a rhythm and singing lyrics from a song that you have a memory or a specific interaction with? Music impacts our life in so many ways! It can affect our mood, give us energy, help us focus, and trigger memories – just to name a few.
And guess what? Music has the same effects on babies.
Early exposure to music stimulates language development!
Try playing with your baby while singing your favourite tunes – it may help:
- calm or excite baby
- teach new words/ideas
- introduce turn taking
- follow directions
- guide baby’s focus to another activity/idea
Don’t have the best singing voice? Don’t worry, baby still loves to hear your voice!
Research shows that babies who actively participate in interactive music experiences with their parents, demonstrate early communication skills like pointing to objects that are out of reach, socially waving hi/bye or smiling more often, and were easier to soothe than babies who simply just listen to music.
Tips to get baby to “actively” participate and interact during music time:
- Be face to face – physically get down or bring baby up so you are both at each other’s eye level
- Move with your baby – rhythmically dancing and moving with your baby, helps to release oxytocin (the hormone that is produced during breastfeeding).
- Add actions and props – help your baby move to the music by moving his hands, or tapping his feet to the rhythm. Add props like pictures or finger puppets, and encourage your baby to touch the props. Similarly, you can add musical instruments.
- Slow the song down, repeat, and wait – try to find a song that has repetitive actions or words, and slow down when you sing the song. This gives your baby the time to process what is happening and will make it easier for your baby to learn the words or actions that are paired with the song. When you think your baby knows the song, pause and see if he will participate by changing his facial expression, smiling, moving his body, or even making a sound.
- Have fun – pick a familiar song or make a song up. Don’t over think it, just add words, actions and dance away! These are the songs that your child will love the most as they are unique and personalized. The Hanen Centre also provides great suggestions on how to add music and songs to help your child communicate.