Every parent finds themselves singing to their baby at some point. You might sing to them while playing or simply out of love. If your baby is colicky, hungry, or sleepy, you might find yourself singing them a lullaby. However, what many parents might not realize is that their singing has the power to achieve more than just calming or entertaining their infant.
Singing can also:
- Improve your child’s cognitive development
- Prevent excessive crying
- Reduce postpartum depression for the mother herself
Don’t worry—you don’t need to be a talented musician for your singing to do the trick. In fact, your child would much rather hear your voice instead of recorded music because they have already formed a bond with you. Keep in mind that as a parent, your voice is the first and most important one in your child’s life.
So let’s discuss some benefits of singing to your child.
Early Brain Stimulation and Linguistic Growth
Neuroscientists say that crucial brain development occurs between the ages of zero and six. During these years, children have the opportunity to build connections in their brain that will help them throughout their life. It’s important that parents take advantage of these years and think of activities that can stimulate their child’s brain. The Nuryl curriculum is a great way of getting your child introduced to music at an early age while helping build their neural connections.
Singing is a powerful tool because it contributes to language development by introducing new vocabulary, sounds, inflections, and meanings. As your child grows, he or she will eventually begin forming words. Nursery rhymes are known to be significantly beneficial because they teach young children to pronounce words through the use of repetition. These songs also tell stories, aiding in the development of listening skills.
Improve your Child’s Mood
Research shows that babies who listened to their mother’s singing before and after birth cried less than those born to mothers who did not sing to them. In a study conducted by the University of Milan, 170 women who were 24 weeks pregnant were split into two groups: the first group was asked to sing to their babies for the continuation of their pregnancy and for the following three months after birth, while the second group was asked not to sing. Experts discovered that babies in the first group cried 18.5% of the time, whereas the babies in the second group cried 28.2% of the time. The babies who were sung to also showed fewer colic symptoms in their first few months (Persico et al., 2017).
Welcoming a baby is a life-changing event that triggers a range of emotions. Parents are overwhelmed with joy as they get to know their little one and begin bonding with them. However, some mothers might experience postpartum depression after childbirth, which can interfere with their ability to care for the baby and complete other daily tasks.
Mother-infant bonding can reduce symptoms of postpartum depression by enhancing the child-parent bond. A longitudinal study discovered that mothers who sang to their babies in the following three months after birth had lower stress levels and a stronger mother-infant bond than those who did not. Women who sang to their babies daily were twice as likely to report higher perceived bonding with their child (Fancourt & Perkins, 2018).
Parents should take turns singing to their child so that he or she grows accustomed to both the mother and the father’s voice. During pregnancy, fathers or other close family members should choose a few special songs to sing regularly to the unborn baby and then continue singing them after birth. The baby will begin associating those songs and voices with important people in their life.
- Start out by singing songs with short, simple vocabulary. Make sure to sing slowly and clearly to avoid confusion.
- Make eye contact so your child can watch your face and movements. Use actions or gestures that go along with the lyrics, as this can encourage them to imitate and later make a connection to the specific word(s).
- Incorporate singing into daily routines. Hearing the same words frequently will eventually allow your child to understand daily activities such as playing, bathing, eating, or going on a walk.
- Think of ways your child can participate. If they can vocalize and are already familiar with the song, you can pause and wait for them to try filling in the blank.
- If your child can already recognize their own name, try including it in the song. Other words such as “mama,” “papa,” or “nana” can also help identify important people.
Singing is a powerful parenthood tool that can help both you and your child in the long run. Keep in mind that the sooner you begin singing to your child, the sooner they can acquire new skills!
Fancourt, D., & Perkins, R. (2018). The effects of mother–infant singing on emotional closeness, affect, anxiety, and stress hormones. Music & Science, 1, 205920431774574. https://doi.org/10.1177/2059204317745746
Persico, G., Antolini, L., Vergani, P., Costantini, W., Nardi, M. T., & Bellotti, L. (2017). Maternal singing of lullabies during pregnancy and after birth: Effects on mother–infant bonding and on newborns’ behaviour. Concurrent Cohort Study. Women and Birth, 30(4), e214–e220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2017.01.007