The Surprising Benefit to Singing to Your Baby

Christie Haskell

mom singing to baby

Parents spend a lot of time and effort trying to encourage development in their babies -- especially first-time parents. Despite claims that reading programs help advance your child in the early formative years, Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, says that too much emphasis is put on those things ... and not enough on singing.

That's right, singing.

In fact, she goes as far as to claim that singing to pre-verbal infants can actually help prevent language issues later in life.

Apparently a lot of children enter school without adequate language and communication skills, and the blame is put on parents for not focusing on basic communication. I share the belief that infancy and toddlerhood should be about learning how the world works, not textbook information, so I love a lot of quotes from Blythe in an article where she discusses her book, 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. ... Neuro-imaging has shown that music involves more than just centralised hotspots in the brain, occupying large swathes on both sides.

I guess I really need to stop worrying so much that my singing voice isn't fantastic and just start singing away, huh? My daughter loves music already way more than my son did, and her language skills are also significantly more advanced. I wonder if that's related?

Blythe's research notes that a baby's brain responds differently to recorded singing versus live singing ... the same way popping in a book on tape doesn't compare to actually sitting down and reading to your child. So you can't pop in a lullaby CD and call it good ... you actually have to croon along. No matter how out of tune you may be, baby will still love it.

But Daniel Dwase, editor of the online Child Development Guide, says that the singing isn't enough, even though it teaches rhythm, language, and communication, but that adding in dancing teaches balance and coordination as well, for a fun, musical gray matter workout.

That's the kind of workout I can get behind.

Do you sing and dance with your baby?


Image via iStock/skynesher

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