From Bach to the Beatles: Getting your child engaged with music

You instinctively sing to your baby to soothe him, hum while you’re changing a diaper, maybe even pop in your favorite CD and sway him to the beat during playtime.

What you may not realize is that all of this musical stimulation engages more than a baby’s sense of hearing. Music offers strong emotional and memory cues, provide a sense of rhythm and balance, help his brain development, and even make a child more receptive to learning.

In short, music + babies = good stuff.

Will it make a baby a genius if you play Mozart for him? Probably not. In which case, don’t limit yourself to classical. All music that you bring into your baby’s world can contribute to his development in a positive way--provided you keep it at a reasonable volume. Get too loud and the baby simply tunes out everything. Which explains why a baby can easily fall asleep while you’re vacuuming, should you ever manage to find the time to vacuum with a newborn.

Of course lullabies and nursery rhymes are an outstanding place to start, considering newborns respond best to simple, repetitive melodies. They also prefer familiar voices, so no matter how bad you think yours is, it still may be better than Barbra Streisand’s as far as your baby is concerned.

Since you know your baby best, experiment with different tempos and rhythms and see what your baby likes. Beatles? Britney? Maori tribal chants? Everything in your collection is worth a shot.

You can also get your child interested in various rhythms simply in the way that you bounce him on your knee. Research shows that babies bounced in the tempo of a waltz instead of a march become more apt to prefer waltzes than marches. Amazing.

As your baby gets older and forms the ability to grasp an object, no need to jump right into violin lessons. Simple instruments like maracas or a toy xylophone can be thrilling to a young child because they help him understand cause and effect, demonstrating he has power over his world by rewarding his actions with a pleasing sound.

You can even improvise by turning over a plastic tub and offering an older child a wooden spoon for him to bang to his heart’s content. Just know, it’s definitely noisy; you may regret it later.

But the easiest way of all to help get your baby excited about music is simply to dance together any chance you get. Most mamas already do it instinctively— just hold him tight in your arms, sway to the beat, and he’ll start connecting the sounds he hears to the fun sensation of the movement potentially solidifying a love for all things melodic.

Besides—it’s more mom time for him. And all babies love mom time, even more than they love music.

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