Music and child development are inextricably linked! As an adult, when you hear a certain song it might evoke strong memories for you, such as the first date with your partner or when you moved into your first house for example, or you might find certain songs make you feel happy or sad and so on. So it is with music and child development; music can tell a child’s brain it’s time to settle down for bed or it might encourage her to let off steam. It can also be part of a game, for instance you might get her to pack all her toys away before the music finishes.When your child is too young to put together more than a few words, she will like music and rhythm as it will help her brain to remember ’chunks’ of language and encourage her to say difficult words. She will join in by trying to sing along even though she can’t really hold a tune, by clapping her hands, by shaking a toy along or banging a drum to the rhythm, or just wiggling in time with the music.
She will love songs with actions because a child’s brain can remember actions better than it can remember words. Try to get her to join in with action songs as you’re waiting for the bus, for the rain to stop, for grandma to arrive or when travelling on a long journey.
She will enjoy dancing so put on her favourite music and let her stand on your feet, dance in your arms or just bop along to her own rhythm. She might have excellent rhythm or she may just race around but it doesn’t matter, it’s great practice for her to listen and move to the beat of different types of movement. Play games with her like asking her to dance like she was a flower or to plod along as if she’s wearing heavy boots.
Toy Box Tips
* Musical boxes
* Key boards, from kick keyboards to her first electric keyboard
* Drum kits
* Karaoke machines
* Toy instruments. Try the Build A Band or Musical Bandstand.
Sooth a baby
* Newborns’ brains respond naturally to the rhyme of music, probably because the womb was so full of rhythm. Place a cassette player next to her and play soft instrumental music, and songs with repeated melodies.
* She will like to listen to the vacuum cleaner or the washing machine in action.
Dance a baby diddy
Dance a baby diddy (dance him on your knee)
What can I do widdy
Sit on a lap (do the action)
Then do it again with different actions:
* Give her a pat (action)
* Fly her high
* Lie her down
* Ride a horse
Sing to the tune of three blind mice doing the actions as suggested.
Walk walk stop.
Walk walk stop
Hoppity hoppity hoppity hoppity stop
Walk walk stop
Find a nice soft floating scarf and run about to the music. This is even better played in the garden on a windy day.
Partly fill a coffee tin with lentils, rice or dried beans. Encourage her to shake the tin to the music, especially if someone else in the family is playing the music.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.