Did you know that singing will soothe your baby much better than talking? It’s true. And if you think about how many generations have passed down some of our favorite lullabies – or how far back Celtic cradle songs date, for example – it seems like mothers in particular have known this truth forever. It’s one of those maternal instincts that you’ve probably latched onto without even thinking about, just like swaying back and forth when soothing your baby to sleep.
Even if singing to your baby doesn’t come naturally to you, or you feel silly doing it because someone will hear you, push all those doubts aside and brush up on your lullabies. Or pick one of your favorite songs – from whatever genre – and turn it into something special for your little one. You may find that the words or the melody just come to mind, from the connection you have to your baby and the rhythms you develop as you interact, smile and hold. Your natural “song” may be different for each child you have. If your song is made up of nonsense words, or you’re singing out of tune, who cares? Not your baby. If it’s Mommy’s voice, in a soothing tone, your baby will respond. After all, your voice is the first one your child hears from your womb, and the first one your child will recognize at birth. It’s literally music to his or her adorable little ears.
Music brings on a range of emotions for adults and older kids, lifting us up, making us cry, setting a mood or telling a story. We respond to it and we connect with it. When we listen to music, we don't just hear it – we also think about it, feel it, and move to it. Your baby can’t move to music yet, but research shows babies do have the mental ability to get wrapped up in it. And often, music will calm them for twice as long as when you’re talking to them. Nursery rhymes or lullabies are particularly effective, probably because they’re simple with a lot of repetition.
Music even helps babies refine their listening skills and recognize patterns of speech and the nuances of a language. Think about when we talk … we tend to drop our voices and slow down at the end of a sentence, just as notes tend to slow down and pitch falls at the end of a musical phrase. So you have many reasons to sing to your little one: you’ll help your baby’s development, you’ll plant the seeds for a lifelong love of music, you’ll soothe during fussy times and calm yourself down, too. Another reason to sing? Before long, your baby will join in and you won’t want to miss out on that!