Singing to your baby: Singing to babies is something that people all over the world do irrespective of the varied backgrounds, traditions and cultures they come from. Some start singing to their babies while the baby is still in the womb.
Why do we do it? It is our natural way of bonding with the baby.
Our own way of showing our baby that we love them.
- Benefits of singing to your baby
- When should you start singing to your baby
- What to sing to your baby
- Tips to sing to your baby
Research says that in recent times, emphasis has been more on other activities that focus on language development than singing.
Singing is a great way to language development too!
But, Why have we not laid emphasis on something that is so natural and instead focus on those difficult “things to do” to “better development”?
What is our natural response when a baby is cranky towards bedtime?
We rock them and SING to them.
What do we do when we want to play with our babies without using a toy or any other object? We SING.
There are a lot of benefits of singing to babies than just playing or soothing a baby!
Benefits of singing to your baby:
More than anything else, Singing helps you bond with your baby as you sing to them.
Have you noticed that when you sing, your baby keenly looks into your eyes and observes you? It sends a message that you love them.
This is why it is important that YOU sing to your baby.
Not spotify or amazon music or any other gadget.
You baby needs to hear you sing. Babies bond when they hear your voice and feel your touch.
Nothing can replace your voice.
It doesn’t matter if you have a great voice of if you are out of pitch. To your baby, you’re a star!
Singing relaxes and soothes a baby:
I have always wondered why singing soothes a baby. Here’s why!
“Dutch and Hungarian researchers have determined that day-old infants can identify rhythmic patterns.”
So, this shows that understanding these rhythmic patterns is not something that is learnt. It’s innate!
I have also noticed that a crying baby reacts to a mother or a caregiver singing than when music is played on a phone or a computer.
The reason behind this is that the baby is used to your voice.
(A bit of a detour: If you are finding it difficult to pacify your baby when your baby is crying. Please read our highly appreciated article Why is my Baby Crying? Tips to calm your crying Baby to get more tips and tricks.)
So, it’s not just the music, It’s YOUR singing that your baby requires to calm him down.
Because it’s your voice that your baby has been hearing, from even before he was born.
Singing to my 6-month-old works like a charm every single time. Be it to calm him or put him to sleep.
Especially when he wakes up in the middle of the night! Not only does it calm him, it calms me and gives me the patience I need to put him back to sleep.
Singing to your baby is probably the first exposure to structured language that your child is exposed to.
A baby learns new words and retains the words learnt through songs better.
Have you ever wondered that while we find it difficult to mug up a simple paragraph, we are able to register the lyrics of a song in mind? Without even consciously making an effort to memorise it? Also, oftentimes we never forget the lyrics.
It’s the same with babies too! Since music is innate, it helps babies retain words learnt and learn new words easily.
This is also why preschoolers are taught a lot of nursery rhymes instead of prose.
Remember, all of us learnt alphabets the first time by learning the alphabet song.
Also talking to your baby from the time your baby is few weeks old is also a great way to develop language skills in your baby. If you do not know how to baby talk to your baby do read our interesting article How- To TALK to your baby ~ Baby Talk.
Singing is a wonderful way to play with your baby. My baby boy loves it when I move his hands around according to the rhythm of the song when I sing. It amuses him. It’s a wonderful way to interact with your baby.
You can also use your hand as a prop while singing to your baby.
The other day, I noticed my son looking in an animated fashion at a curtain fluttering in the wind.
So, the next time I sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to him, I started showing him actions with my hands and involved him in the song too!. He enjoyed it thoroughly.
This is an easy way to play with your baby without spending too much energy. At the same time, engaging completely with your baby and bonding with him.
Just like singing and playing there are many other day today activities that can help in your baby’s development. As a parent of a new born, a must read is our article on 12 Everyday activities that WILL impact baby’s development.
Singing improves cognitive development:
Just like talking to your baby or storytelling or reading, singing requires listening.
Children listen when we sing as it soothes them and relaxes them. Babies love to hear their mommies sing to them.
Engaging with your baby while singing can hold your baby’s attention much longer too.
This prolonged attention facilitates listening which in turn helps them register whatever is sung to them.
The tune, the rhythm, the words and most of all your voice, your presence, your warmth and your love.
If you like to know other ways of boosting your baby’s IQ do read our blog on 15 ~ Easy ways to Boost your baby’s IQ.
When should you start singing to your baby?
You can start singing to your baby when the baby is in utero itself!
A fetus’s auditory process begins as early as 25 weeks into conception.
I remember singing to my little one during the CTG sessions, a few days before he was born.
The nurses had asked me to talk to the baby and wake him up as the baby wasn’t moving.
And I must say I was surprised at his response from within. I could feel the kicks!
Right from the day he was born, singing has been my “go to” technique (Other than breastfeeding of course) to calm him down whenever he cries or to put him to sleep.
As he grew up, as he eats, as he bathes, as he plays, we sing! It brings in a lot of positive energy. Now, whenever we sing he coos or babbles along.
What to sing?
You can sing anything to your baby. As long as you enjoy it, your baby will enjoy it too
When the baby is young, its all about You singing and bonding through singing as the baby hears your voice.
You can sing lullabies to put your baby to sleep or relax him.
Dont know a lullaby? No problem! Just sing whatever song you know softly and slowly.
Sing in a way that it would put your baby to sleep. The tone, volume and the pace at which you sing is what matters the most at this stage.
As your baby grows you can sing nursery rhymes to your baby.
Ones that you would have learnt when you were a kid!
What better way to bring back your own memories of childhood and recreate it by singing it to and with your baby?
Here’s a list of songs that I sing to my 6 month old:
- Twinkle Twinkle little star
- Baa Baa Black sheep
- If you’re happy and you know it
- You are my sunshine
- The wheels on the bus go
- Old mac Donald had a farm
- Sleep Baby sleep
I know, my sister takes music from the website Nubeat.org. This website is filled with wonderful songs.
Songs filled with good habits and lullabies for the kids. Her little one loves the song “Little eye.. Little eyes.. Go to sleep..”.
My sister herself grew up listening to these songs esp from the album “Time to be Happy” and “Magic of Love” and it’s like a tradition passed across.
You can try it out. It is free!
Tips to sing to your baby:
Sing the same song for an activity
While singing a lullaby to your baby, it is wise to sing the same song everyday (or the same set of songs finishing with the same song each time).
This is because it will help your baby connect the song and sleep time. It will help your baby understand that it is time to sleep when you sing that particular song.
My sister, for her elder son, she would sing “No Never alone…”, and her second one has a Tamil song “Nee sandu thungu chellam mai…”.
She laughs when she tells me that even now at 18 and 16 yrs. When they give her a chance to sing for them during bed time it still works like a charm.
Mix up the words:
You can mix up the words of a well known nursery rhyme and customize it for your baby.
You can include your baby’s name, toys and everything else into the song.
This will eventually encourage your baby to do the same as he grows.
My cousin’s son who is less than 3 yrs old can put his own words to a known tune by himself! It will amaze you what your baby can do!
Here’s how I sing Baa Baa black sheep to my little one:
Baa Baa Black sheep have you any wool?
Yes sir! Yes sir! Three bags full!
One for your daddy
And One for your mommy
One for little ……… (baby’s name) whom we all love so much!
When you sing with your baby to play, make sure that you sing songs that are full of energy.
A lullaby when you want your child to play will not work! Use your hands and engage your child as you sing!
Always remember to notice how your baby is responding to you when you sing.
Singing a play song when your baby is extremely sleepy, or singing a lullaby when your baby wants to play may not work.
So, if your child doesn’t react positively try changing the song you sing.
While you sing to soothe a crying baby, it is important to make sure that your baby is not crying due to hunger, pain or any discomfort.
My sister’s second son would start crying when my she sings his nap time song when he is wide awake.
Just to tease him, we start singing, when he is busy playing during his bath time. His face changes immediately… ha.. ha.. (not that we advocate irritating your baby).
Even now he objects to the song if we sing it during the day saying he is not sleepy.
You don’t have to come up with a new song every single time. Singing the same songs over and over again, will help familiarize the words, tune and the rhythm of the song.
This will be really useful when your baby wants and tries to sing along with you.
You can incorporate singing into your routine by singing during everyday activities.
Singing the same songs enables the child to participate in the singing as he knows what words and gestures to expect when you sing a particular song.
When I say use props, it doesn’t mean you have to buy a particular prop for each song you sing.
You can use your fingers to snap, hands to clap, and your baby’s rattle as you sing.
This will help your baby engage and participate. It will also help babies in sustaining attention.
Trehub, a researcher at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, who has studied the impacts of singing on babies says,
“I wouldn’t ever tell anyone they have to sing; but people should do what gives them pleasure and share that with their baby,”
“It’s not always what you do; it’s more the spirit in which you do it.”
The spirit with which you sing to your baby is what ultimately determines how your singing will benefit your baby.
I would like to emphasize that it is important that YOU sing to your baby.
It doesn’t matter if you can sing or you just can’t sing. Your voice, tone and love is everything your baby needs.
While you can play recorded music, it is important to remember that it is not what our babies crave for.
They want our voices and for us to be connected to them while we sing.
When you sing your baby knows that you are right next to them.
Let us not forget to focus on what comes naturally to us to soothe our babies and go looking for everything complicated.
Let us learn to enjoy the little simple things we do for our babies.
Music is a foolproof way to bond with your baby. Sing, relax and enjoy your time with your little one.
God Bless !!..
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