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  • Writer's pictureCindy Baker, MA, CLE

Music and Your Baby

Children love music! They enjoy listening to it, and they love making it!

Research shows that making music changes your child's brain activity!

Music tends to put a smile on everyone's face. Although we all have personal preferences re: genres of music, and what we prefer on our playlist, baby & toddler music is primarily about rhythm and positivity. Parents consistently tell me, "Oh, my baby loves music!" They then detail the reactions and movements with great pride and excitement. However, adults tend to be more hesitant than children when it comes to making music. Parents usually next tell me "But I can't sing, I have a terrible voice." The truth is, children aren't fussy about the tune being correct, or the words being perfect, they mostly only care that it's fun with Mom or Dad! Usually, the sillier the better!

Music helps children by increasing social, physical, cognitive and communication skills. Music is a great way to show emotions. Banging a drum, quietly humming, & bouncing to the beat all help children feel important about a skill that pleases themselves as well as others. Children learn to cooperate by taking turns while sharing instruments and they often imitate one another as they develop early friendships.

Music is always a great accompaniment to exercise. Movements become more joyful and entertaining and this can encourage your child to repeat their actions over and over as they master a new move or skill. Adding a song to a new or difficult skill such as climbing the stairs, or walking along a curb can provide incentive for extra effort and adding staying power to the activity. Changing the tempo, tone of voice (have fun with an accent!) or varying the volume also helps to elongate attention and improve motivations.

Music is also a proven tool to increase vocalizations and improve memory skills. Putting familiar songs to everyday experiences and activities is a great way to get through everyday routines that can be challenging --> dressing, diaper changing, and getting buckled in the car seat are all more tolerable when you are singing and your little one is listening, anticipating, and watching your facial expressions!

In the car, putting on your toddler radio or belting out a familiar tune will almost always help to beat the traffic and carseat blues.

Instruments can be simple or authentic - homemade or professional. Drumming can be as simple as tapping a pencil or strumming with fingernails. Crumpling paper, banging a rattle, or hitting a mylar balloon can all be done to rhythm. It might sound like 'just noise' to some, but it's music to your baby!

Keep a basket of musical objects and instruments handy in your home - rotate favorite & novel items to keep it fresh! Check out these resources for making some of your own fabulous instruments at home!

Bang & Shake:

Assorted rattles



Sandpaper blocks






Recorder/play flute

Crumple & Crinkle:

Wax paper

Mylar balloon

Wrapping paper

Fabrics - corduroy, satin, tulle, netting

Remember, regardless of what type of music or what type of day, music should be relaxing and pleasurable. Whining or fussing can usually be re-directed by launching into song. Starting a regular music routine is easy, and you will quickly notice your baby's new reactions, movements and joyful expressions! Sharing and making music should be a regular and important part of your baby's development!

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