brain development

Does Music Help Baby Brain Development?

Do you want to help your baby develop a healthy brain? It may be as simple as playing music

Studies have shown that babies exposed to music before they turn one have better brain development than those who don’t. 

The studies found that the music played was vital, making sure it’s quality and appropriate for your little one! 

Can Music Help With Baby’s Brain Development?

The Baby’s brain is constantly developing and making new neural connections. 

So many things around them can positively impact their development—including, as some researchers believe, music!

So, why is music so impactful? We know that music engages many regions of the brain at once. 

It is also an essential part of many play, social-emotional, communication, and sensory experiences and can strengthen those experiences.

How Music Helps the Brain Develop

So what does this mean for your Baby? Exposing your baby to music and teaching the basics of how music works may help your Baby learn the language faster.

Learning a language and learning the fundamentals of music are almost identical. 

From birth, typical babies quickly learn to tune into their parents’ voices—long before they understand any actual words. 

The conversation is little more than patterns of rhythms and sounds that convey emotional meaning at this stage.

Around three to six months of age, typical babies start experimenting with their voices to produce a wide variety of sounds, including shrieks, coos, squeals, yells and other vocalisations. 

These random sounds quickly sort themselves into “babbling,” or non-speech that follows the cadence and patterns of speech. 

Consonant sounds soon emerge, and babies begin to experiment with repetition, rhythm and complexity.

Studies have shown that exposing your Baby to music can speed up the process of them learning to speak and help your baby master complex language concepts faster.

Language acquisition, or learning to speak, is natural for most babies—in other words, they pick up a language simply through exposure. 

In a study of 9-month-old babies conducted at the University of Washington, researchers studied the effect of exposure to music on babies’ brains. 

Researchers exposed one group of babies to the waltz during social play. Another group was allowed to play without listening to any music.

After 12 sessions, the babies’ brain responses were measured. 

Scientists discovered that the babies who had been exposed to music had enhanced pattern recognition and could better predict rhythm patterns — both necessary skills to learn how to speak or pick up a new language. 

In their conclusion, the team of scientists noted that other studies have shown that musical training can help with the language.

Interestingly, while it appears that simply listening to music can help, musical training is even more powerful, according to the researchers. 

Introducing your Baby to musical concepts, whether singing or letting him pound on a drum or shake a tambourine, will develop the same areas of the brain needed to master a language.

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brain development

Music Experiences Promote Predictability and Enjoyment

Music naturally creates a social, playful mood, which is the best learning environment for your little one. 

Not only will babies have fun in these surroundings, but music will also create a sense of predictability. 

This is because after hearing a song repeatedly, children will begin to know what to expect, when to dance and how to sing along. 

Using music as a part of a routine can further help create a sense of predictability, reduce anxiety and help with executive function development. 

Music Therapy Can Help Promote Positive Emotions.

Children’s music activities naturally use different senses and skills.

Children don’t just listen to music—they sing, they use facial expressions, they make physical gestures, they get moving! This means that the impact of music is much more than sensory—it’s also using a motor, communication, and play skills.

Music Promotes Bonding

Not only does music promote socialising and play, but dancing and playing together supports moving together with the rhythm, which in turn promotes bonding. 

This is especially powerful if the parents, caregivers, or siblings perform music together, as a shared goal leads to bonding as a group.

Singing to Infants Captures and Keeps Their Attention

They’ll naturally be drawn to the source of the singing, so it can be a great tool if you have time with your little one. This also helps get Baby’s attention, so babies are more open to learning when music is involved.

So how can you and your child engage with music? Here are some easy ways to enjoy the power of music together.

  • Dance together!
  • Find ways to perform and make music together.
  • Consider music lessons.
  • Sing out loud.
  • Try teaching new classes or telling stories in song.
  • Have regular times when you listen to music, such as in the car or before dinner.

Music and Parent Interaction Can Help Babies Understand Language

A study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) found that playing music to 9-month old babies improved understanding of rhythm in speech and music.

The study followed 20 babies as they played children’s music while engaging in some rhythm exercises with their parents. 

Another set of 19 babies were given toys to play with, but we’re not playing music. 

After a week, the babies were brain scanned while the music was played, only this time the song was occasionally interrupted to observe the effects on the brain. 

The babies in the “music group” showed more significant responses to disruptions in music and speech.

This study is the first to demonstrate that a type of enriched experience with sound other than language can influence infants’ speech sound processing.

Early Music Training Can Benefit Children Before They Can Walk and Talk

Similar to the previous study, researchers from McMaster University studied the effects of music on young children as supplemented by parental interaction. 

The researchers studied two classes of one-year-olds: an “interactive” music group, where the children learn percussion instruments and lullabies with their parents, and a “passive” music group, where the children played with toys while “Baby Einstein” played in the background. 

They found that the children participating in interactive music classes “smile more, communicate better and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.”

Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their parents showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music. 

Specifically, they preferred to listen to a version of a piano piece that stayed in key versus a performance that included out-of-key notes.

Interestingly, the same could not be said for the passive music group. 

Infants who participated in the passive listening classes did not show the same preferences. Even their brains responded to music differently. 

Infants from the interactive music classes showed more significant and earlier brain responses to musical tones.

Lullabies and Other Music Therapy Can Help Premature Development

A study titled The Effects of Music Therapy on Vital Signs, Feeding, and Sleep in Premature Infants recently found positive effects to singing lullabies and playing simulated womb sounds. 

These findings were improved blood oxygen levels, sucking behaviour, and decreased stress as perceived by the parents.

Music therapists monitored two hundred seventy-two babies from 11 different Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) for 32 weeks. 

Womb sounds were simulated using various instruments to produce “whoosh” audio cues that were synchronised with Baby’s vital signs. 

Each Baby was either tiny for their age or had a particular health condition.

Many NICUs are noisy, or people put on random lullabies that are recorded. What we’re saying is, it’s not just any old lullaby that’s recorded; it’s the power of the parent’s voice synchronised therapeutically and the other two sounds that can have a therapeutic benefit.

It may be a while before we find conclusive evidence on the benefits of music on infants, but the existing research shows that your children have more to benefit from listening to music than from not. 

Music doesn’t necessarily make children more intelligent, but it does prime the brain for specific thought processes.

Researchers think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. 

This doesn’t mean that other types of music aren’t suitable. Listening to any music helps build music-related pathways in the brain. 

And music can have positive effects on our moods that may make learning easier.

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Music Games for Kids of All Ages

Children of all ages express themselves through music. Even young infants sway, bounce, or move their hands in response to music. 

Many preschoolers makeup songs and, with no self-consciousness, sing to themselves as they play. 

Children in elementary school learn to sing together as a group and learn to play a musical instrument. 

Older children dance to the music of their favourite bands and use music to form friendships and share feelings. 

Try these activities and games with your children to experience the pleasure and learning that music brings.

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Infants and Music: 

Infants recognise the melody of a song long before they understand the words. Quiet, background music can be soothing for infants, especially during sleep time.

Loud background music may overstimulate an infant by raising the noise level of the room. Sing simple, short songs to infants. 

Try making up one or two lines about bathing, dressing, or eating to sing to them while you do these activities. Find more musical learning activities for infants.

Toddlers and Music: 

Toddlers love to dance and move to the music. The key to toddler music is repetition, which encourages language and memorisation. 

Silly songs make toddlers laugh. Try singing a familiar song and inserting a stupid word in the place of the correct word, like “Mary had a little spider” instead of lamb. 

Let children reproduce rhythms by clapping or tapping objects.

Preschoolers and Music: 

Preschoolers enjoy singing just to be singing. They aren’t self-conscious about their ability, and most are eager to let their voices roar. 

They like songs that repeat words and melodies, use rhythms with a solid beat, and ask them to do things. 

Preschool children enjoy nursery rhymes and songs about familiar things like toys, animals, play activities, and people. 

They also like fingerplays and nonsense rhymes with or without musical accompaniment.

School-Age Children and Music: 

Most young school-age children are intrigued by kids’ singalong songs that involve counting, spelling, or remembering a sequence of events. 

School-age children begin expressing their likes and dislikes of different types of music. 

They may express an interest in music education, such as music lessons for kids.

Teens and Music: 

Teenagers may use musical experiences to form friendships and to set themselves apart from parents and younger kids. 

They often want to hang out and listen to music after school with a group of friends. 

Remember those days of basement and garage bands? Teens often have a strong interest in taking music lessons or playing in a band.

There is no downside to bringing children and music together through fun activities. We can enjoy the benefits of music from the moment we’re born. Although a good dose of Mozart is probably not increasing our brainpower, it’s enjoyable and beautiful. 

From the pure pleasure of listening to soothing sounds and rhythmic harmonies to gaining new language and social skills, music can enliven and enrich the lives of children and the people who care for them.

What Is the Mozart Effect?

The Mozart Effect is a term that researchers coined in 1993. It describes how the exposure of children to Amadeus Mozart’s music, a classical composer from the 18th century, can help them with cognitive development. 

The Mozart effect emphasises that playing Mozart stimulates brain development, improves IQ, and spurs creativity in children. 

Playing Mozart to your Baby even during pregnancy can help stimulate sophisticated neural trails that allow the brain to process information. 

Babies exposed to Mozart early in life can learn to speak and hear more quickly and effectively. 

Will Mozart Make Your Baby Smarter and More Creative? 

The Mozart effect first came to the limelight in 1993 when a study published in the journal Science found that children who listened to Mozart’s sonata for ten minutes showed significant improvement in spatial reasoning tests than those who listened to other relaxation sounds.  

As a result of this study, playschools in the US started to play Mozart to children. 

The study’s findings even led the southern state of Georgia to provide babies with free Mozart CDs. 

The same study also examined the long-term effects of Mozart on the brain of babies. A group of participants comprising 3 to 4-year-old babies were given keyboard lessons for six months. 

After the music lesson, the participants’ performance on a spatial reasoning test saw 30 per cent improvement compared to children who undertook computer training or no training at all for the same duration. 

This finding further underscored the importance of music in the cognitive development of children.  

Another study investigated the effects of Mozart on rats. During the investigation, rats were exposed to Mozart before and after birth. 

The participating rats found their way to the end of a maze more quickly than the rats not exposed to Mozart. 

The Benefits of Mozart for Babies

Mozart can be used to train the brain for specific kinds of thinking and reasoning in babies. 

After listening to classical music like Mozart, babies can do specific spatial tasks effectively and more quickly, like solving a jigsaw puzzle. But how does this happen?

There exists a drastic resemblance between the classical music pathways in the brain and the neural trails we use for spatial reasoning. 

When we are exposed to classical music, mainly Mozart, the spatial pathways in the brain are stimulated and prepared for use. 

This stimulation makes the mind more active, leading to more intelligence. 

Music Lesson and Spatial Reasoning

Music lessons, especially learning to play an instrument, leave long-term effects on brain development and spatial reasoning. 

Many studies investigated the impact of piano lessons on children and their ability to solve puzzles. 

The findings suggest that music lessons help children perform spatial tasks more effectively and quickly. The reason why this happens is that playing instruments creates new mental pathways. 

Why Classical Music?

Classical music is more complicated than music like country and rock. 

When babies as young as three months old listen to classical music like Mozart, they can pick out the sophisticated structure and even distinguish classical music medleys they have heard before. 

Mozart and other classical music’s complex structure triggers the brain to make babies more intelligent and witty. 

This means that exposing babies to classical music leaves different effects on the brain than when exposed to other forms of music.

While listening to any music is beneficial for children, classical music leaves more effective outcomes on babies’ brains and mood. 

The brain works as a result of the neural network and synapses. Neurons and synapses develop quickly after birth and wait to be stimulated to create connections. 

An active neural network forms only due to a specific stimulus. When all brain areas are primed, new neural networks are created, and the brain connections grow in compactness. 

Classical music, like Mozart, is the best way to trigger the formation of neural connections. 

Studies have already found that a baby’s brain develops to 90 per cent of its adult capacity during the initial two years following birth. 

Neural connections formed during this period affect the individual’s entire life. 

How to Help Your Baby?

There are many ways to help improve spatial reasoning and neural development in your Baby.

One of the best and most effective ways to accomplish this is to expose your Baby to Mozart and other classical music. 

Letting your baby play with instruments and enrolling him or her in music lessons can go a long way toward achieving this goal. 

You can use soft lullabies and soft Mozart as background music to relax your baby and help him sleep

It can not only spur mental development but also improve the quality of sleep for your little one. 

Soft Mozart relaxes the nervous system and supports healthy psychological functioning. 

Start Now

The best thing you can do for your Baby gets him or her started with music lessons early on. 

You do not need to wait until your kid is in primary school to start music lessons. Most children between the ages of four and five are ready to start learning the basics of music. 

Early intervention can help your Babygrow into an intelligent adult, besides improving his or her academic performance and life skills. 

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