Singing a lullaby to your little one at bedtime is a more effective soothing strategy than talking to her, says Dr Bettye M Caldwell, professor of paediatrics in child development and education.
Do you know that singing will soothe your baby better than talking? If you think about how many generations have passed down some of our favourite lullabies, it seems like moms, in particular, have always known this. It’s one of those maternal instincts that you’ve probably latched onto without even thinking about, just like rocking your baby to sleep.
The benefits of singing to your baby
Even if singing to your baby doesn’t come naturally, or you feel silly doing it because someone will hear you, push all those doubts aside and brush up on your lullabies. Pick one of your favourite 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 her.
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.
Music can help babies refine their listening skills and recognise 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 her development, you’ll plant the seeds for a lifelong love of music, and you’ll soothe her 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.
Written by Dr Bettye M Caldwell, professor of paediatrics in child development and education on behalf of Fisher-Price.
*Fisher-Price 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.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.