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Music in the Womb

Your baby’s growth and development in the womb is a remarkable experience. At the beginning of your second month of pregnancy, your little one’s eyes, nose, and ears are clearly visible via ultrasound, and by the fifth month, your baby’s hearing has fully developed. His newfound ability to recognize you and other familiar voices in the environment around him is quickly established.

Benefits of Prenatal Stimulation

Prenatal stimulation through music heard regularly while in the womb might provide some babies with a sense of confidence and relaxation after they’re born. You and your baby also will quickly discover an excellent way to bond and share in the emotional and potential intellectual development benefits this method may bring.

The ABCs of Prenatal Music Stimulation

Prenatal stimulation is a method that uses stimuli such as sounds (mother’s voice and musical ones), movement, pressure, vibrations, and light to communicate with a developing baby prior to birth. While in the womb, Baby learns to recognize and respond to different stimuli, which leads to encouragement of physical, mental, and sensory development. Stimulation exercises will allow Baby to communicate with you and your spouse/partner through her movement in the womb, establish a relationship between specific stimuli (such as your voices) and, most importantly, help develop her memory.

The Right Music Choices for Baby

Does your baby move rhythmically with the strains of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or do you find she kicks up a storm whenever a song by Madonna comes on the car radio? With the right mix of sounds and repetition, Baby may enjoy a mix variety of music.

Most pediatric specialists agree that almost any type of music is suitable for you and Baby to enjoy. “Diversity of different kinds of music are essential and can be useful for the baby’s future writing, reading, and language skills,” says Dr. Philip A. De Fina, chief neuropsychologist and director of neurotherapies at the NYU Brain Research Laboratories.

The Research

Recent scientific research into the effects of prenatal music stimulation varies greatly. Several early childhood researchers believe there is no direct concrete evidence that supports the theory that music stimulation prior to birth means a child has a higher intelligence in her future. Other specialists maintain just the opposite, arguing there are direct studies showing once they are born, babies have the innate ability to recognize their mother’s voices and may be further able to respond to familiar music their family played for them while they were nestled in the womb.

Accurate information has become available to researchers through the use of ultrasound, in utero monitors, and fiber optic television, which provide a fascinating look at life developing inside the womb. Studies by two of the leading early childhood researchers, Thomas R. Verny and Rene Van de Carr, have detailed that babies who have been stimulated while in the womb exhibit advanced visual, auditory, language, and motor development skills. Verny and Van de Carr maintain these babies sleep better, are more alert to their environment and surroundings, and are far more content than infants who did not receive any form of prenatal stimulation.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Just like many things in life, Dr. De Fina believes prenatal music stimulation should be practiced in moderation. “A perfect time to stimulate your baby would be when you decide to take a nap or rest during the day,” she says. Although over-stimulation will not harm your baby physically, it can make Baby feel overwhelmed by the extra attention and she may stop responding to your efforts.

Listen to your moods—if you’re getting tired of hearing the same opera aria, chances are Baby is feeling the same. This should be a special time of enjoyment and bonding shared between you, your spouse/partner, and Baby. Remember, it is not about the amount of time, but the quality of the wonderful experience you are sharing together.

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