Musical Play for Baby Development

Music is everywhere in our lives. We use it to calm and soothe in lullabies, communicate joy through singing and dancing and to interact with others. But did you know that music actually supports a baby’s brain development?!

Research shows that musical experiences in childhood can help brain development, particularly in language and reading skills. Babies learn through repetition. Repeating songs and movements allows your baby to develop their ‘receptive speech’ and coordination more quickly.
Music helps to strengthen memory skills by retaining tunes, lyrics and actions from early on – which is why many different baby & toddler activities will use songs and rhymes to aid learning.

Baby Signing is a great example of this, with many of the signs learnt with the help of music and songs – both for parent and child! It’s not just babies who learn through music after all… I know I can remember every single word of the songs I listened to while doing my GCSEs at school – and their associations with history or science!

Babies need and want to communicate from early on – a long time before they are actually verbal – and often their inability to communicate ends in frustration and tears. Baby Signing offers a toolbox of simple signs to support a child’s communication. It is not a language in itself and doesn’t replace words, but it’s an opportunity to build on your child’s natural gestures – for example pointing to their mouth when hungry – to boost communication skills and self-esteem. Babies feel listened to and understood, reducing frustration as their needs are met quickly and consistently.

Baby Signing can also provide a wonderful bonding experience as you engage together. There are not many other things that you will have the opportunity to learn alongside your baby. And the same is true for taking part in a music or movement session with your little one. Seeing the wriggles of excitement and the squeals of delight as they join in are lovely moments to enjoy and share.

But getting back to music and its specific benefits for little ones…. A study by scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) showed that a series of music-based play sessions improved nine month old babies’ brain processing of both music and new speech sounds. Experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music (for example by being helped to tap along to the rhythm of a song) improved their ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech.

Like music, language has strong rhythmic patterns. The timing of syllables helps listeners define one speech sound from another and understand what someone is saying. And it’s the ability to identify differences in speech sounds that helps babies to learn to speak.

There are also links between children’s understanding of routines and music. Babies eat, sleep, play, repeat – and the routines of day to day life can help to create stability and calm. It is the same with the rhythms of music, which reinforce the understanding of patterns. These patterns in turn help to calm and soothe young children. In the same way as a routine helps children to understand what’s coming next and what to expect, the patterns and ‘known quantities’ of music can have a calming effect.

If you’d like to come and try one of our music based classes, Baby Music or Baby Boogie, or try out Baby Signing you can find more information on our local and online classes at www.busylizzy.co.uk

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