We like to tell parents that they are their child’s first and best teacher because it’s true! Sure, parents may not always know all the answers—like that initial night home from the hospital (now what?!) or when a baby experiences a growth spurt and wakes up every two hours (why?!).
But, thankfully parenting is not about personally knowing all of the answers all of the time. It doesn’t change the fact that parents ARE the early childhood experts when it comes to their own children.
Of course, everyone needs a little help and affirmation now and again…even the experts. Music can be the go-to resource to help make parenting just a little bit easier and support a parents’ unique role in a young child’s life. In fact, we think music gives parents super powers! Music can provide moments throughout the day (or night) to pause and celebrate the parent-child bond and reinforce a young baby’s development. Here are a few ways babies benefit when parents add music to their parenting toolkit.
10 Reasons for Parents to Give Babies a Daily Dose of Music
1. Rocking, swaying, bouncing, and dancing to music develop babies’ vestibular system. This system is responsible for helping the brain understand gravity, gain balance, and develop spatial awareness.
Parenting tip: Put on some music. Pick up your baby and dance. Dancing together will also release endorphins for a mood boost! Who doesn’t need that?
2. Steady beat gives children the ability to walk effortlessly, speak expressively, read fluidly, and even ultimately regulate repeated motions such as riding a bicycle or brushing teeth.While young infants are learning how to control their movements, lap bounces allow them to feel a steady beat with their whole bodies. Older babies benefit from lap bounces as they work to keep their bodies upright while in motion, strengthening the core muscles.
Parenting tip: Try this lap bounce from Kindermusik@Home or make up one of your own. Bounce together when waiting at the doctor’s office or at a restaurant to help pass the time.
3. Playing instruments develops fine motor skills. Grasping instruments between the thumb and index finger or with a fisted grasp pattern encourages the development of fine motor skills, which babies will later use to hold a pencil or spoon, use scissors, or maybe even play the piano!
Parenting tip: Provide baby-safe instruments for your child to play with in the car. Put on some favorite music and sing along!
4. Vocal play exposes babies to the sounds of language and teaches them the structure of communication as a parent-child pair take turns “talking.” The ideal time to engage in vocal play is when faces are close together so a baby can mimic facial expressions and watch an adult’s mouth move.
Parenting tip: Try this vocal play activity from Kindermusik@Home during diaper changes or when sitting quietly together.
5. Music develops babies’ growing discriminatory listening skills by hearing the various sounds of instruments and the voices of adults singing and humming. This ability to detect and attend to sounds—and to distinguish between them—sets babies on the path to fine-tuned listening and receptive language.
Parenting tip: Go on a listening walk to hear the musical sounds found in nature. Point out the different sounds you hear together: birds, leaves moving in the breeze, dogs barking, etc.
6. Dancing and moving to music supports cross-lateral movement, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, and eye tracking—foundational skills for reading.
Parenting tip: Try holding your baby in different ways while you dance together.
7. Participating in music activities in a group supports social and emotional development. When we sing, clap, bounce, or dance to a steady beat in a group with babies, these shared experiences of synchronous movement help form social bonds.
Parenting tip: Invite friends and their children over for a musical play date. Not sure where to begin?
8. Listening to soothing music can help teach young children how to relax. In fact, our heartbeats actually synchronize with the music we hear. Added bonus: Children who know how to relax and self-soothe can be better sleepers.
Parenting tip: Make a playlist of lullabies and add to the nightly routine to signal bedtime.
9. Pairing a word with a movement increases children’s understanding of the concept even before they can speak.
Parenting tip: Try this activity from Kindermusik@Home. Make up your own verses to mirror what you and your baby are doing.
10. The benefits of music enables a child’s brain to more quickly process and retain information, regulate behaviors, make good choices, solve problems, plan, and adjust to changing mental demands.
Parenting tip: Sing, dance, and make music with your child throughout the day!Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell on www.mindsonmusic.kindermusik.com.