The newest research is telling us that babies can benefit from taking music lessons with their parents. The researchers found that babies who take interactive music classes with their parents communicate better, smile more and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.
Music For Baby Shows Positive Results
The research was published in the scientific journals Developmental Science and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
"Many past studies of musical training have focused on older children," says Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind. "Our results suggest that the infant brain might be particularly plastic with regard to musical exposure."
In the study, groups of babies and parents spent six months in one of two types of weekly music instruction. One class involved interactive music and learning a small set of lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs with actions. Babies and parents worked together to learn to play various percussion instruments and sing specific songs. In the other music class, parents and babies played at different toy stations while "Baby Einstein" recordings played in the background.
All the babies had shown similar communication and social development study and none of the babies had participated in other baby music classes.
"Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their parents showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music," says Trainor. "Specifically, they preferred to listen to a version of a piano piece that stayed in key, versus a version that included out-of-key notes. 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 larger and/or earlier brain responses to musical tones."
Perhaps, more surprising were the non-musical differences between the two groups of babies following the experiment. Babies from the interactive classes showed better early communication skills such as pointing at objects that were out of reach, or waving goodbye. They also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress in unfamiliar or frustrating situations.
The biggest difference between the two groups was that the babies in the first group had interactive experiences with their parents and music. The second group had a more passive experience with music and did not reap the same benefits.
This research is wonderful to see because it emphasizes the value of innovative interaction between parents and infants.
Music For Baby Activities
It is very easy for parents to add some musical activities to your baby's day.
- helping them turn lots of items into percussion instruments and helping them bang along to different types of music. You can use the standard pots and pans, oatmeal containers, or even the top of their plastic high chair tray with a wooden spoon. Your imagination is your only limit.
- encouraging them to clap their hands, pat their knees and stomp their feet to music (you can do variations of this with any age baby)
- Dance with your baby in your arms to the music. Spin with them. Bob up and down and encourage them to swing their arms and move their legs.
Spend a few extra minutes each week thinking about and doing innovative musical activities with your baby. This research clearly shows the benefit of doing this with our babies. Until next time, keep Innovating your Baby!
Get 101 additional parent/baby activities that are proven to develop your child's brain in my latest book Time You Can’t Get Back: What Every Parent Needs to be Doing During Baby’s First Year.