Pregnancy is an amazing journey filled with excitement, wonder, and the anticipation of meeting your little one for the first time. Even before birth, it’s a time when parents typically start thinking about how they can provide the best possible environment for their baby’s overall well-being and development. Did you know you can start your baby’s education long before they are even born? Activities like singing, playing music, and reading stories aloud can foster your baby’s brain development in the womb.
Now, let’s dive into the many benefits of adopting these practices early.
Building Baby’s Brain in the Belly
We know from science that a baby’s brain development begins as early as the third week of pregnancy according to a 2018 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The experiences in the womb can significantly influence cognitive, emotional, and sensory development. Giving your developing infant an early start in utero aims to engage your growing baby’s senses as well as expose them to positive stimuli, setting the stage for a stimulating and educationally rich environment upon their arrival.
Sing, Baby, Sing!
It’s never too soon to begin singing to your baby, which you can preferably do before as well as after birth. As a matter of fact, a study by the National Institute of Health found that parental singing and overall home musical environment score significantly predicted word comprehension in infants under 12 months. Singing is not only a wonderful way to establish a deep connection with your baby, but it also promotes early cognitive development.
Nothing is sweeter than the sound of your voice to your bundle of joy. Your voice is the very first sound your baby will recognize. In addition to providing a sense of comfort and familiarity to your baby, singing your favorite songs, especially lullabies, will help your baby become accustomed to the rhythm and tones of your voice. Your baby becomes attuned to the cadence and intonation of your speech, which lays the foundation for language acquisition, comprehension, and expression after birth.
Music and Baby’s Brain Development
Playing music to your baby in the womb is an extraordinarily beneficial practice. There are countless studies that show that music can have a calming effect on both the mother and the baby. Research has also proven that exposure to music during pregnancy may help in the development of auditory (hearing) pathways as well as enhance memory and expand learning capabilities.
Listen to a variety of music — especially rich melodies from jazz, classical, or your favorite soothing tunes. This early exposure will lay the foundation for a lifelong love of music from every genre from pop, R&B, hip hop, rock, classical, country, jazz and so much more later in life.
Read Aloud, Baby!
Reading stories out loud to your baby in the womb is an excellent way to introduce language and storytelling. As you read, your baby can hear the rhythm, melody, and various language sounds.
The Free Library of Philadelphia offers a variety of free programs for babies and toddlers at 23 library locations across the city. Read, Baby, Read aims to help our city’s littlest learners develop literacy skills to last a lifetime through fun, interactive activities like singing, movement, music, and more! Learn more now on our event calendar, and find participating Free Library locations near you to join. Stay tuned for additional resources and literary tips on the Read, Baby, Read Instagram page.
Read, Baby, Read is made possible through generous support from the William Penn Foundation to the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation.