Parenting isn't easy. Being a parent is a lot of hard work fraught with worries, anxieties, and self-doubt. The need parents have to provide what is best for their children often leads them to search for unorthodox and sometimes untested strategies to give their offspring an edge or a better start in life.
One of the somewhat controversial practices is exposing babies to music while they are still in the womb. This is often done by placing some type of headphone over a pregnant woman's abdomen and playing music directly at the baby. Although there are various opinions as to the effectiveness of this practice, it is generally considered benign and unlikely to do harm.
Much research has been done as to the effect music has on the brain. Many studies show a definite correlation between music and various positive characteristics. However few conclusive studies have been done on babies exposed to music while still in the womb. While we do know that unborn babies are affected by music, it's not as easy to discern if this effect is positive or negative.
Until we have definite answers, the practice of music exposure in utero will continue to be somewhat controversial and will not be widely recommended by healthcare practitioners. For the time being, parents are advised to proceed with caution if they do choose to give it a try. Moderation and a touch of common sense are advised.
15 What's Good For Mommy Is Good For Baby
Undoubtedly, music can have a profound effect on our mood and state of mind. Music has the power to relax us, or to make us feel energetic. A song can make us feel inspired, or melancholy. The right piece of music can even trigger memories and transport us to a different time in our lives.
Whether positive or negative, music can be a powerful force on our psyche and has the ability to affect our emotions.
As well as influencing our minds and spirits, music also has a tendency to get us moving our physical bodies. A little exercise can go a long way and if a song makes us want to get up off the couch and dance, or put in a bit of extra time at the gym, it's probably worth listening to. The advantages of exercise can't be denied.
Although the link between a woman's mood and the health of her unborn baby is not clear, doctors agree that women that are happy and free of stress and worries tend to have a better outcome for themselves and the baby. We often hear about the negative effects that stress has on our bodies. If a woman finds listening to music relaxing and uplifting, the benefits are certain to outweigh any possible negative side-effects. As always, moderation is the key, but if the experience is enjoyable to the mother, it is not very likely to be doing any harm to her unborn child.
14 The Baby's Reflex Development
There is no doubt that babies in the womb are able to experience sound and music originating from the outside world. Whether they actually hear the music or simply feel the vibrations, are dependent on the baby's stage of development and the volume of the music, as well as proximity to the sound. Regardless of what form sound is received in, babies are capable of not only perceiving the sound but reacting to it.
With the use of ultrasound machines, various studies have shown babies that have been observed attempting to move in sync with the rhythm of the music that they are being exposed to. The attempt at responding to music may improve the unborn baby's reflexes. These rudimentary exercises may stimulate parts of the brain responsible for responding to stimuli as well as the muscles that put those responses into practice.
Although this area of study is still quite new and more research needs to be done, there have been some truly interesting observations made. We can't deny that babies do respond to sounds while still in the womb. Those responses may not always be predictable, and we may not always understand them, but there is no doubt that they do exist.
13 Exercise For The Baby's Auditory Senses
There has been substantial research done which shows a correlation between exposure to music and auditory processing. Studies involving children who have undergone music lessons show that they are more sensitive to harmonics and have an increased accuracy in pitch-difference discrimination when compared to children who have had no music training. A greater exposure to a variety of sounds has a positive effect on auditory processing ability.
Similar studies have also revealed that musical training can have a positive effect on language processing. People who have more experience with music tend to pick up new languages with greater ease.
When it comes to babies, more research needs to be conducted to ascertain that the data is valid and reliable, but some studies suggest that early exposure to music may help infants and toddlers learn how to speak and understand language.
There is no doubt that exposure to music has a positive affect on auditory senses. While the majority of research in this area has been conducted on older children, as well as adults, it is not unreasonable to believe that the benefits of music can begin to be acquired while still in the womb. The results of these studies suggest that exposure to music can improve temporal fine-tuning of auditory perception and sound discrimination.
12 How A Baby's Concentration Progresses
Studies show that listening to music requires focused attention which promotes concentration and develops cognitive abilities. Paying attention to the intricate components of music provides a focal point for the mind. This, in turn, creates new connections within the brain while teaching it how to keep attention on a specific task.
The majority of studies conducted have been designed for older children and adults. Testing the ability of infants to concentrate is more difficult and it is practically impossible to do so before birth. More data is required to get a complete picture of this particular benefit of musical exposure in the womb but the preliminary results are promising. It is certainly reasonable to believe that a young brain would respond in a similar way to an older brain.
The womb doesn't come with many activities for its inhabitant. Music can act as a form of mental stimulation for an unborn baby. While the baby tries to concentrate on the sound waves and vibrations that reach them, they may be gaining new skills that will be useful for their entire lives. An enhanced ability to concentrate would be of tremendous use to anyone and it's no surprise that parents would like to do what they can to facilitate this kind of learning as early as possible.
11 Memories From The Womb
Many parents who chose to expose their unborn babies to music have reported that after birth their baby remembered songs they frequently heard in the womb. Some babies appear to become more alert or excited when hearing these familiar melodies. Others tend to be soothed by them and settle more quickly when hearing a familiar tune.
While the effect that these often played songs have seems to vary, the idea that there is an effect suggests that babies are much more aware of the sounds they hear in the womb, and have a greater ability to concentrate and remember, than we may be aware of.
One study done on two dozen women with non-complicated pregnancies appears to support the claims made by so many parents who advocate for early music exposure. One dozen women were in the control group while the other dozen was given a CD and instructed to listen to it five times per week from week 29 of pregnancy until they gave birth. Four months after the babies were born, scientists found that babies reacted more strongly and showed a significant event-related potential when exposed to the music again in comparison to the babies in the control group.
10 Babies Raised With Music Tend To Be Smarter
In recent years there has been a developing trend for parents to enroll their children in classes that expose them to some type of music. Whether singing, dancing, or acquiring the skills to play a musical instrument, music is becoming a popular hobby for today's children. While once a pastime for the elite, today music lessons are commonplace.
The trigger for this change was caused by evidence that music can have a positive effect on the brain development of children. One Canadian study from 2004 has found that music helps develop the parts of the brain that are responsible for spatial and mathematical intelligence. With other studies achieving similar results, it's not surprising that parents are pushing their children to embrace music at an early age.
While scientists continue to discover a link between music and cognitive development, it is not surprising that parents want to take advantage of the benefits of music for the welfare of their little ones. It was only a matter of time before parents began exposing their babies to music while they were still in the womb. In the highly competitive market of today, every parent wants to give their child an edge over the competition.
9 Mom Can Breathe To The Beat
Proponents of early exposure to music are searching for proof of concept by studying the responses that babies exhibit while hearing music in the womb. Ultrasound machines have been a wonderful tool for this as they allow a real-time glimpse into an unborn baby's world. This technology can show us a great deal of detail and offer significant insight into life within the womb.
Many studies have been done to show how unborn babies actually react to music with the use of ultrasound machines.
This painless and non-invasive procedure is simple. Babies are observed when no music is being played and then observed with the presence of music. Various factors can be measured to ascertain the actual differences being observed.
One of the more surprising findings has been the revelation that after listening to music for a short while, babies will often match their breathing to the vibrations of the music they hear. There have been several studies done to show this effect and it is a well-documented occurrence. With such a profound reaction to sound, there can be little doubt that babies in the womb are hearing the music whether deliberately or not, they are responding to the music they hear.
8 It Can Make A Difference For The Baby's Fitness
Ultrasound machines make it possible for us to peek into the world of unborn babies and help us understand what life in the womb is like. One of the things that these machines have allowed us to observe is that babies have a strong tendency to move in response to sound. These frequent and often vigorous movements resemble a baby fitness class.
Sound exposure encourages overall movement. Whether starting at a loud noise or attempting a rudimentary dance in response to a song, these early movements strengthen muscles and increase exercise levels. Physical activity increases blood flow, strengthens muscles, and improves overall health. We could all benefit from a bit more quality exercise and babies, even tiny ones, are no different in this regard.
It is generally favorable to have an active fetus with frequent movements. Not only does this level of activity benefit the baby, but it also assures mothers that their baby is doing fine and that all is well in their world. Furthermore, many moms agree that those kicks and flutters are a bonding experience between mother and child before the pair ever actually meet. There is no feeling that can compare to carrying another life inside one's body.
7 It's Baby Playtime!
Life in the womb is probably not all that interesting. With limited outside stimuli, there is likely little to do to pass the time. During waking hours a baby that's in the womb doesn't have many entertainment or playtime options.
In the near dark environment of the womb, and with little to explore, sounds are probably the main source of interest to a baby before it is born.
Voices and random noises might be of interest to a tiny baby. There is much proof in terms of studies that have been conducted which demonstrate that babies in the womb do hear a good amount of what's going on in the outside world.
If babies respond to simple sounds that reach their little ears within the womb, it is reasonable to assume that the complex rhythms of music might be of interest to them. Since babies have been observed to respond to music while in the womb, they might be enjoying themselves and developing their sense of play. While monitoring pregnancies, doctors look for active and playful babies as a sign of good health and development. These movements also tend to let moms know that their babies are doing just fine.
6 Responding To The Outside World
Responding to an external stimulus is a necessary part of life and something all living things do to some capacity. It is a simple and natural concept but it does require the coordination of several separate things. First there is the ability to perceive the stimulus, followed by the formulation of a response, and finally the implementation of the chosen course of action.
The ability to respond to an outside stimulus is an integral part of life and a necessity for all sentient forms of life. Although it is natural for any conscious being to respond to what is going on around them, the quality of the response is a learned thing that improves with practice and experience. Some individuals come up with better solutions than others.
Since babies in the womb have a tendency to move in response to sound, these exercises might be teaching the unborn baby about responding to external stimulus. This exposure to sound might be teaching babies about paying attention to their environment, deciding on a course of action, and responding accordingly. In cases where babies have been observed to move in sync with the rhythm of music, they may actually be receiving an early lesson on anticipating a stimulus and formulating an appropriate response.
5 It Can Change Their Sleep Patterns
All living things have an internal clock which dictates when we should sleep. This clock is affected by various factors and varies by species, individual, and life stage. The conditions within the womb are quite different from those on the outside and most unborn babies tend to have sleep patterns that don't match those of their mothers. This is something many parents of newborns can attest to since infants have a tendency to sleep more during the day than they do at night.
Some studies suggest that deliberately exposing babies to music while they are still in the womb interferes with their natural sleep patterns and disrupts sleep quality. Sleeping is a necessary bodily function which allows repairs, restoration, growth, and proper development to occur.
It is extremely important for all living things to get enough quality sleep for proper function and it is even more crucial for children and babies who are in the growth and development phase of life.
Sleep is a necessary component of brain development and we can't know how much of a negative effect excessive music can have on unborn babies. This is why parents who wish to expose their babies to music while they are still in the womb are advised to do so in moderation. It is important to have plenty of quiet time throughout the day to allow proper sleep to occur.
And 5 Reasons Doctors Won't Recommend Music
4 There's A Lack Of Scientific Proof
There have been countless studies done which show that music is beneficial to children. The results of these studies indicate that listening to music and playing a musical instrument makes children smarter. It is not surprising that parents want to take advantage of the benefits of auditory sensation as early as possible to give their children an edge.
If earlier is better then choosing to expose unborn babies to music must be the best strategy of all.
What parents are not taking into account is that the studies showing positive results were done on children over 4 years of age. There has been no correlation discovered between intelligence and exposure to music
in infants or fetuses in any study that can be deemed valid and reliable. At best, more research is needed.
Studies do show that unborn babies respond physically to sounds and music but it is not clear what these responses indicate. While proponents of the practice are quick to cite these responses as proof that the baby is enjoying the experience, skeptics point out that they could just as easily prove annoyance, over stimulation, and anxiety. There is no way to know what babies in the womb actually think or feel.
3 Possible Correlations With Premature Birth
Most advocates of exposing babies to music while they're still in the womb regard the exercise as only potentially beneficial. Few people consider the possibility that there may be adverse effects or serious consequences such as premature birth. However, both sides have to be examined thoroughly before doctors would advise parents to partake in this practice.
In the late 1990s, The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that four studies have shown an increased risk of premature birth in babies that were exposed to loud noise over a long period of time. One of these studies was related to noise exposure due to the mother's occupation where the women were exposed to noise for 8-hour shifts. A second study assessed the residential noise exposure from living in close proximity to airports. The third and fourth study involved self-reported noise exposure in healthcare jobs.
These studies were examining the link between premature birth and noise and not specifically music, however, there is no reason to believe that music isn't perceived as noise by an unborn baby. Although it is unlikely that occasional exposure to music would cause any harm, overdoing it could certainly be a reason for concern. More research needs to be done to establish safe thresholds but until then, mothers would be wise to proceed with caution.
2 Not Enough Pounds
Another potential risk of excessive noise exposure is a reduction in birth weight. Although carrying an overly large baby has increased risks for the mother, a baby that is too small is at greater risk of health problems. A healthy weight is essential for optimal well being.
Although there have been only a few well-controlled randomized studies done to investigate the relationship between noise and birth weight, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that noise could be a factor.
Some studies done on women who were exposed to air traffic noise during pregnancy have revealed a correlation between birth weight and noise exposure. Reduced fetal weight has also been observed in some studies done on animals.
Some people argue that music is not the same as noise and that these studies were done on individuals who were exposed to noise excessively. While this is true, it is unknown how much sound is safe for a fetus. Furthermore, it is impossible to know how unborn babies feel about music and since noise is defined as unwanted sound, we can't predict when music becomes noise. While there is no reason for a pregnant woman to avoid music, sound, and noise altogether, exposing the baby to excessive music might not be a risk worth taking.
1 The Potential For Hearing Loss
It is often believed that music needs to be fairly loud and that it is necessary to place the source near the womb for an unborn baby to hear it. Between underdeveloped sensory organs and layers of tissue surrounding the baby, it's only natural to assume that very little noise is reaching the occupant of a womb. However, a sound is transmitted surprisingly well into the uterine environment. Although the hearing threshold doesn't fully mature until a couple of weeks after birth, the cochlea and peripheral sensory organs complete normal development by 24 weeks of gestation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that unborn babies exposed to loud noise are more likely to suffer hearing loss at birth. In studies involving children with a high-frequency hearing loss, it was found that they were more likely to have been born to women who were consistently exposed to occupational noise in the range of 85 to 95 dB during pregnancy. That's about the volume of city traffic or a kitchen appliance. If a woman chooses to expose her unborn baby to music, it is probably wise to do so in moderation and turn down the volume to avoid causing damage to the delicate structures of her baby's sensory system.