Okay, you’ve had your dose of organic almond milk, you’ve done some pregnancy yoga, and you’ve rubbed a good amount of cocoa butter on your sweet bump. So what’s next on our 21st century mom-to-be list? Play some baby Mozart, of course!
All of us want the best for our children – from the wild at heart party mom to the strict neighbor that doesn’t let anyone cross her neat garden. We all want our babies to be healthy, loved, successful, pretty, and of course, intelligent. That’s why some parents don’t mind listening to Mozart’s A Little Night Music for breakfast instead of watching the sports channel... secretly hoping that their little one will be the next Einstein or Vivaldi.
However, let’s see if there’s a difference between playing classical music and good old punk, for example, and shed more light on a debate that engages the thoughts of many future parents: Does the baby actually learn while being in the womb? While some researchers believe that babies learn while they are inside the womb, other scientists claim that there is no proof that learning occurs before birth and state that there’s no positive correlation between classical music and intelligence.
15 Where Am I?
The womb is like a playground, a playground full of noises and fluids. Burps, growling, gas, bowel movements, acid reflux. All of this is so much fun for our princes and princesses, though some already born lords and ladies wouldn’t agree.
At the same time, the womb is the perfect environment for the little ones because it helps them feel safe, warm and protected. It’s a great start for their first encounter with the outside world, which in addition adjusts to their size.
What's more, babies can actually hear noises from the world that’s waiting for them and react to different stimuli. So don’t be surprise if you suddenly feel a kick from your little one while you’re walking along a busy highway.
14 “Play that funky music,” Mom and Dad!
Some people believe in the concept behind "tabula rasa," the assumption that we all are born without any knowledge about the world, and that - just like a plain sheet - we can fill our lines with letters. They assume that the ink for these letters actually comes from experience.
On the other side, many researchers claim and prove that babies absorb knowledge while being still in the uterus. Doctors also show that babies hold memories of this period.
For instance, babies react to different sounds by moving. Some studies even show that after kids are born, they recognize sounds they were exposed to before birth, which helps them relax and fall asleep.
According to other studies, such as the one conducted by Prof. Fifer and colleagues at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, there’s an increase in the brain activity and also in the intensity with which babies suck a pacifier when they hear a familiar sound from their time in the womb.
13 Am I Raising a Genius?
Although babies recognize melodies, there’s no proof that playing classical music will make a child smarter or even a genius by increasing his or her intelligence. So don’t worry if you want to listen to your favorite punk band instead while pregnant.
The important aspect of pregnancy is to do things that help you relax because actually babies learn by association and any music that helps you calm down will be associated with this feeling of relaxation by the baby when he or she is born. So if something that you used to dance Pogo to helps you relax, go for it. In the future the baby will associate this music with positive emotions.
12 Classical Music
Of course, classical music is a wonderful and soothing way to introduce different styles and manners to the infant because as many would agree there’s far too much commercial music in our society.
Just be open to any kind of music. There's no doubt that in the future our babies will decide what they like for themselves.
11 Headphones, Speakers or Microphone?
While recent studies show that babies react to any kind of music, you might wonder if the ears of the baby are as big as Jumbo’s in order to hear. Don’t worry, there’s no need to put headphones directly on the belly. The body is a great amplifier itself and experts, such as Janet DiPietro, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, say that the amniotic fluid conducts sounds perfectly.
Also seek balance and don’t expose yourself and your little one to music for too long. Try to avoid loud places because loud noise for long periods of time sometimes leads to premature birth or hearing loss, statistics show.
Just enjoy the music you like and you'll see that the playground of the belly will nurture a happy child.
10 If You Can’t Sing... Just /talk
If you are bored of your favorite music channel and you’re upset that you can’t increase the baby’s IQ with some Bach, turn everything off, and just… read or talk to the baby.
The good news, mommies, is that your voice is the most significant one among all the cacophony that the baby hears. Studies reveal that after the seventh month of pregnancy, the mother’s voice has a calming effect and the fetus’s heart rate slows down. Babies also learn the specific rhythm of all the things they hear in the womb.
Babies learn by repetition as well. For example, if there’s an alarming noise too frequently, the baby might not be too surprised or scared after it's born as the little one will be familiar with it. So do avoid screaming or bad language, not only during pregnancy.
You don’t have to read Hemingway to the baby to make it smarter either, you can just talk to your little one in order to bond with the new member of the family. And this connection is much more important than any success on an IQ test.
9 My Polyglot
Not surprisingly, social studies reveal that babies react more, not only to their mother’s voice compared to other voices, but to their native language in comparison to foreign languages. Melissa Gurfein, a speech pathologist, says that babies can tell the difference between two languages even hours after they are born.
The womb is their foundation for their language development, which is so needed in everyday communication. So for all the bilingual children listening to both languages while being in the womb is a great chance to do better on any grammar test.
8 Talking to the Invisible One
However, if you don’t feel comfortable to talk, read or sing to your own belly, don’t worry. Your baby learns by experience, so any movement you make prepares your little one for the future world. That’s why birthed babies love rocking – that reminds them of the nice movements of their mother.
Here, daddies, you can get also involved – you can touch, rub and kiss your son or daughter. Now it’s your chance to be close to your creation, because when they are born and become teenagers, they’ll rarely let you near them.
If nothing else, this will make your mommy-to-be relaxed and contribute to your emotional relationship that might be challenged by her pregnancy. Massaging her shoulders is also good, not sure about the baby’s development, but I guarantee that it’s pleasurable for any mama.
7 Little Scientist
It’s not only sounds and movements that prepares babies for their life outside the uterus. They are like curious scientists that explore their environment. Kicking, pulling the umbilical cord, sucking, all this is great entertainment at their favorite playground.
And that fun is not only for comfort, but it’s crucial as that helps them learn about the world outside. For example, sucking is important for taking in food in infants after they are born. Babies are not passive while being in the womb, it’s just the opposite: they’re getting ready to meet the outside world and the person who’s kept them safe for months.
6 Hungry for Two
Talking about that important person, the mother, it’s wonderful to know that when it comes to learning she plays a beneficial role in many different ways. It’s not only singing or massaging to her belly. What we eat affects our babies too, because our taste buds develop soon after the seventh week. Ultrasounds show that sometimes babies lick the womb in order to explore all the tastes that surround them. In my case, my princess can enjoy tons of sugar.
Studies claim that a diverse diet while being pregnant helps infants try new food in the future. So, fathers, don’t be lazy and get those pickles that your loved ones crave.
5 Do I smell?
Babies can even smell food in the womb as all the aromas are carried by the amniotic fluid, which helps infants learn even more about the world. Among this culinary feast, babies can smell they moms as well, and actually that might be the way newborns recognize their mothers.
As a result of these findings, neonatal researchers want to change some procedures and the usual ways hospitals handle births. Instead of examine newborns, psychologists and researchers like Marshall Klaus, author of Your Amazing Newborn, claim that babies should be placed on their mother’s breasts straight after birth, which will improve their cognitive and emotional development.
4 The Light at the End of the Tunnel
As we see, there are so many senses that our babies develop while being in the womb, experiences that teach them how to survive in the outside world. Sight is not an exception. Even though the womb, that amazing playground, is so much fun, the truth is that it’s too dark and not too spectacular.
It’s curious to know that babies keep their eyes shut for too long, up to the seventh month. However, doctors report that fetuses react to light and also open and close their eyes, which is crucial for blinking and learning to focus after they are born.
3 Ready to Be a Teacher
To sum up, whatever you do, your little one actively explores their surroundings by touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and blinking.
You don’t have to put too much effort on yourself and play classical music or read novels to your little one. Simply because whatever you do, he or she learns constantly how to meet the world outside by listening, interacting and remembering.
Of course, by listening to nice music or reading your favorite books, you can only relax, which can create a positive connection between you and your baby. Treat yourself and be healthy at the same time, because your pure mind can only give birth to a pure body. Hmm, in our case: two or more bodies.
2 Choosing Between Mozart and Punk
In conclusion, Mozart, punk or pop, just listen to whatever makes you happy, smile and dance, and enjoy your pregnancy.
Some researchers worry that findings on how the fetuses interact and learn might make some women take things to the extremes by playing only classical music or recordings with language lessons to their babies. So don’t do this, don’t stress yourself, at least for the well-being of all the scientists that worry so much.
1 Balancing Parenthood
Even though we all want the best for our children, don’t put too many expectations on your baby, before and after birth. Not all of us can be Einstein, Beethoven, Gagarin or Kafka. Be mindful of where your child is at without pressuring them to be at a different intelligence level than they're either ready for or are able to get to on their own.
Some of us can be ‘only’ loving parents. So simply love! It shouldn't be that hard to marvel at your child's accomplishments and abilities. If you pressure your child to be something they're not, they may resent you for it down the road. Make them feel special for what they're good at, they will love you for that. In the end that's what matters most, love.