Music for Babies
Who Is Right?
Depending upon which research articles you read and what your own instincts tell you, there is almost enough evidence on both sides of the issue to substantiate what you think. While this statement can be applied to almost anything these days, we're pointing it toward the idea of music for babies - whether inside or outside of the womb. The real argument isn't so much about whether babies can hear music in the womb - they can - and they begin hearing fully at 20 weeks gestation. The contention comes in when discussing fetal development and the impact of music on the baby's intellectual abilities.
The Nay Sayers...
According to Gordon Shaw, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine, "No one knows for sure if music affects fetal development. There are studies indicating that fetuses can hear and react to sound by moving. But no one really knows what those movements mean, since experts can't observe an unborn baby as easily as they could one who is out of the womb." He argues that the baby's movements may be related to discomfort rather than positive stimulation.
The concept of playing classical music for babies in the womb to increase their intelligence has been a regular point of discussion in recent years. Janet DiPietro, a developmental psychologist who studies fetal development at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, backs Shaw up with the statement that, "There are no studies on the effects of stimulation before birth on intelligence, creativity, or later development." To the idea that newborns can recognize music their parents played for them when they were in the womb and even perk up or fall asleep when they hear a familiar piece of music, DiPietro says these conclusions are purely anecdotal and aren't based on true research.
...And The Yea Sayers
On the other side of the argument, there are specialists who are maintaining recent direct studies have been done that show once babies are born they have the innate ability to recognize their mothers' voices and may respond to familiar music that was played during the time they were in the womb. Studies by leading early childhood researchers, Thomas R. Verny and Rene Van de Carr, have indicated that babies who have been stimulated while in the womb show advanced visual, auditory, language and motor skills development. They sleep better, are more alert to their surroundings and are far more content than babies who have not had prenatal stimulation.
Further, a study conducted by Dr. Alexandra Lamont from the Music Research Group at the University of Leicester's School of Psychology revealed how one-year-old babies recognize music they were exposed to up to three months before birth. The study is fascinating and clearly proves that babies remember and respond to music that was familiar to them while in utero - even though they did not hear it again for a full year after they were exposed to it while in the womb. The bottom line is that memory in infants lasts a lot longer than originally thought and that a baby's long term memory goes all the way back to the womb.
What Does Mom Have to Say?
From the point of view of a pregnant woman or mother of a newborn, music for babies is a wonderful thing. Music and relaxation go together. Music reduces stress. We all know that if we play soothing music, our own heart rate lowers and we begin to relax. Conversely, upbeat music can invigorate us. You can obtain soothing and unique baby music that combines gentle womb sounds, heartbeats of both mother and baby, and special compositions created to evoke peaceful and calm ambience for babies and parents. These beautiful and soothing sounds are available through the art of Simon Cooper's music and vocals by Jean Erasmus. Their music has a calming effect that becomes a focus for relaxation, helping to settle stress related sleeping problems.
Baby Einstein - Classical Music for Infants
The creator of Baby Einstein took the music and baby concept and created one of the top educational toys today. Baby Einstein uses classical music geared to babies and the results are stunning. Babies love the CDs which feature classical composers like Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. The use of classical music for babies has a doubled edged effect. It can be very soothing and quieting, and it can also generate energy for children's play.
The fact is that music does affect us in a number of ways. And, if it affects us as adults, why wouldn't it affect a baby in the womb who is able to hear it? The real key in using music with babies is to remember that louder is not better. The baby can hear the music quite well without blaring. The recommended volume is a maximum of 70 decibels for a period not exceeding an hour so as not to over stimulate the baby.