Using Music with Kids: Even Newborn Babies Recognize Songs Played to Them in the Womb

What Is Your Favorite Lullaby?

In an article by Meeri Kim published by the Washington Post this weekend we learn of a study  that was published online in the journal PLOS One that babies in utero hear music and recognize it after birth. In the study, babies who had a lullaby played to them regularly while still in the womb recognized the song months after birth.

In her book, Super Baby: Boost Your Baby’s Potential from Conception to Year Dr. Sarah Brewer of Cambridge University notes that a baby’s ears “are fully formed around the 20th week of development, and a baby’s brain will begin to show electrical responses to sounds heard outside the womb before 24-weeks.” Additionally, researchers at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom discovered that babies will even breathe in time to music selections they enjoy—and “can remember and prefer music heard before birth over a year later.

Working with children full-time I am amazed by how children learn language and respond to music. By singing a lullaby to babies caregivers initiate the child’s introduction to language. Other studies suggest that infants start picking up elements of what will be their first language before they are even born and recognize their mother’s voice to a stranger’s voice, learn part of their native language, and are born crying in their native accent. In otherwords, they are hearing and learning before they are born.

Nannies should use music with the kids in my care to help them learn the alphabet, how to learn to spell their names, to follow directions and to structure their day. Caregivers should use music to encourage fitness.

In my interview with Dr. Harry Steckman of the Steckman Studio of Music in Oak Park, Illinois, nannies should use age-appropriate musical activities to aid in child development.

Steckman recommends as children learn to grasp, sit up, crawl, and walk caregivers should offer them musical materials to play with to encourage eye and hand coordination. For example, offer them rattles, maracas, or wooden spoons to hit pots.

He explains that young children love short songs. He recommends playing and singing songs like, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” He also suggests palm tickles, party games, Mother Goose rhymes, and songs with limited pitches that are directly tied to movement and action games to use with children from one- to four-year-olds. Songs such as the “Eency Weency Spider,” “Humpty Dumpty,” “Ring Around the Rosy,” and “London Bridge” are good songs to use with children of this age. Most six- to nine-year-olds like songs that involve counting, spelling, or remembering.
The more nannies engage themselves in active music making, the more likely a child will be motivated to practice. If children see their parents and caregivers involved in the music making process, they will usually want to do the same.

Fingerplays and Songs for the Very Young by Carolyn Croll is a cute book I picked up with the preschooler at the library this week that includes more than 25 of my favorite fingerplays and action songs guaranteed to get giggles and have babies and toddlers playing along.

Some of the fingerplays include:

1. This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to market, (Wiggle the child’s big toe)

This little piggy stayed home, (Wiggle their 2nd toe)

This little piggy had roast beef, (Wiggle their middle toe)

This little piggy had none, (Wiggle the toe next to the smallest toe)

And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home. (Start wiggling the smallest toe and on “wee wee wee” let go of the toe and run your fingers up and down the baby’s side. Bigger kids love being tickled during this fingerplay)

2. Ring Around the Rosie

Ring-a-round a rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down

Have the kids hold hands and dance in a circle. On the last line, let go of hands and collapse on the ground.

3. Where is Thumbkin?

Where is Thumbkin?
Where is Thumbkin?
(Hide thumbs behind your back)

Here I am!
(Bring right hand to front, with thumb up)

Here I am!
(Bring left hand to front, with thumb up)

How are you this morning?
Very well, I thank you.
(Wiggle thumbs as if they’re ‘talking’ to each other)

Run away
(Hide right hand behind back)

Run away.
(Hide left hand behind back)

4. If You’re Happy and You Know It!

If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands. (Clap, Clap)
If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands. (Clap, Clap)
If you’re happy and you know it
and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands. (Clap, Clap)

If you’re angry and you know it
Stomp your feet. (Stomp, Stomp)
If you’re angry and you know it
Stomp your feet. (Stomp, Stomp)
If you’re angry and you know it
and you really want to show it
If you’re angry and you know it
Stomp your feet. (Stomp, Stomp)

If you’re sad and you know it
Cry out loud. (Boo hoo)
If you’re sad and you know it
Cry out loud. (Boo hoo)
If you’re sad and you know it
and you really want to show it
If you’re sad and you know it
Cry out loud. (Boo hoo)

Make up new verses as you go along.

5. Six Little Ducks

Six little ducks
That I once knew
(Hold up six fingers to suggest six little ducks)

Fat ones, skinny ones,
Fair ones, too
(Use arm to mime “fat” and “skinny”)

But the one little duck
(Hold up one finger on “But the one little duck”)

With the feather on his back
(Place hand behind head to suggest a feather)

He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack
(Walk six fingers along with one leading)

Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
(Flap your arms like wings while quacking)

He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack

6. I’m a Little Teapot

I’m a little teapot,
Short and stout,
Here is my handle (One hand on hip to suggest a handle),
Here is my spout (Extend the other arm out with elbow and wrist bent)
When I get all steamed up,
Hear me shout,
Tip me over and pour me out! (Tip sideways in direction of extended arm like a spout)

7. Open, Shut Them

Open,
Shut them.
(Open and shut both hands in front of you)

Open,
Shut them.
(Open and shut both hands in front of you)

Give a little clap.
(Clap hands)

Open,
Shut them.

Open,
Shut them.

Place them in your lap.
(Place hand in your lap encouraging child to follow)

Creep them, creep them,
Right up to your chin.
(Walk your fingers up baby’s body to their chin)

Open wide your little mouth,
But do not let them in.
(Open your mouth really side and comically close your mouth with your hands over your mouth)

8. Pat-a-Cake
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man,
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.

Roll it and pat it and mark it with a B.
And put it in the oven for Baby and me!

(Clap hands with baby on first two lines. Roll, then pat, hand as if shaping a ball of dough. Draw a “B” in the air and tickle the baby’s tummy on the last line)

You can buy the books mentioned in the article by clicking the links above and below: 

 Fingerplays and Songs for the Very Young (Lap Library)

 

 

 

Super Baby: Boost Your Baby’s Potential from Conception to Year 1

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