- Majors for Minors
- Category Advice Column, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby
Sleep is one of the most essential aspects of a baby’s development. It helps their bodies and minds develop, and the truth is that music can play a major role in both the development of your baby, as well as helping them achieve a more restful sleep.
Even though your baby’s brain is not yet fully developed, the reality is that they are actually not much different from adults when it comes to the basic structure and functionality of their brains. This also applies to the auditory cortex portion of their brain.
The auditory cortex forms part of the temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex. This is one of the first parts of the brain to develop, meaning that playing music to your unborn baby can already have benefits. In fact, some studies have shown that playing music for your baby in utero (while still in the womb) can help create a better foundation for their reaction and appreciation for music once they are born. In other words, playing music for your unborn baby can make it easier to eventually use music as a means of helping your child fall asleep.
It is important to note that not all music is suitable for helping your baby fall asleep. Music with high pitches or deep bass should be avoided. These types of sounds act more as a stimulant than a relaxant. This is why lullabies are a popular and good choice by most parents, as most of these are designed to instil a sense of comfort.
Another popular choice is classical music. As these contain no lyrics, it can be much less distracting. It also contains more soothing and gentle instrumental sounds, rather than heavy percussion as is found in other genres of music.
On top of helping your baby fall asleep, playing music during playtime and bedtime routines, as well as during sleep, can also help their overall brain development. Studies have shown that the correct music introduces your baby to emotional stimuli which will help to increase their emotional intelligence. As your child gets older and starts to interact and understand a more complex world, this gentle emotional stimulus will help your child to better understand herself, as well as recognise patterns. Pattern recognition is one of the fundamentals of child development, and a cornerstone of both critical thinking and problem solving.
There are a few important things to take note of when playing music for your baby to help them fall asleep. The first of these is volume. It is very important to not play the music too loud. Even if you have the correct music, turning up the volume on any kind of music will stimulate your baby and cause her brain to enter an active phase.
Secondly, placement of the music source. The further away the music is, one instinctively tend to make the music louder. Rather try placing the source closer to the crib (or right next to it), and turn the volume down.
Lastly, how long should you play the music for? Most psychologists and experts will suggest not playing music to your baby throughout the night. This can cause the music to become a crutch for your baby in that they will become dependant on the music to fall asleep.
What is suggested is to start playing music a few hours before bedtime, and then switch it off after your baby has fallen asleep (or as they are falling asleep). This is dependant on your baby, as some will never form the attachment while other might.
An example routine would be to start with Playtime and Bedtime with Bach a few hours before starting your bedtime routine. Put on some Symphony of Sleep during bath time to help your baby get into a calm state of mind ready for sleep, and then finally Classical Music Lullabies to help them drift off into a restful sleep.