How singing helps you and your baby
The sound of your voice has the power to soothe and calm your baby right from the start. She will recognise it from the conversations she overheard and the songs you sang to her when she was in your womb.
When she’s a newborn, the sound is reassuringly familiar and will help settle her now she’s out in the big wide world. And as she grows, she’ll associate your singing with calm and sleep time.
Babies love singing because it mimics their own sounds. Have you ever noticed how melodic your baby’s babbling is? So it doesn’t really matter what you sing, or how tone deaf your tune, even the shopping list sounds great to your little one’s adoring ears!
What should you sing to your baby?
Many mums like to begin with a lullaby because they’re familiar. Why not ask your mum if she remembers what she sang to you? And don’t be put off if they sound a bit old fashioned. Some experts think that the simplicity of the words and rhythms in traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes are perfectly designed to prepare your baby’s brain for language and communicating.
To get you started we’ve found the lyrics to all your favourite lullabies and you can listen to tunes here to remind yourself how they’re meant to go. MFM even has downloadable PDF songsheets to keep in the nursery. So get singing!
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Do children grow out of lullabies?
Experts have warned us this year that many children are not ready for school by the age of 5, so it’s reassuring to know that something as simple as nursery rhymes and lullabies could make a big difference to their learning. Don’t stop singing once your baby’s started sleeping through the night, your toddler, pre-schooler or school child will still enjoy joining you for a sing-song.
“Singing nursery rhymes with young children will get them off to a flying start,” said former children’s minister Beverley Hughes, who thinks nursery rhymes make a big difference to children’s development.
What if you don’t know any lullabies?
It doesn’t have to be a lullaby. If you really don’t know or like traditional songs, try something you do enjoy. Pop and rock songs, no matter how seemingly inappropriate to get a baby to sleep, can sound soothing if you sing them gently. Your baby’s really only listening to the tone of your voice and the ups and downs of the melody, not the lyrics. Don’t worry if you’re no popstar, whatever notes you hit will sound beautiful to your little one!
“Children’s response to live music is different from recorded music,” adds Sally Goddard Blythe, a consultant in neuro-developmental education, whose book The Genius of Natural Childhood encourages parents to sing to their children from day one. “Babies are particularly responsive when the music comes directly from the parent,” she explains.
Sally also believes that too much emphasis is put on reading, writing and numeracy in the early years, and not enough on the benefits of singing.