Maybe you have a reason to put an extra emphasis on development for your child (such as premature birth), or maybe you just want to get them started on the right foot. Either way, music can be helpful. Read about how music encourages brain development in young children. Here are some ideas of ways you can work with music at home to encourage healthy development.
The beginnings of communication
- Young babies
- Hearing develops very early and babies can hear their parent(s) and other family members in the womb. For that reason, those voices are the ones they love.
- Take advantage of this by sitting baby where they can see your face (especially your mouth) and sing to them. Singing to your baby will encourage bonding and help you get to know your little one even better, as well as start your baby on the road to communication and speech.
- Did you sing anything during pregnancy or listen to one particular album on repeat? Your baby may remember it and like it too (often, parents will find that their baby calms down when they play music that was a feature of the pregnancy).
- Another option: lullabies. Lullabies have been used for centuries because they are effective choices: they aren’t too fast, have a lovely rocking feel, and use repetitive words.
- Older babies and toddlers
- Continue to sing to your older baby or toddler, encouraging them to join in.
- If they don’t have many (or any) words yet, try some gibberish and see what happens (use the sounds that you hear them make).
- Choose songs that are fun! Songs that also incorporate games or movement (such as “If you’re happy and you know it”) can be great choices.
Physical developmentAlong with games which incorporate music (such as “If you’re happy and you know it”, as mentioned above), musical instruments can be a good way to encourage physical development. When you are choosing instruments, consider your child’s current developmental stage and what they will be capable of playing (a 7 month old is unlikely to have the dexterity to play a keyboard for instance). Also, ensure that you buy instruments that are safe for children, keeping an eye on your little one while they are playing them.
- About to crawl/ about to start to reach: try placing a drum or other instrument just beyond baby’s grasp.
- Gross and fine motor (older babies and toddlers): choose a mallet/ drumstick that will work for your child’s current grasp (pincer or palmar) and allow them to beat a drum. For safety’s sake, choose a drumstick with a soft end (you can buy these at music shops) and help to shield baby’s face from flailing arms/ sticks. Encourage baby to try both hands. Don’t forget to join in!