Bonding with your baby through music – tips from inspirational mum and musician Aarika Lee
Zola Mae and Ari Jon, Aarika's children
Did you know that 90% of your child's brain development happens in the first five years1? Plenty of stimulation and the right nutrition play a big part in helping your baby thrive after the ages of 6-12 months old, but did you also know that music can help speed up brain development, and that your little one may find it easier to learn a new language and acquire reading skills later in life2?
Music has a powerful effect on us all and introducing your above-6-month old child to a musical environment can be a rewarding experience for both mum and baby. Read on to learn how you can tap into the power of sound as a sensory stimulus for learning and bonding, so go ahead and make some noise!
Music in the Air
Introducing music into your baby's world is as easy as child's play. Singer, Marketing Director at Elementary Co, and mum of two, Aarika Lee grew up in a household of musicians, she shares some of her experiences and tips with us:
"I was always surrounded by music and a lot of my favourite memories revolve around musical moments. My children are constantly exposed to music and we sing together often. We do have instruments at home but sometimes the children just love making sounds with everyday items. All little ones can do this, they can tap plastic cups, play drums on containers, listen to someone stomping their feet or clicking their fingers."
After 6 months of age, expose your little ones to all kinds of music; have a mix of genres, artists and real or play instruments around the house. Playing different types of music will help to stimulate their sense of sound. As you immerse your home in music, take note to select the songs appropriate to the activity - sing soothing music to get them ready for bed and play upbeat songs during playtime.
Making Music Count
If you find that they are singing certain songs over and over again, sing along! Repetition enables the use of words and aids memorization3. Try switching out a word in a familiar song for a silly word and watch them roar with laughter. Look for songs that come with some actions for your little one to do such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "I am a little teapot" or "The Wheels on the Bus". These songs can help build up their fine motor skills as they learn the accompanying actions.
"My children have learnt many of their words such as sun, moon, animal names etc. through song and nursery rhymes. When we've incorporated singing into normal everyday things such as climbing the stairs, we sing as we number each step. If you don't sing, you can always just play songs they love but sometimes you'll have to do this over and over! I think mums intuitively make different noises for their babies at playtime particularly if it gets a giggle and a big smile" says Aarika.
"Some babies really respond to music at sleep time too. My daughter loved her musical mobile, I could see her relax and listen whenever I turned it on."
"I know that music has shaped who I am and it continues to play an integral part in the special bonding moments I have with my children. There are so many ways mums can bring music, song and rhythm into playtime with babies. We keep playtime free and easy but it's amazing to see how engaged little ones become when music is involved," comments Aarika.
It's easy to fashion instruments for your babies above 6 months at home and use these as part of sensory play, such as filling a small empty water bottle with colourful buttons and beans to make a shaker, or by giving them a simple drum set comprising of wooden spoons and metal biscuit tins.
You can start building a music treasure box for your little one today and wake up their sense of sound. Take time to make up your own songs too, babies love repetition and familiar rhythm. Your baby won't mind how you sing, they'll thrive on the attention and focus they'll get from you, and this makes a perfect bonding moment!
Support your child's continuous learning moments
While music plays a key role in preparing a foundation for a range of skills and fostering cognitive development for your child4, nutrition and stimulation play important roles in fueling your child's continuous learning.
Believe it or not your brain is made up of fats – a lot of it! At a basic cell level, fats and fatty acids help build the brain, eyes and central nervous system of your developing baby. DHA and ARA are two specific types of long-chain fatty acids which are critical to this healthy development. DHA and ARA are important building blocks of brain and eye development.
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1Dekaban, A. S. and Sadowsky, D. (1978), Changes in brain weights during the span of human life: Relation of brain weights to body heights and body weights. Ann Neurol., 4: 345–356. doi:10.1002/ana.410040410