The where, when and how of music for babies
It’s easy enough to put on a CD, but one of the best ways to expose your baby to music is to interact with her while she's hearing the notes. “Sing with your child, introduce musical instruments whenever possible and play together with musical toys,” says Josh Rutt, founder and CEO of Baby Blanket Music, which produces lullaby arrangements of songs by artists like The Beatles, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and more.
One of the best places to enjoy music together is while your child is enduring the car seat and your hands are tied in the driver’s seat. “Music can calm, soothe and turn a passive activity into a musical adventure,” says Rutt. “There’s no reason not to play music in the car unless your child prefers quiet time.”
Some baby music rules
Musical clues in utero
Did you endure a kickfest when your baby heard jazz as you watched Boardwalk Empire? Did you get punched by little fists when you cranked some Sheila E. in the car driving to your OB/GYN appointments?
Many moms-to-be noticed that their baby would get particularly animated when hearing certain sounds in utero. Take cues from those moments; see if your child’s tastes mimic what they liked when they were hearing “underwater.” Turn on some Miles Davis or Esperanza Spalding, or introduce baby to Daddy’s drum set.
You may feel like nursery rhymes and Disney tunes are required listening for babies, but that’s not the case. “Play what your child likes,” Rutt recommends. “Many children do enjoy nursery rhymes and children's songs. Make time to let them listen even if they're not exactly your cup of tea.”
Classical music is often one of the highest recommendations for babies, particularly in the womb, because the music is full of rich melodies, harmonies and instrumental textures. “The quality and complexity of music in this genre make for wonderful listening and learning experiences,” says Rutt.
“Exposing your child to all types and genres of music is definitely enriching. The exploration of music should be a fun and relaxed experience. Let your child form his or her own tastes. Your child will let you know what he or she likes,” says Rutt. “Be careful not to turn up the volume too much. Little ears are more sensitive than our adult ears. You should also do your best to avoid songs that include inappropriate lyrics.”
Parents who rock
Groups like alt rockers They Might Be Giants make “adult” music and “children’s” music. But any way you look at it, musical parents make for musical babies. Here are some families’ playlists:
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