An iPod for your infant

May 16, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Are you dreading years of baby music that is “appropriate” for infants and toddlers? Turns out, “appropriate” has a broad definition when it comes to music for babies – so if you’re a Lady Gaga fan, there’s hope!

Rocking ways to expose your baby to music

Are you dreading years of baby music that is “appropriate” for infants and toddlers? Turns out, “appropriate” has a broad definition when it comes to music for babies — so if you’re a Lady Gaga fan, there’s hope!

You don’t need to wait until your child’s a teen before introducing him to some classic rock or modern pop music.

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.”

Make over your kids’ play list with these classic tunes >>

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.

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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:

  • “Playlist requests for mine are LMFAO, Jason Mraz, Luke Bryan, Gina G., Rusted Root and Lynyrd Skynard. Ugh, and also Fisher Price tunes and Silly Sing Along songs,” says Lauren, mom of two.
  • “My daughter loves 'Friday I'm in Love' [by The Cure]. She calls it 'Monday, Tuesday,'” says Erika, mom of two. “She also likes everything with violin. She calls it the 'cricket's violin' because in her book the cricket plays the violin. I sing Hungarian folk songs and Soviet socialist songs. Those were part of my childhood and they come naturally, without thinking."
  • “When my oldest son was a very little baby, my husband would take him to the drum set and play for him when he got really cranky. He would immediately get quiet! Most of the time, he actually fell asleep,” says Sherri, mom of two.
  • "My son loved Eminem as a baby,” says Caitlyn. “My daughter will sing 'Pink' by Rocknoceros, 'Rock Star' by the Fresh Beat Band, 'Revolution 9' by John Lennon or 'A Thousand Years' by Christina Perri with equal enthusiasm and volume."
  • "Mine loved Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, a little Pink Floyd,” says Lee, dad of two.

More about music for babies

10 Ways music benefits children
Best iPhone music apps
How to create a musical life for your child