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Music and my baby at home fact sheet

Music and my baby at home

A resource for parents and carers

Music is a wonderful tool that you can use to connect and share with your baby, as we are inherently musical and generally respond positively to the sound of music.

Musical awareness begins at a very early stage. Unborn babies learn to recognise the sound of their parents’ voices and the pulse of life within their mother’s body (e.g. her heartbeat). Unborn babies also hear all the sounds of everyday life, including when their mother sings.

Hearing is usually developed at birth and a baby’s ability to discriminate different types of sounds is also highly developed as early as day one of life.

Music simultaneously stimulates most areas of our brain and therefore maximises a baby’s engagement and enjoyment, in a gentle and fun way.

We all enjoy music, so here are some suggestions for using music to maximise your baby’s enjoyment of your daily routine.

Limitations

It is important to note that while most babies enjoy music, some may be overwhelmed with the stimulation. Others may enjoy it at one time but not another. If your baby displays signs of over-stimulation (i.e. prolonged crying, pushing away with their arms/legs), try switching off or turning down the volume of the music. If you have any concerns or questions, contact the music therapy team.

When your baby is asleep

If it is possible and suits your family’s lifestyle, choose a CD of relaxing music and use it to help settle your baby at bedtime. We highly recommend playing the same music every time you put your baby to bed. If your baby enjoys some background sound/music while sleeping, leave the music playing softly in the background.

Ideas for music

Music that is gentle, slow, predictable, repetitive, with minimal change in melodic range and beat.

We also recommend music with minimal drum beats and minimal “talking”. The Wiggles, for example, may not be the most appropriate choice.

Positioning of music

Babies like to be encapsulated in sound, and the best way to do this is to place your stereo safely at the head of the cot. We recommend “speaking” voice volume. Watch your baby’s reaction to the sound level and adjust accordingly.

Suggested listening

  • Music for Dreaming
  • Cradle Songs by Karin Schaupp

When your baby is awake

  • Sing to, and with, your baby
    It doesn’t matter whether you think you are a good singer or not. Your baby loves your voice. Research indicates that babies respond more to music than reading stories. So, try singing and have fun doing so with your baby.
  • Gently move your baby to music
    If your baby tolerates movement, it is excellent to move their hands and feet to music. Songs such as “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” and “Twinkle twinkle little star” are great for moving with your little one.
  • Baby gentle touch/massage
    It is important to know that not every baby likes touch. You may start with body part songs like, “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and gently tap your baby’s body part. You may also like to try playing relaxing background music while gently massaging your baby. For more information on infant massage, contact your occupational therapist or music therapist.
  • Playing instruments with your baby
    Your baby may enjoy listening to, looking at and touching a range of different and colourful instruments. Instruments like bells and chimes that require minimal movement to activate the sound are a good place to start.

Suggested music

  • Nursery rhymes
  • Gentle classical music
  • Gentle music that you and your family enjoy

Contact us

Music Therapy
t: 07 3068 2370
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
e: LCCH_Music@health.qld.gov.au

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Useful websites

Australian Music Therapy Association

Boppin’ Babies

Music with Monica

Kids Music Beat

Baby massage on Raising Children

Resource No: FS025. Developed by Music Therapy. Updated: June 2015. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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