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The Informed Parent

Stimulate Your Infant Auditorily

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Jan. 03, 2005

Talking and crooning to an infant comes naturally to many new parents. Some, however, feel awkward or at a loss about how to visit with their baby.

Studies have shown that the ability to hear is the first sense to develop in the womb, and it is fully developed by the third trimester. Shortly after birth, a baby recognizes her mother and father’s voices as distinct from other voices. Infants who have heard a particular song regularly while in the womb appear to be comforted by that song after birth.

Engaging your baby through conversation and music helps with the bonding process necessary for healthy development. Babies recognize sounds before their sight is fully developed. Providing them with auditory stimulation from the moment of birth starts them on the process of relating to their physical environment. The ideas below are suggested as ways to positively introduce your baby to the world of sound outside the womb.

  1. Hold your baby close and sing a lullaby. You can make up words, and it is not necessary to have an excellent or trained voice. Your baby will love your singing because it is you. The combination of touching and cuddling with singing is particularly nurturing.
  2. Sing to your baby while changing the diapers. Nursery rhymes or songs you enjoyed as a child are preferred. If you don’t remember the words help can be found at the library or with new or used books. Used children’s books are inexpensive and very available. A nursery rhyme book is likely to become a favorite. If you don’t know the traditional tune to a song, make up your own. That becomes the melody for your baby.
  3. Make up songs for daily activities. For example, sing to the tune of “Three Blind Mice” using your baby’s name: “Tania’s eating. Tania’s eating. Yes, she is. Yes, she is. Tania’s eating carrots. Tania‘s eating carrots. Yes, she is. Yes, she is.” If you use these songs into toddler-hood and childhood, they are never forgotten.
  4. Repeat playful rhymes with your baby like “This Little Piggy Went to Market” and use the actions. Say silly little rhyming poems or those with repetition or alliteration. Before long, you will know what your baby’s favorites are.
  5. Talk to your baby about what’s happening around you. For example, as you are rocking her, talk about the day. “Oh, today is so sunshiny and pretty. The leaves are golden, and the sky is filled with puffy, white clouds.”
  6. On outings, talk about what you are doing. In the grocery store, even though you may only have a month old baby, say, “Now we’ll get the apples and the bananas. Now let’s get our milk.” When driving talk about where you are. “We’re going to Mommy’s office to pick up some papers. Now Mommy is parking the car, and we’re going to walk up the stairs.” While you may feel awkward conversing with your infant in this way, you are creating a nurturing relationship and setting the stage for enhanced communication. Soon your baby will be old enough to smile at your voice or look to where you are pointing as you talk about something.

Babies who are talked to may develop stronger verbal skills than those whose parents don’t use engaging conversation. They will babble to you about their world and try using words as soon as they are capable. They will show interest in their environment.

Parents who talk and sing to their infants take great pleasure in the interactions. They may find that the singing, crooning, and visiting soothe them just as often as it does the baby.

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