Why Do Babies Like Music? The Musings of a Mommy and Me Music Class Teacher

By Emily Angell – Musician, Audio Engineer & Event Coordinator at The Digital Arts Experience
 
BABY MUSIC

All babies like music.

At least the ones that come to baby music class every week in Riverdale. (KidsRockU… Hey Music for Aardvarks!)

So, okay, perhaps the gross overarching statement “all babies like music” isn’t 100% accurate (every once in a while you’ll find a baby with a different issue, or perhaps hasn’t had enough sleep or applesauce that morning) but from an observational standpoint as a teacher of said baby music class, I can attest to the power that music has over our little ones.  And it’s a beautiful thing.

We all know that music promotes language development, happiness and structure.  But… WHY do babies like music?  Since we’re living in the digital age, I figured I’d Google it.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, babies are literally programmed to move to a beat.  The researched suggested that the more babies were able to synchronize their movements to the music, the more they smiled.  Heather Turgeon of the blog “Babble” where I found the link to this information, also suggested:

“Babies may also get a dance buzz because it stimulates their “vestibular sense”: the body’s system for balance and movement (involving the inner ear and lower brain regions). It’s our oldest sensory system, in the evolutionary sense, and it’s one of the few senses that are highly developed at birth. As parents know from the early months of baby rocking, activating the vestibular sense is calming, and many think it has ties to attention and learning as well. “

If you have a baby, you certainly know this information all too well.  And if you see babies on a regular basis like I do, you watch it firsthand.

In my Google sleuth, I also came across some lesser-known findings as well. Apparently, premature babies exposed to a certain amount of music per day tend to gain weight and leave the hospital sooner than other preemies, according to an article reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board.  Pretty cool!

A common factoid is that babies who are exposed to or learn to play music at a young age end up smarter.  In my surf of the world wide web, I found this to be quite a heated debate that ultimately proved the theory false.  In an article written by Heather Moors Johnson, a writer for American Baby Magazine, the “Mozart Effect” is heavily questioned.  According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,  10 minutes of Mozart equaled an improvement in the spatial reasoning skills of college students for a subsequent 15 minutes.  Translation: College kids were better at puzzles for a quarter of an hour.  Babies did not turn into Einstein.

I’m being glib but you get the point.  In my search as to why my little guys get such pleasure out of rocking out along to the music we make every week, I’ve concluded that while perhaps my class may not turn them into the next Bill Gates, they get a serious body buzz from grooving along; a buzz that promotes health and well-being. My suspicion is that the biological and social reasoning behind the studies I came across are inextricably linked.  I tend to make sense of the studies that suggest a more Darwinian line of thinking: the babies that derived the most satisfaction out of something musical were able to survive to adulthood and procreate.  Translation: Music, like sleeping and eating healthy, is good for babies.

Do you have a story about music and your little one?  Or another theory to add to the mix? We’d love to hear it!

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