Singing a lullaby or nursery rhyme to a baby comes naturally to many parents, but is there more to it than simply soothing or entertaining your baby?
According to Sally Goddard Blythe, a consultant in neuro-developmental education and director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, singing helps with the development of language.
“Song is a special type of speech,” says Blythe. “Lullabies, songs, and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice, and brain for language.”
U.K. education expert Beverley Hughes says singing even helps with math. Research shows how music and rhyme increase a child’s ability in spatial reasoning, which can help a child’s abilities in math and science.
“Singing nursery rhymes with young children will get them off to a flying start,” she says.
If singing is new to you, rest assured there is help. The top tip is to forget about the quality of your voice; open your heart and sing as though you’re alone in the shower.
Whether you’re a parent, family member or caregiver, you can enhance the experience by making eye contact, smiling and nodding. These signals help make your baby focus on you and feel more connected as you sing.
Patting their back, hugging and rocking will also help them relax and will increase the bond between you.
But singing does more than assist with child development; it also helps reduce stress levels for parents. It changes the brain by moving musical vibrations through you, which alters both your physical and emotional bodies. Think of it as a dose of the perfect tranquilizer; it soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit at the same time. And it has no negative side effects!
Next time you’re looking for an opportunity to give and receive love from a sweet, heartfelt experience, hug your baby and sing to your heart’s delight. Savor the moment when your baby smiles and their eyes light up. It’s good for them and for you.