You’re touching your belly around the clock, your partner is cooing in your baby’s general direction, and family members (and, let’s be honest, perfect strangers) are asking to feel your little one kick. But have you tried playing your babe music?
Exposing an unborn baby to a variety of sounds isn’t exactly a new idea (see: this product, which allows you to place headphones directly on your bump for Baby’s listening pleasure) — but it there any benefit to it? We caught up with ob-gyn Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, director of perinatal services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in NYC, to find out more. (Spoiler alert: research isn’t totally conclusive, but there are some pretty compelling reasons to play a tune or two for your babe.)
Music may help your baby sleep better
Playing music for your little during pregnancy may actually have benefits for you both later on: “Babies who listened to music while in utero are able to calm, and fall asleep quicker when listening to the same music heard in utero,” says Dr. Gaither. Better sleep? Sounds like music to our ears.
Songs may boost your baby’s language skills
Some research indicates that playing tunes for your bump can boost baby’s cognitive development, says Dr. Gaither. (You may want to skip the techno beats and play baby tunes with words—exposing their little ears to the sounds of language may enhance their linguistic skills.)
Ditto for your baby’s motor skills
Feel like your baby kicks up a storm when you jam out to your favorite song? It’s not in your head. Babies who listen to music in utero tend to be more active in the womb, says Dr. Gaither. And the benefits carry over after birth: “Postnatally these infants have better motor skills than those that weren’t exposed,” she says. So let’s hear it for those baby dance parties!
There’s a caveat
While more research is needed to nail down the exact benefits of playing tunes for your bump, we do know that volume matters. You don’t want to blast your music too loudly, says Dr. Gaither, because all that amniotic fluid around baby conducts sound. (Music with a sound of approximately 50 decibels or less is best.) “Women who are chronically exposed to sounds greater than 100-115 decibels were found to be at risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, increased congenital anomalies, [among other issues],” says Dr. Gaither.
If you want to introduce your baby to music…
Start when you’re around 24 weeks pregnant, which is when your babe can finally start to hear. Chances are, they’ll like it. “Music that is soothing to mom is soothing to Baby as well,” says Dr. Gaither.
Pregnant with a future music lover? Shop our limited-edition ‘Rock My World’ print (seen here) before it’s gone.