Click here to watch the video of Infant and Child Development Coordinator, Jenny Raspberry, talking about the importance of singing with Baby or read more below.
As you may have seen by now, Community Living Kincardine & District (CLKD) has a YouTube channel with video tips for parents and lots of fun videos of me, Infant and Child Development Coordinator Jenny, reading and singing songs for you to watch with your little one. Even though we can’t have our in-person music groups, I hope you’re still finding time to sing with your child at home! Singing is so wonderful for everybody, and is one of my favourite ways to encourage bonding with your baby and to encourage their brain growth.
All cultures on earth have music. They all have songs, rhythm and some kind of instrument(s). Many cultures sing together regularly but we, in the West, seem to be getting away from that a little bit. I encourage you to change that as singing together is a universal way of connecting.
Knowing how universal music is, i invite you to imagine its role and the impact it has on developing the brain. As soon as a baby is born, they recognize and react to familiar voices - especially singing voices. Baby loves your voice, even if you are self-conscious about it! Hearing your voice sing is more enriching for them than hearing someone else’s voice on a CD or YouTube video, so I encourage you to sing, sing, sing!
Take it from me, I am often off-key and make mistakes, even on the videos I have recorded for you, but the kids do not mind at all. Most of the time, they don’t even notice and if you stop worrying about how you sound, singing can actually be lots of fun!
You may have noticed we sing a lot of old classic kid songs, like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and such. This is intentional because the classic children’s songs are easy to learn and comforting, but there is also science behind the patterning, the tune and tone of these songs which make them really resonate with babies’ brains.
The repetition in these classic songs helps to build brain connections and helps reinforce and strengthen learning. Don’t be afraid to sing the same song over and over as well. Repetition is a key to learning.
With an older child, try singing the beginning of the sentence and then pause, prompting your child to fill in the familiar end of the sentence. You can even change the words to something silly for them to correct; it’s great for their memory!
Even singing with newborns produces benefits for the brain from the exposure to the rhythm and language, and the patterns and rhyming. There is also the benefit of vocabulary building, since many songs have words that babies and children wouldn’t otherwise hear in their daily lives. Regular exposure to those patterns, rhythm, and rhyming has also been shown to help later with literacy, language skills and even numeracy (math) skills!
Building in any kind of face-to-face interaction to your routine is beneficial to your little one. Sitting with them, singing and smiling are all ways of bonding and strengthening your bond.
When babies are upset, singing with them can calm them. It’s instinct for caregivers to sing and it affects baby’s brain waves, helps with self-regulation, and builds trust and bonding.
Additionally, research shows that music grows their brains in a way that nothing else does. We have all heard that reading to baby is important, but singing with baby is equally important; nothing will duplicate the positive benefits that singing with baby provides.
So don’t be self-conscious about your singing voice (or lack thereof) and sing throughout the day if you can manage it. Take the opportunity to sing while busy with other tasks such as getting your child in an out of the car, cleaning them, dressing them and so on. No guilt allowed if you don’t fit it in, but try to have fun and enjoy it. For now, baby thinks you’re fun and have a wonderful voice and we can’t promise that will last forever. Rest assured that when you sing, no matter how bad you think you sound, you’re giving baby a very special gift.