Turn Up the Music, Baby – “Hush, Little Baby” Song

It’s no secret that music is a universal language. Even babies, who don’t yet understand spoken language or physical gestures, respond to it. In fact, premature infants cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital demonstrate improved cardiac and respiratory function, as well as better eating and sleeping habits, when exposed to singing, humming, and soft guitar serenades. Their reactions are dramatic and not easily explained, at least not fully. So how can you harness the power of music to benefit your own little guy or gal?

You may not think you’re musically inclined, but the nice thing about babies is that they aren’t harsh critics. Start singing to your baby as soon as he’s born (or even during pregnancy, since we know babies can hear your voice in utero), and he’ll quickly become familiar and comfortable with your unique voice … and eventually, he’ll learn to use his!

When you’re playing, having a bath, or doing a diaper change, choose songs that are uptempo and spirited, whether they’re nursery rhymes or your favorite classic rock hits. (If you’re feeling self-conscious about singing a cappella, baby won’t mind if you turn on the radio and sing along!) You’ll find that upbeat, happy tunes will make your baby laugh and distract him if he gets grouchy on the changing table.

When it’s naptime or bedtime, make slower, more lyrical music a part of your winding-down routine. Think traditional lullabies, like “Hush, Little Baby” and Brahms’ lullaby, or anything you’d slow-dance to at a wedding. You can try dimming the lights, snuggling together in your rocking chair under a soft, cozy blanket, and singing some favorite sleepy-time songs. It’s relaxing and sweet for both the baby and you.

You may also find that music keeps baby calm on car trips. If your little one isn’t a huge fan of the car seat or gets cranky after just a few blocks, try some traveling tunes. If you’d like to serenade her from the front seat, soft rock and easy listening stations are great choices for your backing tracks. If singing in the car isn’t your forte, light classical music (think Bach and Mozart) is also a great choice.

Any time your baby is fussy, consider trying a song or two, and incorporate lots of eye contact and cuddling. She’ll begin to associate your singing with the comfort of your arms and your smiling face. Whether it’s your favorite pop hit or a traditional lullaby, your baby will associate music and singing with how much you love him!

Now it’s your turn: what are your favorite songs to sing to your baby? What makes him do that adorable belly laugh … or snuggle up for some sweet dreams? Is there a melody that’s guaranteed to make him smile when he’s cranky?

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