You may have heard about some parents-to-be playing music for their unborn baby, and might even have thought about trying it yourself.  Sarah and I have done some research and talked to some parents who’ve tried this. There seem to be mixed feelings on this topic…

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Does music affect fetal development?

There is some research that suggests that music has a positive effect on the mental abilities of children. However, there is no conclusive evidence that this is true for unborn children. Some scientists, though, have found that fetuses do respond to sound while in the womb. You’ve probably even heard that a baby will be able to recognize its mother’s voice and distinguish it from others’ voices. So, playing music for your unborn baby may not make him smarter, but there are still some very good reasons to do so.

Why should I play music for my baby?

Many parents have told us that infants will remember music they listened to while in the womb.  We know that once a baby is born, he will recognize his mother’s voice. Familiar sounds are very comforting to a newborn, so listening to familiar music can have the same effect.

Some parents who have tried playing music for their children before they were born have told us that the same songs that they played while mom was pregnant have a soothing effect after their child was born. They played the same tune over and over throughout the pregnancy and when they would play it after the birth, their child would fall asleep faster or calm down after being fussy.

How do I play music for my unborn baby?

We do several things to expose our son to music now, while he’s still in the womb.

Music around the house
The easiest thing to do is just play music while you’re at home. If you have a stereo or something which can play music somewhat loudly, you can play music to your baby.  Just play soothing music as you go about your business at home. It doesn’t need to be very loud, either. Sound actually travels very easily through to the baby, and if it’s at a safe decibel range for mom’s hearing without being too loud, then it’s safe for baby too.  (Think of being underwater in a pool, and someone playing music – that’s the effect that mom’s skin and amniotic fluid have on volume levels reaching your baby from outside mom’s body!).

Music in the Womb - RealSimpleMama

Special baby music device
One of the first baby related things I got Sarah is a special device called the Nuvo Ritmo. It’s basically a set of four speakers which fit around the belly, to which you can attach an iPod or other music player. The speakers play music directly into the womb from four different locations so your baby can hear the music clearly no matter how he’s positioned. Mom just plugs in her iPod or phone, hits play, and carries on with her daily activities.

Sarah actually made a pretty extensive playlist of songs just for our son. It’s great because we can be having a conversation or watching TV without being distracted by the music.

Bedtime music
Another great tip that Sarah found was to use a bedtime toy that plays music. You take a plush toy that plays soft music, press it against your belly, and play the tune a couple of times before bed every night. Once the baby is born, you can play the same tunes to help him relax, and he will recognize it. We found the Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse and have been using that at night before we go to bed.

Some of the parents who’ve used this particular toy have said that it works wonders. It has some very relaxing music and a soft glowing belly. It even puts me to sleep! (And they make a bunny, giraffe, etc too as well as a stereotypical boy and girl color scheme). Some of the reviews we’ve read have said that it even works great after the baby learns how to press it himself. One person said that they would hear their daughter wake up at night – they would then hear the music come on, and their daughter would go right back to sleep all on her own!

The bottom line

Will playing classical music for your unborn child make him a genius? Probably not. Is it possible that replaying the same music after he’s born can help relax him when it’s time for bed? Possibly. Will it hurt your baby to play some soothing music once in a while? Definitely not. And anything that helps mom relax during pregnancy is good for the baby. Try it out. If you feel like it helps, great! If you feel like it bothers your baby whenever you play a certain type of music, try something else. Just remember to do it in moderation and to keep the volume from getting too high.

Have you ever played music for your unborn baby? What tunes did you use?