Mozart in the Crib? How Music Fosters Learning In The Infant Brain

music infant

Researchers also found that babies from the active-listening intervention showed more advanced early communication skills. They were able to point to objects that were out of their reach and wave goodbye. These babies were also the ones who were easier to soothe, and showed less distress in stressful situations when experiences were unfamiliar to them.

These findings fortify the notion that parent-infant interaction is crucial in facilitating learning within the developing brain and that music in particular can foster significant behavioral, social, and cognitive changes at an earlier age than was thought to be possible.

So why is it that companies like Baby Einstein still sell millions of “educational” songs and videos that do not foster any type of parent-infant interaction but still market their products as beneficial to infant development? A company statement on the Baby Einstein website states that: “We believe babies learn best when interacting with a loving parent or caregiver. We strive to create products that encourage and support such dynamic interaction.”

Fan mail from parents suggests that their products do the total opposite result than the company intended, however. One mother from Hayward, California, wrote that her baby’s eyes wouldn’t leave the TV screen. “I could go take a shower, drink my coffee in peace while getting ready for work. I was so thrilled with ‘Baby Mozart’ I went out and bought ‘Baby Bach’.” Many of these parents, besides simply using the tapes as electronic babysitters, believe that the tapes foster early language development.

A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that infants who watched the Baby Einstein videos did not learn the words highlighted in the videos when their parents were absent. As parents become busier, music media developed for babies is increasingly being used as a dangerous substitute for infant-parent interaction. It replaces activities like the singing of lullabies and play-songs — crucial to early brain development.

An infant’s brain has evolved to learn about the world through the emotional and social presence of a caregiver, especially their mother — they need a human presence to interact with, to secure those neural connections.

A study published in the journal Science found that infants exhibit a natural preference for hearing their own mother’s voice over that of another female. By singing to their infant a mother is able to foster strong social bonds that have a lasting effect on psychological development and familial well-being. A simple lullaby expressed through the use of rhythmic and temporally patterned vocal, body, and facial gestures can play a special role in conveying love, compassion, care, and communion between both mother and child.

6 Simple Ways Music Will Foster Learning In Your Baby

1. In order to efficiently increase intelligent learning in your baby, take the time to sing them a lullaby.

2. Be directive and use facial expressions, body movement, and clear sounds when you sing. This helps the baby learn to direct their attention and mimic sounds and facial expressions.

3. When your baby starts to mimic these sounds and faces, this is an indicator that they want to communicate with you. Take your time and respond to your baby as you would to a close friend. Be patient and talk to your baby within the silences.

4. If you are too busy or need some alone time, invite a family member or hire a babysitter to watch your baby. Keep the interaction going and don’t just place your baby in front of a musical education video.

5. See stressful moments during the day as an opportunity to sing to your baby. Lullabies have shown to decrease stress and anxiety in parents as well.

6. Throw out the flashcards, tapes, and synthesized Mozart sonatas, save your money, and have fun with your baby. Use play as a motivator to sing and cherish that special moment.

This article is updated from its initial publication in Brain World Magazine’s print edition.

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