When can my baby start music?
I often get asked by parents ‘when can my baby start music?’ Is there an age when my baby is too young?
The short answer to this is they are never too young to start music. Your baby is born ready for music.
The longer answer is – it is up to you as you know your baby better than anyone else, and you also need to be ready and comfortable to come along to a group.
Your baby is born ready to hear and process music
Most babies are born ready to hear and process music and to learn through it. They are biologically hard wired to engage and interact musically with you.
This is one of the things I love most when working with families. Prior to founding Boppin’ Babies, I set up the world’s largest music therapy early intervention parenting program to help parents engage and bond with their babies through music.
Fast forward eleven years, Kids Music Beat is now the home of Boppin’ Babies. The name might have changed, but helping to nurture the musical relationships within families remains the heart of our business. It is a joy to watch the parent-child bond grow through music each week.
Music begins at home
Zolton Kodaly, a composer and music teacher, advocated for music education to begin as young as possible. When asked how early music exposure should begin in childhood, he replied “Nine months before the birth of the child, moreover, nine months before the birth of the mother.”
I tend to agree. Music begins at home with you the parent, and then continues on a life long journey that we hope to support and nurture with you.
Baby likes mum’s voice best, particularly if she sings
Babies can hear the sounds of their world before they are born.
In fact they need to hear sounds, including music, their mother’s voice and meaningful environmental sounds for their auditory system to develop fully.
The sounds they like best are their mother’s voice, particularly if she sings. When they are born the first sound many bubs will focus on is your voice, the anchor in this new and overwhelming world.
When there is a good strong emotional bond between a parent or carer and child, they engage and interact in musical ways. This process is called communicative musicality. This is the beautiful cooing and vocal play you hear, and are inevitably drawn into, so you participate yourself by singing and speaking back in a higher pitched voice, slower tempo and engaging facial expressions.
We all do this and that is because our little people respond to this infant-directed way of speaking.
This is the biological role you play – often unconsciously – singing and speaking to your bubs in emotionally charged ways that help them learn about their culture, language, emotions and their environment. Many parents do this without even knowing.
A music group can support you and bub
So for these two reasons alone, babies can participate in music from a very young age, and both you and they will benefit.
This musical interaction can happen at home, and research shows the most effective way is through you singing and vocally interacting with your bub.
Don’t feel pressured to come along to a music group before you are ready for music. But if you do want to get out of the house, then a music group can support both of you and there is the added benefit of helping you meet like-minded parents in a community setting.
Live music making promotes your baby’s development
At Kids Music Beat you will also get loads of ideas and tips on how to use music in the home in ways that support natural early childhood development.
In addition to this, we do know from the research that early music exposure, and in particular participation in live music making, supports cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and lays the foundation for music early learning.
Babies need sensory stimulation for development, but they can be easily overwhelmed if too many types of sensory activities are done at the same time. That is why we use a multi-modal approach in our groups.
Our Boppin’ Babies groups are designed with co-regulatory activities and calming songs, interspersed with the excitement of drums, shakers, movement and other fun props that all promote development through musical play.
YOU are your child’s first and most important teacher
So if you are considering attending a music group with your very young baby, you can!
Some parents like to wait until their bubs have had their first immunisations at 8 weeks before joining a group, others like to come earlier. Check with your GP if you are concerned about immunisation.
Personally, I think your baby should start attending a music group when you are ready.