The power singing has over your baby’s behavior

Remember the last time you heard your baby cry? What did you do to comfort him? If you are like most parents, you probably tried feeding, rocking, burping, distracting, and “shushing” him, right? How long did it take for any of them to work?

Although these techniques might have worked, you have yet to try another very powerful and quite simple tool to calm your baby: singing!

A new study from the University of Montreal found that singing rhythmic children’s songs might be as effective to keep babies from crying as rocking or carrying them! In fact, babies remained calm twice as long when listening to a song (even if they didn’t previously know it), than when listening to speech (regardless if it was baby-talk or not). The findings are important because a lot of mothers speak much more often than they sing to their children, missing out on the emotional and regulatory properties of singing!

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New Mom: What I’d like my legacy to be

I recently found out that I’m going to be a mom this fall. Maybe it’s the hormones, or maybe it’s the big life changes headed my way, but I’ve definitely been more reflective lately.

One of the bigger concerns that I’ve been going over -and one I’m sure I share with many moms-to-be and new moms- is what I want to teach my children. More than just academics, I really want to pin down a set of tenets for living our lives that I can pass on to them. Hopefully, I’ve gathered some good tools from my psychology background and by working in early childhood. The list is not definitive by any means, but I’ll try to keep honing down what I really value and what I want my kids live and learn.

Here is my current set of ‘rules’ –with many changes, additions, and improvements to be made in the coming months (and after that, I’m sure).

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The first few years: touch and smell

This article discusses tactile and olfactory development, both sub-domains of the Physical developmental area!

While your baby seems to not do much, other than sleeping, eating, and, let’s face it, pooping; his brain is incredibly active, taking the world in through his senses and learning at a rate that will be unmatched the rest of his life.

Your baby’s senses are his main way of learning about the world around him. Of these, smell is the most advanced at birth –a baby actually begins to smell before being born! This allows your little one to detect your scent, which will quickly become his favorite. Even six days after being born, a baby will choose his mother’s breast pad over someone else’s. Also, babies will also prefer sweet to bitter smells right away, but they might also show a penchant for certain smells depending what his mom ate during pregnancy. So don’t be surprised if your baby shares your love for strawberries, bananas and, later, chocolate! What this means is that you can use your baby’s sense of smell to soothe him when nothing else seems to work. The smell of lavender or vanilla can calm him down, or your own scent because of its familiarity.

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The magnificent benefits of music!

“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

Recent research using fMRI and PET scan technology have found that listening to music lights up multiple areas of the brain as sound was processed, and all this happens in a matter of seconds. Further research has revealed that playing music takes the brain a step further, stimulating a full body workout for the brain. Now, teaching babies or toddlers to formally play instruments is not developmentally appropriate, but that doesn’t mean that they can not engage or benefit from music. On the contrary, listening to people sing, play with everyday objects or toys to create sounds, and sing and dance with caregivers are wonderful for your little one’s brain development.

During the first three years of your child’s life, neural connections form at their fastest rates. Exposure to music in early childhood fosters and helps develop many skills including speech development, audition, coordination, emotional development, and even social skills. Below are some of the ways of how music benefits this rapid development and growth, and a few activities to try at home. Continue reading

What we inherit before we are born

Gene expression makes us who we are and it varies depending on how we live. We interact and are in a constant conversation with our environment. Our feelings, how lonely or happy we feel: these feelings go deeper than our skin, they control our cells. So when do these cells start learning? When does learning begin? The nine months we spend in the womb are crucial. We learn about the world around us without being in it yet. These heritable changes in gene expression, that do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence, are otherwise known as Epigenetics.

What does a baby learn in the womb?

A baby can start hearing his mother’s voice at four months of gestation. The sounds of the outside world travel through the mother’s abdominal tissues and through the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. The fetus is constantly hearing his mother’s voice and once he is born, he quickly recognizes it. The baby prefers this voice over anyone else’s. Babies become so used to hearing their mother’s voice that it can even be said they are born crying in their mother’s native language. A study was conducted where they found that French babies were born crying on a rising note, while German babies ended on a falling note, much like the patterns of those languages. Babies are born imitating the melodic contours of their future language. This learning has a purpose: babies prefer their mother’s voice because that person will protect them and they cry like their mother to create a stronger bond with her. Not to mention, gaining a head start on language development. Continue reading