Why You Should Be Singing to Your Child

From a soothing lullaby to a happy bop, singing with our little ones has more benefits than you may have thought. 

Early humans (and even neanderthals) began singing around 530,000 years ago. Since then, singing has been a major element of human life. Children have a natural urge to sing and, after looking into some of the benefits of singing, I can see why! So, whether you’re a trained vocalist or haven’t sung outside of the shower in the past decade, let’s look at just a few of the reasons you should take up singing with your little one.

01 - Singing is attention-grabbing.

Babies are born wanting to listen to certain rhythms and patterns of sounds. A love for music is hardwired into the human brain from before we’re even born! Additionally, while your little one’s ears are still developing, they find it easier to hear higher-pitched sounds and, usually, when we sing, most of us raise the pitch of our voice.

So, by singing, we not only sound nice to our little ones - they can actually hear us better, too!

02 - Singing helps babies learn language.

According to Sally Goddard Blythe (director of the Institute for Neurophysiological Psychology), “Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the 'signature' melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child's ear, voice and brain for language” (from The Genius of Natural Childhood).

On top of this, when you encourage your little one to sign with you, they practice using their lips and tongues to form words. This will help them to develop clear diction!

03 - Singing can aid the immune system.

This one sounds a bit strange, but it’s true! In 2004, scientists at the University of Frankfurt measured levels of Immunoglobulin A (a very important antibody for resisting infection) before and after an hour-long choir rehearsal. In most cases, it was higher after the rehearsal. So, it’s not just an apple a day that will keep the doctor away, but a song, too!

04 - Singing improves cardiorespiratory fitness.

 Singing is actually an aerobic activity! Getting your little one to sing with you can help them to gain greater breath control and strengthen their cardiorespiratory system, which is in charge of making sure the body and brain are getting enough oxygen.

05 - Singing improves memory.

Singing for - and with - your little one can help them to remember all kinds of things. After all, how many of us still sing the alphabet under our breath to remember which letter comes next?

Singing with your little one not only helps them to remember specific information; it also gives them more general practice at utilising their memory as they recall the tunes and lyrics you sing to them. So, singing to them now could help them remember other things later in life.

06 - Singing is relaxing.

When we sing, our bodies release dopamine - a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy - and reduce levels of cortisol - the ‘stress hormone’. Music also triggers our brain to create more alpha waves: these are normally produced when we’re relaxed and calm - such as whilst meditating or falling asleep - and have been linked to reductions in stress and anxiety.

And these effects are even more pronounced in babies. Singing can help to slow the heart rate of a scared baby. This study looking at the effect of music therapy on premature babies found that being sung to by a parent can help them to breathe and gain weight - amazing results for a few bars of ‘Hot Cross Buns!’

07 - Singing can teach emotion regulation.

We already know that singing to your little one can have an incredibly soothing effect, but songs can encourage the expression of a wealth of other emotions, too! Upbeat songs can increase arousal and expressions of joy, while others can encourage concentration. If you’ve ever been to a baby music class, you’ll have almost certainly seen this in action!

08 - Singing can help to foster a secure attachment.

Last but certainly not least, singing to- and with- your little one can aid in the creation of that all-important secure attachment. There are a number of reasons for this: firstly, as we mentioned above, we often sing songs that relate to how we are feeling - such as lullabies when we want to be calm, or happy songs when we’re joyful. By responding to your little one’s emotions with an emotive song, you are letting them know that you understand and empathise with them.

Furthermore, singing to a baby encourages mutual eye gaze - that is, looking into each other’s eyes. This undivided attention reminds your baby that they are important and loved by you.

So, it really doesn’t matter how well you think you can sing. Your little one will love and benefit from hearing your vocal stylings.

If you’re a little nervous about getting started, why not try introducing songs as part of your daily routine? Maybe you could have a song for getting dressed, washing your hands, or sitting down to dinner. It will definitely be worth the effort, and can even help your little one transition between activities.

I hope this adds a little more music to your life :)

Content Creator MEplace
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