Lets be honest, we all sing to our babies, whether we can carry a tune or not. Lullabies, anthem’s, love songs, and tunes we seem surprised that we remember. I fondly remember singing Sweet Child O Mine by Guns n Roses soft and sweet in my babies ear. I asked students in the studio if they remember certain tunes hummed or sang sweetly to them when they were young. I also asked parents what they would sing to their babies. I got some great answers on both sides of that fence. From parents, I received such answers as “I sang Lyle Lovett”, or “Anything by Bob Marley”. Students could recall songs from The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince, and other songs far from lullabies.
Have you ever wondered if your baby could respond, what would they say? Hey, I remember that song or my mom always sings the same thing!
Well, believe it or not, lots of research has gone into this very subject. Does your baby respond to music? Or more specifically, can your baby remember the tune being sung to them, and by whom?
Dr. Samuel Mehr (when asked what song he sang his child was Paul Simon’s American Tune), is a research associate in the Dept. of Psychology at Harvard where he directs the music lab. He has done extensive research into the effects of music on babies.
A study he conducted with five-month-old babies and parents who sing the same song to them for a week or two show that those babies can remember that melody eight months later. Even if the same tune and rhythm are presented by someone other than the parent, the baby can still recognize the melody.
In a different study, where he tested babies from seven to ten months old, studies showed that the infants will listen to recorded singing for up to nine minutes. That is twice as long as the infants would listen to recorded speech.
He has also shown that music used in repetition has proven to soothe babies. It has also shown that babies will relate to those same melodies and in turn, start to comfort and self-soothe.
One of Dr. Mehr’s theories is singing communicates to the infant that a familiar grown-up, like a parent or grandparent, is paying attention to them. So when the baby hears the familiar tune being presented by a familiar voice, brings comfort, especially to new babies.
Singing to children, as everyone in the world, in every culture seems to do, is one of the most meaningful activities we share with our little ones. So it doesn’t matter if you cannot carry a tune, or are a perfect tenor. Babies relate singing and music to familiar, loving, comfort, and someone is there for them.