When Baby first arrives, they are of course immobile, unable to see clearly or in colour and can only communicate through crying. As they start to make sense of the world their ability to experience life is largely passive… the taste of milk, the feel of the cot blanket, hazy shapes that come close to their face, smells, and, of course, sounds… constant, immersive and fascinating sounds.
Baby’s hearing is a superpower. It starts to develop as early as 16 weeks’ gestation, and even though the auditory system continues to develop after birth, hearing is already playing a role in Baby’s development in utero. As early as 1980, researchers demonstrated babies prefer their mother’s voice shortly after birth to a stranger’s. Incredibly, a follow-up experiment showed that the newborns of mothers who repetitively read The Cat in the Hat to their unborn foetuses in the last seven weeks of their pregnancy showed a consistent preference for their mother reading that book over a different children’s book…
Familiar noises bring continuity, comfort, and reassurance while Baby is starting to make sense of their new surroundings. It is something we understood long before science proved it. Nursery rhymes can be traced back more than five hundred years and lullabies 4,000 years (to ancient Babylon in case you were interested). We often talk to newborns in baby voices as we instinctively understand that they respond better to high-pitched and exaggerated sounds.
As Baby becomes stronger and more aware, not only does the reassurance of certain noises continue but sound also acts as a trigger to direct their attention. A noise means activity (which is generally interesting) and so as soon as Baby can move their head, noises will direct where they look.
It is with all this in mind, and much more besides, that over the last two years, we have been developing Beautiful Noise, a five-part programme for parents with their newborns up to around three months old. The interactive programme uses music, songs and activities in ways designed to deepen bonding between parents and their newborns, encourage Baby’s muscle development, improve visual tracking, and help teach spatial awareness, language development and so on.
While some of the songs and activities in the programme will be new to parents, they may already know and be doing others. Irrespective, Beautiful Noise increases the confidence that you are doing the right things for your baby by explaining a little of the science around the development of Baby’s hearing, brain and body while teaching repeatable ideas for how you can use music, noise, and play to help with their emotional and physical development.
Beautiful Noise is currently being rolled out by Monkey Music teachers and business owners across the UK. For more information about what it involves, classes and availability or to book Beautiful Noise, please visit www.monkeymusic.co.uk/beautiful-noise.