Your Voice: Music to Your Unborn Baby’s Ears

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Be careful what you say while pregnant, moms. Your baby is in there listening, soaking up the sounds of the environment she’ll enter when she’s born.

But, relax. What matters most for your developing baby’s ears are the normal sounds of everyday life. Sounds that she can pick up in the womb — from music to the sound of your voice talking or reading to her.

Is It True What They Say About Playing Classical Music?

Your baby develops the sense of hearing at about 16 weeks into your pregnancy. And studies have shown that by week 24, babies turn their heads in response to voices and noises.

But there is no clear evidence that your choice of music or reading material makes much, if any, difference in your baby’s development. That is, neither classical music nor classic literature has been proven to boost an unborn baby’s intelligence more than, say, pop music or a children’s book.

The good news, though, is that the sound of you talking, reading, or singing can help your baby become familiar with your voice and bond to you. Studies have found that the sound of her mother’s voice can raise a developing baby’s heart rate.

Your voice, more than others, transmits most clearly to the womb. That’s because your vocal chords resonate through your body — like an in-body speaker system.

What matters most for your developing baby’s ears are the normal sounds of everyday life.

How Much Can Baby Hear and Understand?

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In the womb, babies learn to recognize voices and particular words that are repeated during gestation.  

Other people’s voices don’t come through as clearly as yours, as the sound must travel through the air and through your body before reaching the uterus and your baby.

To get an idea of what this might be like for a baby in utero, ask someone to cover their mouth with their hand while carrying on a conversation with you. Their voice still comes through, but their words are muffled.   

During their time in the womb, babies pick up vocal rhythms and patterns. This innate skill enables them to tell the difference between languages at birth. Studies have shown that newborns are drawn to their mother’s native language, even in others’ voices.

Preparing Your Baby for Her Grand Entrance 

Babies can learn a great deal about the world around them by listening to their environment. Everything from voices, to music, to traffic can offer plenty of stimulation for your baby. 

However, this is a case where more does not necessarily translate into better. Think twice before cranking up the tunes, sitting close to a speaker, or placing headphones on your pregnant belly. This can overstimulate your baby’s tiny ears or interfere with her sleep cycle. 

Talking, reading, and playing music for your baby (with the speakers at a safe distance) can be a wonderful, loving way for you to bond and help her prepare for her grand entrance into the world.  

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