If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably read up on ways to improve your baby’s psychological development while he’s still in the womb. Many mothers choose to read to their baby every day so that he or she can become accustomed to the human voice as early as possible. Some mothers take specific supplements that are associated with fetal brain development to ensure intelligence. Playing music for your baby from outside your belly is a classic way to stimulate your baby’s brain early on, and research shows that babies do actually respond to the stimulus. In a recent study, the baby’s reaction to the music was observed, and there were many indications that the baby did in fact hear it. The ability to hear doesn’t develop until approximately 24 weeks into gestation, but introducing the stimuli after that could be beneficial.

Based on the observations in the study, babies reacted to the stimulus in a few ways. Some babies showed increased heart rates, which means that they processed the information. Other babies also moved around when they heard the music, showing a stimulus response. The most notable observation in the study was what happened when the babies were introduced to the same song again after they were born. When mothers played the same songs to their newborn babies, the babies stayed awake longer or moved around more, which suggests that they learned, processed and remembered the music on a deeper level. If you play music for your baby by putting speakers or headphones up to your belly, he or she will certainly hear it. Whether or not it makes them smarter or more psychologically sound was also observed in this study.

Newborn babies that were introduced to music while in the room scored higher on tests of habituation, orientation, range of state, motor performance, regulation of state and autonomic stability. If you play music for your baby while he or she is still in your belly, there is no guarantee that they’ll get higher SAT scores or go into biochemical engineering. However, by introducing your child to the stimulus as early as possible, you are essentially waking up its brain ahead of time, which can’t be a bad thing. Playing music for your baby in the womb at the end of your second trimester will be beneficial simply because it allows him or her to think about and process an externally-produced stimulus.

Source: Ravindra Arya et al: Maternal Music Exposure during Pregnancy Influences Neonatal Behaviour. International Journal of Pediatrics Volume 2012 November 2011

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