Many pregnant women wonder about the effect and safety of playing music directed right at your baby via headphones. While music is generally considered safe for the fetus, there are some rules about playing music through your belly aimed at protecting baby and preventing possible risk during development.

Volume and amniotic fluid

Some experts believe amniotic fluid amplifies music while others claim the amplification only happens with low tones like that bass line that drives a song. When putting headphones on your belly, it is best to keep the music at or below 70 decibels when possible. The volume at 70 decibels is about the same as that music you hear when shopping at a department store. Remember, the distance between your belly and the fetus is not very wide so the headphones are propped right up against your baby’s ears.

Good music selections for baby

The best type of music to play for baby is classical music because it tends to offer a range of notes and tends to repeat, creating an almost lullaby style sound in utero. However, any musical selection will work as long as the music is not harsh.

Bad music selections for baby

When choosing music for baby to listen to with headphones on your belly, it is best to choose music with a soothing harmony. Rap, heavy metal and some rock music tends to be discordant, loud and alarming. Music in these genres may startle baby and there are some animal studies that claim brain development is negatively altered when these types of music are played to the fetus.

The proven effect of music on development and intelligence

Many parents choose to play classical music to baby in utero because they think it will make baby smarter. There is no research supporting this theory, but researchers do agree that music is a good option during pregnancy, though not necessarily for baby. If a pregnant woman loves classical music, playing music may soothe her more than the fetus. When a pregnant woman is more relaxed, she tends to feel less stress and that has a positive effect on the fetus.

The final word on playing music for the fetus is up in the air, but researchers and doctors agree on a few important points:

— Never play music with headphones on your belly for more than one hour at a time.

—Keep the volume relatively low and choose music that is soothing rather than harsh and jarring. 

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