Babies love music. Just as the right music can lift our sagging adult spirits or calm our souls, so too does it have either a relaxing or invigorating effect on baby. Research also shows that music has a positive effect on baby's brain development.
A recent study suggests that children who receive music education even have an advantage when it comes to learning to read. Overall, musical training appears to enhance children's cognitive abilities.
So make it a point to introduce your baby to the wonderful world of music: It's a fun way for both of you to pep up a dreary day or tranquilize a stressful situation.
Here are eight easy tips for sharing the joy of music with your baby:
Start by playing music during your baby's awake "playtime." Any peppy tunes will do: Dig out your '80s faves or stream some ABBA or Beatles hits into your speaker system. Sing along as you move your baby's arms and feet to the rhythm. Clap your hands or dance to the beat yourself. Your baby-and you-are sure to be entertained.
Remember that even if you're completely off-tune, your baby appreciates your singing voice above all others. Sing simple songs complemented with motions. Pat-a-cake, Where is Thumbkin?, Old McDonald, I'm a Little Teapot and the Itsy Bitsy Spider are always favorites.
Expose your baby to new languages and cultures by playing world music hits. The Putumayo collection, www.putumayo.com, is a good series to start with, featuring music compilations from all corners of the globe, from Brazilian Café to African Reggae.
Got a cranky baby on your hands? Stream some soothing tunes and cuddle her close with a soft blanket.
Spice up your typical bedtime routine by playing some classical hits-Bach, Beethoven or Mozart or simple soothing lullabies.
Visit kindermusik.com to find a local Kindermusik school and enroll baby in her first music class. Each session strives to connect parents and babies through music. "The early months of a child's life are an important time to form an emotional bond with their parent, and we foster that in class," says Jessica Rice Solares, co-owner of Bucktown Music in Chicago, which offers a range of parent-baby music classes.
"I've also found that my older music students who have completed the Kindermusik program have shown an increased ability for abstract musical concepts, have better rhythm and intonation, and better listening and attention skills in their lessons."
Time in the car as you drive your baby to and from day care or errands is a great time to turn on the radio for some relaxing music. Sing along and release your inner road rage.
As your baby's development progresses, offer some fun musical instruments for playtime. Visit musicaltoysplus.com for a funky selection of baby-sized instruments, including mini drums, shakers, guiros and even baby pianos, or visit the Lincoln Park or Lincoln Square locations of the Old Town School of Folk Music, where you can find everything from jingle bells to maracas.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
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