Top 3 Musical Tips for New Parents

Top 3 Musical Tips for New Parents

On Mother’s Day 10 years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter. I had no idea what was coming next…would I have an easy birth? Will my baby be OK? Will I be a good mother? It was an exciting (and a little bit scary!) time. I knew there would be lots of learning along the way, and I hoped that I would make more good decisions than bad ones. I figured I had a good base of knowledge already, since I had been teaching Kindermusik infant music classes for 2-3 years at that time. Recently, I was asked by a colleague what would be the top advice that I would give to new parents and it got me thinking…here are the top 3 things that I did with my daughter that I think had the biggest impact on bonding and my parenting journey, and her learning and development.

1. Choose ONE song for baby’s sleep routine.

Many new parents that we work with know that music can help relax and soothe a fussy baby, but the trick to incorporating music into your sleep routines is to use the SAME SONG every time.  Baby’s brain is programmed to find patterns, and by using the same song every time, your baby learns the routine and will start to understand that when I hear this song, it will be time for me to go to bed.  By the way, this has never backfired on me…the only time that my daughter cried with that song was when my husband would absentmindedly sing it when it was NOT bedtime lol!  We still sing it every night, it’s a really special bonding moment even at 9 years old.  Still pregnant?  Choose a song now and start singing it every day so your baby becomes familiar with it.  When they are born, you’ll be amazed that they immediately recognize and respond to that song.  I discovered this by accident because my daughter responded to a song from the Kindermusik unit that I happened to be teaching during my last trimester.  

2. Use Kindermusik activities to make Tummy Time fun! (or at least more tolerable…)

Your pediatrician has likely told you that tummy time is important for baby in order to help your child strengthen the muscles in their arms, chest, and neck–muscles needed for sitting, crawling, and walking. However, not all babies are a big fan of tummy time. In our Kindermusik classes, we teach parents to get down on the floor at eye level with baby and make it a bonding activity while you’re working on physical development. Play some music, sing a song to baby (don’t worry, they love your voice even if you are a terrible singer!), and use small toys or props such as a baby-safe shaker instrument or a non-breakable mirror to make tummy time more interesting and enjoyable for you both. This can be done in 5-10 minute spurts throughout the day, so don’t worry if your baby doesn’t put up with it for very long. Consistency and enjoyment is key here, if you and baby had fun on your tummies for 3 minutes, that’s great start

Get down on the floor, eye level with baby

3. Develop a love of books and reading early on.

You may be thinking “why should I read to my baby, they don’t understand anything yet!” Yes, that’s correct, BUT the idea of reading to baby is that they fall in love with books and learning by associating the positive memories of being in your arms and hearing your voice with books. Reading to baby also exposes them to new words that we may not use in everyday speech. Books designed for babies also usually have bold colors and clear lines, which help eyesight and visual tracking develop. Reading aloud lets baby hear the rhythm and cadence of speech, which shares a lot in common with the patterns of music.

Try this: instead of scrolling through your phone while feeding baby, try reading a book. It doesn’t have to be a baby book. Someone gifted us “Charlotte’s Web” and I read that aloud as I nursed my daughter. It could even be a grownup book or magazine (but maybe stay away from the news, that could spark stressful feelings in you.) You could even read work reports or the sports section! The idea is just to have baby hear you read aloud and hear the rhythm and syntax of spoken language.

“You don’t have to only read baby books. Read things you enjoy too!”

Kudos to all the new parents out there navigating this during a pandemic. Hopefully these tips are helpful and give you a starting point on things that you can do to boost your bond and nurture your child’s learning and development. As always, we’d love to see you in a Kindermusik class! We have in-person (Chicago) and virtual options (join from anywhere) and you don’t even have to leave your house or worry about packing up your kid and all their stuff! Totally OK to join class even if baby is asleep, you’ll learn tons of stuff that you can do when it works with your schedule.

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