I love Roald Dahl’s books, especially his autobiography. He paints his childhood in brilliant clear colours, and one of the descriptions that has always stayed with me was of his father’s insistence that his mother listen to calming, soothing classical music while pregnant.
Roald Dahl’s father maintained that playing music to a baby in utero would create a beautiful, kind, creative, intelligent child, so all his children received this treatment while in utero. The method certainly seems to have worked for Roald himself, but the experts can’t agree whether playing music to your baby in the womb is a good thing or not.
Can your unborn baby even hear the music?
There is good evidence that a fetus can hear well by the second trimester of pregnancy. Experts believe that unborn babies can hear their parents voices (mothers voice especially) as well as what is happening around them.
Recent research showed that babies whose mothers played a song (Twinkle, twinkle, little star) loudly to them five times a week in the last three months before birth could recall the song up to four months after birth. Recollection was measured by increased brain activity. The problem with this research is that it doesn’t show how the babies felt about the music. There’s just as much chance that the increased brain activity was a stress response as that it was a positive reaction.
Playing music to your baby in utero may increase the chance that your newborn will find the same music soothing, but currently there is just not the evidence to back this theory up.
Some experts warn that playing loud music close to a baby in the womb could do more harm than good. The researchers didn’t find any evidence that playing music in utero increased intelligence, either.
Don’t try to create a baby genius…
The consensus seems to be that playing music to try and increase your child’s IQ isn’t a good plan. Taking that attitude could set you up to be a stressed parent who puts too much pressure on their child to achieve. Instead, play music because you like it. Music is a wonderful mood enhancer if you’re feeling down. It can help you relax after a hard day, or go to sleep and rest your weary pregnant body.
Relax, listen to the music you love, and your baby with thrive…
What experts do agree on is that relatively quiet (65 decibels or below), gentle music can help you relax. If the mother is relaxed, this in turn relaxes the fetus.
At the end of the day, any activity that we’re doing with our babies, whether they’re in the womb or out of it, should be because we’re enjoying relaxing and being with them. Don’t worry about playing Mozart to your unborn child to stimulate its brain, just play the music you enjoy relaxing to, and your baby will get the benefit of those calming, soothing hormones.
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