Let the Music Play

By Aseel Salhab, Infant and Child Sleep Consultant

Did you know that exposing your child to music and at an early age affects your child’s brain development? No only this, but music affects your baby’s linguistic and reading skills.

It also affects the development of motor, social and emotional skills. Music helps in sound and alphabet recognition and hence pronunciation.

Did you also know that dancing to music helps develop motor skills and muscles by moving different parts of the body without extra effort- while having fun?

Music appreciation
To instill music appreciation in your child, encourage music lessons and watching or listening to musicals. This will ease the daily tantrums you may face and even lessen after-school stress. Here are some more ways to raise a child with a musical ear:
Infants like to listen and watch. They recognise the melody of a song before the words, as they can’t speak. Simple and short songs may be introduced at the time of bathing, eating or during a drive
Toddlers like to move and dance. We can invest in this by encouraging them to dance to the rhythm of the music they like. At this stage, they like repetitive songs with a simple melody which encourages them to dance and have fun
School-age children start to express their likes and dislikes of songs. Have your child choose whatever song or instrument; try to engage in an activity your child likes along with friends

Music and colicky babies
One of the biggest soothers for colicky babies is music. It puts them at ease as they tend to cry a lot from discomfort caused by gas. Babies tend to calm down when soft music is introduced to their bath time.

This is because music can help breathing become deeper and slower, allowing your baby to relax and rest. Your baby’s heart rate will also be positively affected. Listening to certain types of classical music can uplift your baby’s mood. Listening to such music helps the body to secrete endorphins, which are natural relaxants that are released in the brain. They improve mood, relax the body and even reduce pain

Music activities for ages 0 -12 months
Sing and sway: Sing your favourite song while holding your baby and sway to the music
1. Musical mobile: Hang a mobile high enough so that your child cannot reach or grab it. Play educational music that your child may learn from, like the alphabet song. Remove it by 5 months, or once your baby is able to grab it
2. Musical toys: Simple instruments like shakes allow babies to learn about cause and effect. Musical toys provide visual stimulation and offer fine motor skill practice, like a brightly coloured toy that plays a sound when squeezed or pushed

Music fun for ages 12 -24 months
1. Instruments: Let them engage in a lot of instruments and let them decide which one they enjoy the most. This might be a microphone, piano or simple guitar
2. Sing interactive songs: Try songs that have/include hand movements, like “The Wheels on the Bus” as well as the ones that encourage your toddler to move his or her body like the Hokey Pokey song
3. Freeze dance: Play music and encourage your toddler to dance, then freeze when you stop the music. It’s fun and silly, it helps your little one learn about self-regulation
4. Have dedicated activity songs: Sing or play a specific song when it’s time to do things like putting away toys, brushing teeth or getting ready for bed. Your toddler will quickly come to associate music with the activity and maybe be a little more eager to participate

Music activities for 24 – 36 months
At this age, toddlers engage more as they tend to speak and their language has improved.
1. Play what you feel. Provide your toddler with instruments and play music that matches
different feelings. Ask them to play a happy or excited tune, followed by a sad one, for instance, so they can learn the difference between happy and sad songs
2. Dance match. Play songs with different tempos and have your toddler try to match the moves to the beat
3. Complete the lyrics. Sing a song with your toddler, but stop halfway through a line and encourage your toddler to finish it by singing the missing part. Kids like suspense!
4. Name that tune. Whistle or hum a familiar song instead of singing it and encourage your toddler to guess what it is
5. Scarf dance. Put a small scarf or tissue on top of your child’s head, crank up the tunes and start dancing. Ask your toddler to do any dance moves as this will stimulate creativity

You can contact Aseel Salhab at aseel.babymoon@gmail.com