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Long before your baby learns to recognize speech, there is music. In fact, a recent study showed that infants as young as 10 months old are already beginning to develop short-term memory for music and melody. Babies in this study consistently turned toward familiar melodies, even when new instruments were added to the same melody.

This attraction to music only continues as your baby grows. By the time your baby passes their first birthday and heads into toddler-hood, music recognition, speech development, and learning are deeply embedded in their developing brains.

What does this mean for you? That it’s never too early to introduce your toddler or preschooler to melody and music—and never underestimate the power of repetition. As any musician knows, practice makes perfect.

Here are steps you can take to increase your toddler’s music intelligence:

  • Encourage experimentation with different rhythms, melodies, and sounds from an early age. Like language, music is learned through repetition, and the greater exposure your child gets, the more comfortable they will be with music. Don’t be afraid to sign the same songs over and over.
  • Create a musical environment! Expose your child to music—any type will do. Sing to him throughout the day, and especially at bedtime when a soothing bedtime ritual is a great way to ease the transition to sleep. In fact, studies have shown that music can make any type of transition easier, whether it’s bathing, eating, leaving the house, or dressing.
  • Let her experiment with making sounds on her own by banging on things, playing with toy instruments, or using any other device that creates noise.
  • Involve his body. Dancing is a great way to get physically involved with music.
  • Don’t push formal music training too early. Most experts agree that formal music lessons should be delayed until a child is at least school age and often later. Starting too early, when your toddler is still developing hand-strength and coordination, can be frustrating.
  • And have fun! Music is great for a developing brain, and it helps create deeper bonds, but it should also be fun.

Takeaways

  • Babies learn to recognize and remember melodies very early in development.
  • You can start to teach your baby to learn music within months of birth.
  • Repetition is the key to learning!
  • Making music fun helps them learn and bond with you.

Music Together is music and movement classes for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and the grownups who love them. You’ll learn lots of ways to interact musically with your baby, and as you sing, laugh, and learn together, you’ll bond with your child and other new parents. Watch your baby’s eyes light up during a free Music Together class near you.

References

  1. Gavin, ML. Introducing Toddlers to Music. org, accessed June 19, 2017.
  2. Kessen W, Levine J. The Imitation of Pitch in Infants. Infant Behavior and Development. Jan 1979, Vol 2.
  3. Ross-Sheehy S, Newman RS. Infant auditory short-term memory for non-linguistic sounds. J Exp Child Psychol. 2015 Apr;132:51-64.
  4. Plantinga J, Trainor LJ. Melody recognition by two-month-old infants. J Acoust Soc Am. 2009 Feb;125(2):EL58-62.

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