benefitofmusicLet me say this: I can’t hold a tune, nor play an instrument. Fortunately young children don’t care and they love my out-of-tune singing and rattle shaking.

Your enthusiasm and the child’s opportunities to participate and engage with you are what count and can make any song into a big hit.

What’s so special about singing and music?

Singing and music bring out the young children’s talents and they can put on a real show and show off what they can already do. Singing and making music get infants and toddlers engaged – socially, mentally and physically. They provide a mind-body work out and have many benefits.

Summary of Benefits & Practical Tips

(A more detailed overview of the benefits including practical tips can be found on my website www.raisingatalker.com).

1.  They connect and foster bonding.

Tip: Often go face-to-face and make singing a duet, not a solo. Integrate the infant’s sounds into your song.

2.  They make infants and toddlers listen closely and build memories.

Tip: Vary how you sing once your child is very familiar with a song. This makes an old hit into something new and exciting and sharpens listening.If you’re self-conscious about singing, hum tunes to children’s songs or sing along with them. Include and contrast different musical instruments – does a wooden spoon on the pot sound different than a metallic one?You may start singing while pregnant and hearing the same lullaby over and over likely creates memories. Babies active listening starts in the third trimester.

3.  They make infants and toddlers vocalize and express themselves which gives them practice to talk.

Tip: Be enthusiastic and expressive in your voice and actions and exaggerate them. Articulate your words clearly, sing important words louder or drag them out. Show actions clearly and repeat them often, so the baby ‘gets’ them.

4.  They help infants and toddlers learn basics of their language and build understanding. Words become ‘special’ in songs as you link them to gestures, actions, touches, and repeat them even more than in plain talk.

Tip: Keep words and gestures simple and repeat them often. Babies need lots of repetition to learn and build memories.

5.  Nursery rhymes build an awareness of sounds that is necessary for developing strong reading skills later.

Tip: Sing popular nursery rhyme songs and make up your own rhyme songs. Rhyme, rhyme, rhyme.. Tickle, nickle, tickle, do you like another nickle or another tickle… Poop, poop, let’s scoop your poop, .. Anything goes.

6.  They foster thinking. Children learn about patterns and symbols which help build language, number and math concepts.

Tip: Have certain songs for your daily routines – bath time songs, bed time lullabies, songs for certain play activities such as London Bridge is falling down for building and knocking down towers. Your baby learns to associate events with songs and can anticipate what’s coming next. Emphasize number words by clapping or gently bouncing the child in your lap as in One (clap once), two (clap twice) buckle my shoe.

7.  They foster physical development and make young children aware of their bodies.

Tip: Move with your baby at first, march through the room, swirl around gently, rock her from side to side, guide actions and gestures along as you sing. Give her musical instruments to copy what you do. Later, let your child move and play instruments alone. Have her copy what you do and have her be the leader, too.

8.  They are mood managers and help to regulate the baby’s mood.

Tip: Singing a certain song with a gentle touch or kiss may distract your baby and forget about pain or an unpleasant event. Or, having certain songs to sing along for car rides can make them fun. Watch your child closely and gauge what type of song is called for.

9.  They build the baby’s self-esteem and confidence.

Tip: Give your child space and opportunities to chime in and let him show his many developing talents. Praise his contributions – he loves to be acknowledged. Your feedback gives his words and actions a special meaning: Mommy loves what I just did, so I’m gonna do it again, and again…

Watch when your child turns his head away, starts to frown – he’s likely had enough. Infants and toddlers need down-time to relax and learn from all the exciting things they do with you.

How are you engaging your child in songs and music?

Do you have a repertoire of songs that you sing over and over together?

Do you have any favorite songs, music, shakers or rattlers?

Share your experiences with other parents and young children by submitting pictures, videos or stories on Parent Share.

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Looking for a resource to more closely tune in to your child and foster learning all around as you build a strong foundation together, check out my new book: Raising A Talker: Easy Activities for Birth to Age 3.

Click here to find out more about it and read excerpts.

More information – Gryphon House