Music can be an exceptional tool for helping your child’s development. There are many benefits of music for babies. In fact, the Brain and Creativity Institute, located in California, has actually determined that music during childhood can accelerate brain development.
It’s not all about brain development and academic achievement, though. Music has a host of great benefits for a growing child. Let’s take a look at some of them.
One of the great benefits of music for toddlers has to do with sensory development. During toddlerhood, children are processing their experiences at an incredible rate. They learn from every new and repeated experience. Their brains are busy building a complex network of associations that create a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.
When it comes to sensory development, the benefits of music for babies are much more than just creating sounds for your child to listen to.
They are able to feel the music and engage with a variety of musical props that add to the experience. Bells, tambourines, drums, triangles, and other easy-to-use musical instruments can be used to create a great musical experience for your child.
The inclusion of sensory activities helps encourage your child to fully engage and connect with the learning experience. This makes learning more effective and allows that network of associations to thrive and expand.
It turns out that hearing or seeing a new word in a new context can help your brain create a new association and expand its network of associations. One of the great benefits of music for babies is that music and songs can be used to introduce new vocabulary and words, increasing early literacy skills.
Music does more than just create new associations, though. It also increases your child’s ability to listen and to process information. Of course, this can be a great tool later on, as they move into more academic studies. This means early exposure to music could improve their ability to be auditory learners and to pull pertinent information from written text.
In fact, another great benefit of music for babies is that it helps develop auditory processing ability. Early exposure to music can help your child understand the sound letters make in words—and how to decode new words they encounter.
Frequently referred to as the Mozart effect—so named after the great composer—there is a strong and undeniable correlation between math ability and musical ability.
A significant benefit of music for babies is that listening to classical music (like Mozart) helps activate the same part of the brain that’s responsible for math ability. Once that portion of the brain is lit, it’s more likely to fire and engage. In this cyclical way, exposure to music can help enforce math ability, while the increased interest in math positively influences musical interest and ability.
Just when you thought the benefits of music for babies couldn’t be any more fascinating, it also turns out that minor tones activate the right side of the brain. Major tones, on the other hand, help fire up the left side of the brain. You can even find music that’s actually been written to specifically encourage brain development.
One of the other great benefits of music for babies? Music is a natural mood elevator. It has the incredible ability to tap into and then influence your emotions. You can use music to help get your child excited for an upcoming event if they’re feeling anxious about it. You can also use it to help calm your child after an outburst or prior to bed. Think about how timeless and effective lullabies are.
That’s not the only way music can work its way into your child’s mood. One of the neat benefits of music for babies is that music’s closely associated with memory.
Providing positive experiences for your child that center around music will help them revisit that experience whenever they hear that song. This can be a great tool for you when your child is going through difficult or stressful times.
Music is also known to help expand and improve vocabulary. This is certainly one of the added benefits of music for babies. When a child is listening to music, their brain is fully engaged. We know brains—and children’s brains in particular—are hungry sponges, ready to absorb whatever you throw at them.
This is true with language and vocabulary as well. Learning another language to music is a non-intimidating way to introduce new sounds and words. You may even remember a certain childhood song about a dog that first taught you how to spell.
In case you needed more proof of the benefits of music for babies, you’ll also find music sticks a little more readily than some other forms of learning. If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Using that quality to your advantage can be a great way to incorporate learning vocabulary for your child.
While some believe certain music types or genres are more beneficial for learning than others, you probably want to stick with something your child enjoys. All music works to stimulate the brain. Finding a music style your child wants and enjoys listening to will probably be best for their long term brain development.
There’s simply no doubt that music brings with it a whole bunch of incredible benefits for academics and learning. It’s not all about that portion of the brain, though. Music can also be a great asset for improving a child’s physicality and coordination—one of the other unsung benefits of music for babies.
Music is exciting. It invigorates your child and encourages movement. It can sometimes be frustrating when you want your child to sit still for just a few moments. More often, though, this impulse to move is only going to help strengthen their gross motor skills. In the process, they’ll be developing healthy muscles and bones as well.
Besides developing gross motor skills, you can also introduce fun actions to songs your kids love. This keeps your child thinking, engaging their body and brain on all fronts, to help keep them firing at top speed. Singing songs and doing multiple actions at one time all help improve coordination.
One of the best benefits of music for babies is that it provides great opportunities for your child to be social. They can share fun songs with you or enjoy music class with their peers.
As they grow older, choir, orchestra, and band will be options for them. In those settings, they’ll not only get to continue to grow their brain and skill set, but they’ll also get to engage with like-minded peers.
Have a child who excels in areas outside of academics? That’s okay, too. The benefits of music for babies extends far beyond the academics. Many sports rely on the incorporation of music. Dance, gymnastics, and theater are all great options for children who love music.
If you’ve spent much time watching children’s educational programming, you’ve probably noticed there are a great number of songs. As mentioned earlier, songs have a tendency to stick in the mind. This can be truly one of the benefits of music for babies when a child is experiencing something difficult.
The songs used in such programming generally refer to an experience or emotion the main character is having. When a child recognizes that similarity between what they’re experiencing and what that character experienced, they can recall that song. Recalling the song can help them process their experience and move forward appropriately.
This is also where music can help build empathy. In this scenario, they’re identifying strongly with the character they’ve previously been exposed to. Learning this nuanced social skill will help them down the road as they navigate social expectations and interact with people.
Once you decide you want to incorporate more music into your child’s life, you may be looking for ideas on how to make it happen. You don’t want to miss out on the benefits of music for babies. Here are some great ways to get that important music time in:
There are lots of benefits of music for babies and toddlers. Music may already be influencing your child more than you realize. The great thing is that all of this influence is positive.
If you haven’t introduced music yet, it’s not too late. Now is the perfect time to discover the benefits of music for babies and toddlers, as their brains are developing all the time. Exposing your child to the wonders of music will help them in more ways than you ever thought possible.
Ryan is a co-founder of SmartParentAdvice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Cristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.