A resource for parents and carers
Music is a wonderful tool that you can use to connect and share with your baby, as we are inherently musical and generally respond positively to the sound of music.
Musical awareness begins at a very early stage. Unborn babies learn to recognise the sound of their parents’ voices and the pulse of life within their mother’s body (e.g. her heartbeat). Unborn babies also hear all the sounds of everyday life, including when their mother sings.
Hearing is usually developed at birth and a baby’s ability to discriminate different types of sounds is also highly developed as early as day one of life.
Music simultaneously stimulates most areas of our brain and therefore maximises a baby’s engagement and enjoyment, in a gentle and fun way.
We all enjoy music, so here are some suggestions for using music to maximise your baby’s enjoyment of your daily routine.
It is important to note that while most babies enjoy music, some may be overwhelmed with the stimulation. Others may enjoy it at one time but not another. If your baby displays signs of over-stimulation (i.e. prolonged crying, pushing away with their arms/legs), try switching off or turning down the volume of the music. If you have any concerns or questions, contact the music therapy team.
When your baby is asleep
If it is possible and suits your family’s lifestyle, choose a CD of relaxing music and use it to help settle your baby at bedtime. We highly recommend playing the same music every time you put your baby to bed. If your baby enjoys some background sound/music while sleeping, leave the music playing softly in the background.
Ideas for music
Music that is gentle, slow, predictable, repetitive, with minimal change in melodic range and beat.
We also recommend music with minimal drum beats and minimal “talking”. The Wiggles, for example, may not be the most appropriate choice.
Positioning of music
Babies like to be encapsulated in sound, and the best way to do this is to place your stereo safely at the head of the cot. We recommend “speaking” voice volume. Watch your baby’s reaction to the sound level and adjust accordingly.
- Music for Dreaming
- Cradle Songs by Karin Schaupp
When your baby is awake
- Sing to, and with, your baby
It doesn’t matter whether you think you are a good singer or not. Your baby loves your voice. Research indicates that babies respond more to music than reading stories. So, try singing and have fun doing so with your baby.
- Gently move your baby to music
If your baby tolerates movement, it is excellent to move their hands and feet to music. Songs such as “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” and “Twinkle twinkle little star” are great for moving with your little one.
- Baby gentle touch/massage
It is important to know that not every baby likes touch. You may start with body part songs like, “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and gently tap your baby’s body part. You may also like to try playing relaxing background music while gently massaging your baby. For more information on infant massage, contact your occupational therapist or music therapist.
- Playing instruments with your baby
Your baby may enjoy listening to, looking at and touching a range of different and colourful instruments. Instruments like bells and chimes that require minimal movement to activate the sound are a good place to start.
- Nursery rhymes
- Gentle classical music
- Gentle music that you and your family enjoy
t: 07 3068 2370
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
In an emergency, always call 000.
If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Australian Music Therapy Association
Why you need to sing nursery rhymes with your baby