Published on 7 September, 2018 and Updated on 26 December, 2019
The first sound that’s music to your baby’s ears: your voice (and Daddy’s of course.) But after mama’s hums and coos, what’s the best type of music for baby? And does it really make a difference? We dug into the research to find out the benefits of listening to music during pregnancy.
According to MomJunction, studies show that unborn babies who experience music in the womb do display significant improvement in overall mental, cognitive, behavioral, sensory, psychological and emotional development compared to babies who don’t. In fact, the right music has actually been shown to change the neural structure of their brain, increasing attention, improving their reflexes and leading to earlier vocalization.
In one report from Healthline, a study suggested that hearing the same song repeatedly while in the womb can even be used to calm babies down after they are born.
It’s important to note though, that these effects likely kick in after 18 weeks, at which point science indicates your baby can begin to hear you.
So, what tunes are best for babies?
If you’ve been reading up on this or talked to friends and family (who hasn’t?) you’ve probably heard that classical is a good way to go. That’s probably because of the intuitive creativity involved in its creation, complexity of melodies, and the fact that it’s purely instrumental (i.e. not synthesized by a computer like a lot of trendy music).
The “Mozart” effect
Studies show that Mozart does indeed improve intellectual capabilities. And it isn’t just Mozart. Beethoven, Chopin and Bach are all safe options too.
Of course, one of the best benefits for baby is that mama is happy and enjoying what she’s hearing, too. When relaxed and enjoying yourself, your cortisol hormone levels go down, which directly affects the way your little one is feeling, too.
So if you’re not vibin’ on the Classics, try modern instrumental interpretations of music you like.
Carnatic Music of Kalyani Raga
Most of us have probably never heard of Kalyani Raga — but this ancient Hindu classical music has been shown to improve reflexes and enhance mental stimulation. It’s also shown to have a positive and calming effect on mama, too.
Anything soothing & melodic
If it lowers your blood pressure and leaves you feeling calmer and more peaceful, chances are it’s a good choice for baby, too. We recommend soft, melodic music that infuses harp, piano and other soft tonal qualities.
While this hasn’t been studied the way that classical music has, we’ve heard anecdotal stories from mamas who claim that soothing ballads like those of Adele have had a positive effect that babies even recognize after birth.
We recommend making your own playlist using a tool like Spotify with a combination of these options. You can even make an experiment out of it: does she/he kick during certain songs? How do you yourself feel?
BONUS: With the SneakPeek Fetal Doppler, you can tune in to baby’s heartbeat, kicks and hiccups anytime, anywhere. The built-in speaker makes it easy to share with others, too!
It’s an experiment, so have fun! You could also try making four different playlists with each to use for different parts of the day, or just to switch it up.
A few pointers for listening
We’ve all seen photos online that shows headphones directly on mama’s belly
— but as it turns out, that’s not advisable. Amniotic fluid is actually a great conductor of sound, and your baby has very sensitive hearing, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. Music that is too loud could be overly stimulating and even stressful for your little one. Try playing it at a normal level on the stereo throughout the day.
Do you know your baby’s gender yet? Find out as early as 8 weeks!
An at-home Fetal Doppler is not a medical device and should not be used as a substitute for regular prenatal care by a licensed doctor. Be sure to make regular appointments and visits with your OBGYN, midwife, or doula.