"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"
Approximately two weeks ago, my 16-month old started "singing" Baa Baa Black Sheep. Or it could've been the ABC song. Or it could've been Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. They share the same tune. No matter, I was very excited, so I started singing with her, and I watched her little face light up. I'm proud to say that she can carry a tune really well! And, I'm relieved since I can't always carry a tune so well.
But then I remembered what I read right after she was born. I read that babies love hearing their parent's voices. It doesn't matter if your singing rivals nails on a chalkboard - your baby loves your voice. He/she knows your voice. Despite the fact that I would probably get kicked out of the worst choir out there, I still sing all the time to my daughter. I have no choice, really. I teach Stroller Strides classes a few times each week, and attend class when I'm not teaching. We sing. We sing A LOT. And, that's why my daughter is "singing" these songs at home. She knows them now, and she loves them.
Whenever I teach class, I sing loudly in the hopes that I am encouraging even the quietest of moms to sing to her child. Often times, I remind them that their children do not want to hear my voice; their children want to hear their voices. So, I was delighted when fellow instructor, Christina posted a note she found:
"A mother's voice will preferentially activate the parts of the brain responsible for language learning" - University of Montreal & Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre
"Oxytocin (so-called "love" hormone) rises when children hear their mother's voices" - University of Wisconsin - Madison
Additionally, "infant-directed singing" seems to help optimize an infant's mood and regulate his/her arousal level, and it likely strengthens the emotional bond between caregiver and infant. Overall, singing is a super-charged way of connecting to your baby. It has the element of human interaction that little ones crave and need for their cognitive, language and emotional development.*
So, the next time you feel a little self conscious about singing, or you're just not in the mood, think again! Your baby loves your voice, whether it's off-key, raspy, or squeaky. Your voice is perfect to your baby, and he/she wants to hear you belt out a mean Baa Baa Black Sheep!
Trehub, S.E. (2003). Musical predispositions in infancy: An update. In I. Peretz and R. Zatorre's The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music (pgs. 3-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Winkler, I., Haden, G.P., Ladinig, O., Sziller, I., & Honing H. (2009). Newborn infants detect the beat in music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (7), 2468-2471.