I have always had a passion for music. Sometimes, I feel as though music echoes in my veins on a cellular level. I didn’t get to turn music into a career for various reasons. That being said, I do believe that music has a place in our life, especially the life of children and babies.
As a new mom, I had heard that if you play Mozart for your baby it will improve their intelligence. I managed to get my hands on a few baby products that sported a little bit of Mozart. For the most part, all my pregnancies saw me listening to my favourite music while either singing, dancing, or going about my day.
To be honest, I didn’t see my babies enter the world with an IQ similar to that of Einstein, which got me thinking: what is the big hype surrounding music and pregnancy? Being a writer at heart, I decided to become a literary detective and uncover a few truths to share with you.
Busting the Mozart effect myth
After reading 3 articles, it became safe to say that the hype about Mozart increasing cognitive development and intelligence was not all that accurate. In fact, several studies conducted during the 90s showed that the Mozart Effect is in fact a myth. So moms and dads, you don’t have to go and buy a bunch of Mozart CDs.
In these studies, research was mainly conducted on college students with very little research being done on infants and young children. What researches found was that the overall improvement in their study groups was a whopping one-and-a-half-point increase in intelligence between listening to music and taking a test. They decided that this increase in IQ was similar to other styles of music and not isolated to Mozart’s symphonies.
Music and the human brain
At the end of the day, music does have an effect on its listeners. The human brain responds intricately to music. The style of music doesn’t matter when it comes to the effect music has on the brain. It becomes a personal preference. The personal preference will link music to certain memories and experiences that can be either pleasant or carry a more sorrowful, melancholy state.
When people, regardless of their age, listen to music, their brain releases dopamine, a neuro-transmitter in charge of generating that feel-good feeling that is also released when we eat chocolate for example. Music triggers certain neural pathways that are only activated with music, thus it fires up different parts of the brain.
When playing an instrument or singing music, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormones as it builds trust and improves relationships. However, the brain is further impacted by active participation with music. New neural pathways and synapses are created thus your brain builds new bridges that link both sides of the brain together.
Using music to bond with your baby
Of course, your unborn child can’t play an instrument or sing just yet. But, you can. You don’t have to be the next Madonna or Elton John to sing along with your favourite songs or relax to your favourite music beats.
By incorporating music into your everyday routine while you are pregnant, you will be deepening your bond with your baby. From 5 months onwards, your unborn baby will be able to hear the sounds of the environment you are in. Your baby will be able to hear the beautiful melodies of the music you play, the sound of your voice as you sing and talk, and the movements of your body as you dance or sway in time to the music.
Your participation with music will calm you, create a more positive mood, or even help you to fall asleep. If you are relaxed, you increase the chances of giving birth to a relaxed, content baby.
So what are you waiting for? Put on your favourite music, dance or pop your feet up and enjoy a few moments of being alone with your baby. Bonding with your baby is the best way to increase your child’s intelligence both academically and emotionally.