Baby Communication Week Day 614 – 21st June
Singing is one easy way to communicate and bond with your baby before birth, it doesn’t necessarily have to have words, you could just hum a melody to your baby in the womb when you feel happy and relaxed. Make sure you pick something that you won’t mind repeating a lot though! And remember you don’t need to be a ‘good’ singer -your baby will love your singing!
Back in 2006 at our Birthlight Conference in Cambridge, I remember that all those present were wowed by Colwyn Trevathen’s presentation about his research into mother baby interactions and one thing that stuck in my mind was the musicality of babies and their body wide response to interaction with the people around them. Colwyn showed us a film clip of a blind baby ‘conducting’ a familiar song being sung by his mother- a clip viewed and analysed by a professor of music, concluding that the baby was intuitively conducting the beat with one hand a third of a second ahead of the mother’s singing!
A study in Belfast showed that babies remembered the theme tune to Neighbours after birth if they had heard it regularly whilst in the womb.
Over the years I have had the experience, and many of my fellow Perinatal Yoga teachers have also shared this, of meeting the baby of a woman who has come to my prenatal class and the baby turning their head towards me when I have spoken to them- do they recognise my voice from all the times their mum came to class?! There’s a lot of research to suggest that this is the case.
So, when pregnant with my daughter, I sang the same song every day in the shower to her and it certainly was her end of the day going to sleep lullaby, regularly requested for many years. From late pregnancy my partner thought he’d better have his own song too, he already talked to our baby in the womb, and then used his same song to soothe her to sleep after she was born. Later I remember sharing the song I sang on a perinatal training with Françoise. It was just after lunch and my daughter was settling into a feed but she opened her eyes and gave me a quizzical look as this was not the normal time of day for the song!
In Baby Yoga classes I usually use the same song, melody or brahmari (humming) to signal the winding down to relaxation for the last part of the class. Over the weeks parents and babies become accustomed to this signalling a change in rhythm of the class and are generally able to settle more and more easily into a lovely relaxation together. Many parents report that they use this at home to initiate a family nap, or calm a baby when they’ve been in a traffic jam and I once admired a toddler calm herself with the relaxation song we used each week whilst her mum went to the loo.
Lullaby’s are sung the world over but you don’t need to wait until your baby, grandchild, niece or nephew is born to sing to them and brush up on your lullabies. Toys that play songs have made the sound of baby songs reproduced by electronic devices part of our global culture. But when parents or family members themselves sing, babies show a different response and appreciation. This difference comes from the intent to communicate or ‘communicative intent’ that is transmitted when singing to a baby. Now we also know of the developmental benefits that come with the ancient practice of singing lullabies to babies through recent findings from neuroscience and experimental research.
We have collected lullabies from people around the world in a lullaby quilt and we’d love you to add some more. Visit our Lullaby Quilt
If your song repertoire feels a little rusty we have 2 songbooks Baby Yoga Songbook and Baby Swimming Songbook with CDs:
Baby Yoga Songbook
Buy a Baby Yoga Songbook (or pk of 10)
Baby Swimming Songbook
Buy a Baby Swimming Songbook (or pk of 10)
Kirsteen Ruffell is the Co-ordinator for Birthlight’s land-based training courses and is one of our experienced Perinatal and Baby Yoga Tutors. She is a registered Senior Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals, has been teaching yoga since 1998 and began tutoring in 2008.
Brazelton UK is sponsoring Baby Communication Awareness Week, 14 – 21st June 2021. Baby Communication Week is a great way to put supporting Infant Mental Health into practice. It’s about understanding a baby’s experience of the world and how they communicate their preferences in order that we can give the best sensitive and responsive care.