The question “Does singing and listening to music during pregnancy help my baby’s brain?” and the answer are both complex and evolving. We do know that our auditory processing network is active before birth, probably in the final trimester, and that just after birth, babies use their music processing network to understand their mother’s speech patterns.
But one could imagine that conducting research and experiments on pregnant women and babies is a very delicate area of research, so research moves slowly and carefully. For this reason, this new research by Professor Carles Escera from the Research Group on Cognitive Science at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Barcelona is so exciting.
This study found that when pregnant women sing to their babies or listen to music on loudspeakers during their pregnancy, babies are born with a better ability for neuronal encoding of speech sounds.
Why does this matter? We know that babies who are born with enhanced or advanced levels of auditory processing and rhythm discrimination can exhibit higher abilities in music learning and language abilities in childhood.
It seems that singing and listening to music on a loudspeaker in the three months prior to birth can be connected to skills children might use three, five, or even ten years later. But the brain mechanisms that underpin language development are so closely related to musical abilities that they begin developing incredibly early in life.
Imagine if the next generation of parents felt comfortable singing to their unborn babies and understood the benefits they were giving their baby’s cognitive future. It could be a tiny step that could have an immense impact.