Baby genius? Listening to music in the womb

You’ve heard that listening to music in the womb makes your baby smarter, so should you start broadcasting Mozart and Vivaldi round the clock? Well, while there are a lot of benefits to start playing music for your baby in the womb, it may not really work the way you think.

Can baby respond to music in the womb?

From around 19 weeks, your baby can hear the sounds around him, such as the sound of your heartbeat, your voice and his father’s voice, and all the ambient sounds in your environment. So he can definitely hear the music you play to him.

Those of you who’ve played music to your unborn baby before would know that yes, your baby does react to music, often by being more active. Some researchers have actually found that babies can breathe or kick in rhythm to the music they listen too.

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Are there benefits to hearing music in the womb?

Studies show that there are benefits to listening to music. One study by a Parisian university shows that babies remember the music they heard in the womb, whether it’s from a played melody or from their mothers’ singing. The study showed that the babies’ heartbeats actually slowed down when they heard the song, meaning that they feel soothed by the familiar melodies.

Does music in the womb make babies smarter though?

The theory behind playing classical music to your baby comes from a controversial 1993 study that found that playing baroque music like that of Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi improved the focus of students learning math. However, this theory was subsequently debunked by multiple researchers who found that there was actually no effect on the IQ. So, no, there’s no proof that music, classical or otherwise, makes your baby smarter.

That said, the fact that babies remember melodies they heard in the womb does mean that they have the ability to learn even in the womb. So it’s wonderful to interact with your baby by not only playing music to him, but also by singing to him and talking to him. Just don’t expect him to arrive knowing his ABCs.

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What kind of music should I play then?

You should play the music you enjoy. Think about it — the music you like puts you in a good mood, and if you feel relaxed and happy, your baby will too. Consider playing a variety of music to your baby. Gentle lullabies are great for your baby since you can play it for him after he is born to coax him to sleep. But he may enjoy kicking along to an uptempo rock song too.

There’s no need to put headphones on your belly like you’ve seen on TV. Your baby can hear just fine through your belly. Loud music can actually have an adverse effect on your baby.

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Remember also that your unborn baby spends most of his time sleeping in the womb. So there’s no need to play music round the clock. 20 minutes a day is more than enough stimulation for him.

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