The sense of sound develops even before a child is born. Babies in the womb respond to music, their parents’ voices and they even startle when hearing loud or sudden sounds. Even before you meet your baby in person, you can start to develop and learn the importance of sound for babies.
Everyone has heard that doctors recommend playing music or reading to your baby in the womb, but not many people actually do it. What you read or the music you play isn’t important as long as you actually do it. You can play rock and roll, read a dictionary or even play the trombone and all of these things your baby will hear and start to develop preferences for certain sounds. Once an infant is born they can recognize their mother’s (and father’s) voice, as well as other sounds they remember from inside the womb, such as the family dog or other siblings.
Newborns and Infants
Babies love new sounds, music, songs and voices, however their sense of hearing is new and a lot more delicate. Most children’s toys such as mobiles, exersaucers, baby seats and playmats come with music at different volume levels. Try to keep the music varied and at different volumes to keep your child from getting bored with repetitious sounds.
One of the best sound activities you can do with your child is just singing to them, no matter how off key you may be. You can sing an actual song or just sing about what you are doing at the moment. Your baby will start to hear different tones as well as vocabulary.
Before six months of age is also the perfect time to introduce a foreign language to your baby, even if you don’t speak one yourself. Play music in Spanish, put on a French movie or search youtube for speeches in other languages. Your baby doesn’t have to understand the words, but his ears and brain will begin to record the new sounds they are hearing.
Older Babies and Toddlers
Older babies and toddlers recognize simple words and commands and have a longer attention span. Board books with sound buttons combine sounds with pictures while they use their motor skills to turn pages. Baby Einstein and Leap Frog brands also offer toys catered to babies and toddlers such as musical instruments, simple video games (yes, even for babies!), and audio books. Many of these toys also come in more than one language.