It’s a familiar scene among families expecting a new bundle of joy. Loved ones place their ear against the expectant woman’s tummy, and either listen or talk to the baby inside the womb. Mothers sing soothing lullabies to their unborn babies, as if putting a newborn to sleep.
According to a recent study, babies can remember music played for them while they were still inside their mother’s womb. Findings from this study give scientists a glimpse into how babies behave and respond to external stimuli in utero.
Fifty pregnant women were included in the study led by Psychobiologist Carolyn Granier-Deferre of the Paris Descartes University, and were asked to play a melody twice a day during the latter part of their pregnancies.
After childbirth, the same babies were tested for responses to the same melody. The researchers noted that their heart rates displayed a dramatic change and slowed down by 12 beats per second, signifying recognition of the music.
It is important to note that a baby’s sense of hearing develops during the last three months of pregnancy. The cochlea, part of the inner ear responsible for hearing, is developed around five weeks before childbirth.
Mothers are therefore asked to exercise caution when placing headphones to their tummies, as well as in choosing the type of music they play. Singing songs to babies is still the most highly encouraged practice to develop a sense of music appreciation early on.
“If mothers want to encourage music appreciation in their children, they can begin after the baby is born, during which they can see what pleases or annoys it” says Granier-Deferre. “If the mother wants to sing to her baby, why not? A mother's singing is a wonderful part of the baby’s natural environment.”
SOURCES: • March 10, 2011. “Study Finds That Babies Remember Music Played In Utero” HealthyBabySite.Info • March 9, 2011. Daily Mail Reporter. “Unborn babies played music in the womb ‘remember the melodies when they are born’” DailyMail.co.uk • March 9, 2011. Summer. “Study Finds That Babies Remember Music Played In Utero” GrowingYourBaby.com