Singing Is Learning
Singing to your baby is one of the earliest gifts of literacy that you can give.
“I can’t sing.”
“My voice is terrible.”
“I don’t know any children’s songs.”
“I don’t know the words to any lullabies.”
“Can’t I just play songs and music from my iPhone?”
“My baby is too young to understand what I’m singing.”
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
You need to sing to your baby—right now. You. Not Raffi, not Adele, neither the Captain nor Tennille. You. Here’s why:
Your baby loves your voice. Your squeaky or gravelly or shaky or off-key voice. Because it is YOUR voice and your baby loves YOU. Your baby is learning how you sound, how you speak, how you say words, and how your shared language works. So sing with the voice your baby loves.
Language is naturally rhythmic, so it makes sense that every culture sings lullabies and songs in its signature way. Without even realizing it, we are helping to prepare our babies’ brains to process and understand our shared language.
Science tells us that you should specifically sing in your own voice, and not rely on Mr. Timberlake to entertain your baby. Story time with a real book and a real cuddle makes personal connections and sends signals of love and safety, versus listening to a recorded story. Likewise, singing together, in person, is a bonding experience between you and your child. In fact, singing together at all ages and stages is a wonderful bonding experience for families. (Ask the Von Trapps.)
And here’s a cool bit of info: Babies as young as one day are able to recognize rhythmic patterns. Hungarian researchers figured that out in 2009. So rhythm is innate, not learned. No wonder we calm our babies with rhythmic sh-sh-sh, humming, singing, and rocking. They were born to love it.
One of our favorite bonuses for singing to (and with) children of all ages is that it introduces vocabulary words that they might not experience in their everyday activities. Does the word “waterspout” come up very often at your house? Well, thanks to a certain small spider, your child knows a thing or two about waterspouts! And about spiders, too, for that matter.
Still shy? Still think you don’t know any songs?
Here’s a list of our favorites, to help you get started!
• You Are My Sunshine
• The ABC Song
• Mary Had a Little Lamb
• Itsy Bitsy Spider
• I’m a Little Teapot
• Hush, Little Baby
• Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
• Row, Row, Row Your Boat
• The Wheels on the Bus
• Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Oh, we could go on about the importance of singing to your baby. But we have to get back to work making more awesome sing-along and read-along books for you and your little ones!