Nursery rhymes and baby’s development

It’s World Nursery Rhyme Week and we’re sharing the importance of communicating with your baby to give them the best start in life. Nursery rhymes, children’s songs and talking to your baby from birth boosts vocabulary and language development and helps soothe your baby. It helps develop social, emotional and physical skills. Communication is vital for language and literacy development and singing nursery rhymes is a great way to relax and communicate with your baby.

Babies’ brains develop throughout pregnancy and from 16 weeks gestation they can start to hear sound. This is the point when sound transmitters connect to the nerve sending impulses to their brain. They may hear muted sounds initially, of your digestive system and heartbeat, but by 23 weeks they can hear voices. By 35 weeks of pregnancy, they hear and respond to sounds.

Research suggests that babies’ ability to hear in the womb explains why after birth they prefer the sound of their mother’s and family members’ voices. 

So should you start signing songs and nursery rhymes to your baby in the womb? 

Nicky says “Yes and don’t stop until your child is old enough to ask you to! Singing and talking to your baby from early on will help them recognise your voice and support bonding. It is also great for you! laying music is a good way to relax and can ease stress during pregnancy.”

Some research suggests that very early language development may begin before birth and babies may recognise songs they heard in the womb after they’re born. 

Lullabies and nursery rhymes that mimic a heartbeat of 60 beats a minute can be soothing for you and your baby. See some suggestions here

Once your baby is born, communicating with them is vital. From birth to age three, an infant’s brain increases in size rapidly, by age 2 it is 83% of an adult’s volume on average! Your baby’s first year is one of the busiest for brain development. Their brain produces more than a million neural connections each second during this time as it develops rapidly. Neural connections are strengthened with repetition, this is why repeating communication, songs and actions can help your baby learn and develop. For more information click here

Rhyming is a key to literacy development. Have you ever wondered why you can remember words to songs you’ve heard a few times even though you’ve never tried to learn them? Songs and nursery rhymes usually have a recurring theme and rhythm, often using simple and common language used in everyday life. This makes them easy to remember. 

Singing has been shown to release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine – the happy hormones that boost your mood and make you feel good. So sing and communicate with your baby as much as possible, even through pregnancy. 

How and what to say or sing: 

  • Talk through everyday tasks – what you’re doing when you’re changing their nappy or feeding, and even putting a wash or cooking. 
  • Look at your baby when talking or singing – babies respond well to eye contact.
  • Sing a nursery rhyme, they’re simple and catchy or perhaps your favourite song, it helps your baby to learn the rhythm of language and can make you both feel good. 
  • Repeat sounds they make back to them, it helps they learn to listen.
  • Sing to them calmly when they’re upset or crying, it could soothe them.
  • Start a routine of singing nursery rhymes at bedtime, calmly singing to your baby will relax them and you, creating the right atmosphere for sleep. 

For more information about World Nursery Rhyme Week click here

16 November 2022