Much has been said about babies being able to hear from inside the womb. Lots of theories are bandied about, right from when the baby starts hearing, what and how much it can hear, whether talking or reading to a baby is good for the child, and whether playing certain types of music to an unborn will make the baby a genius. Know when can your baby hear in the womb.
The baby's hearing ability starts to develop at around the 16th week of pregnancy. At twenty weeks or so, the baby's ability to hear is more or less fully developed. After twenty-four weeks, the baby's brain is developed enough to distinguish a mother's voice from a father's. During the last stages of pregnancy, babies can listen, and even remember certain sounds and music. The memory even stays after the baby is born, which you can make out by how the baby is more attuned to, and soothed by the mother's voice after birth.
1. Statement: Talking to my unborn baby is a good thing.
Explanation: Talking to, or reading books to an unborn child is a great way of bonding with the baby. The baby starts recognizing your voice, and will continue to react to it even after it is born. It can recognize the cadence of your language too. In fact, a baby exposed to one language inside the womb reacts more favorably to that language compared to another unfamiliar language, after it is born. This means that the baby recognizes the cadence of a familiar language. Though research data is not very large, it has been shown that being exposed to voices and language in the womb can help shape the baby's brain in positive ways, making it more receptive to processing complex information.
2. Statement: Reading to my baby will make it a genius.
Verdict: Not exactly.
Explanation: Talking and reading to the baby is good, as explained before, but the baby's brain doesn't actually understand anything yet. So what you read, or what you say doesn't matter. Just because you read a mighty physics tome to your belly will not make your baby the next great astrophysicist!
3. Statement: Music affects foetal development.
Verdict: Seems like, but not conclusive.
Explanation: Though it does look like some babies react and move to music, it has not been proven beyond doubt, as it is not easy to conduct experiments on unborn children. But it has already been proven without doubt that in children and adults, exposure to music works positively in many ways, making them definitely smarter! So, only good can come out of playing music to the child! However, it has also been shown that when listening to slow and melodious music, the baby's heartbeat is regular and steady, whereas while exposed to loud music with lots of beats, the baby's heartbeat quickens. So, soothing and harmonious music is preferable.
Playing music to your child works positively in two ways. You feel relaxed while listening to music, which is good for your child,and the child will prefer that music later, initially at least, because of the familiarity, and this is useful for soothing a cranky child.
4. Statement: Playing Mozart to my child will make her a math whiz.
Verdict: Not really.
Explanation: Though this theory gained currency in recent times, it was just an offshoot of a study that showed that students performed better on a math test after they listened to Mozart. There is no hard evidence to show that this is necessarily true. As of now, it is not known whether any particular type of music is good for the baby. The ground rule is – play whatever you like, and whatever soothes you. The pleasure will show in the relaxing of your body, and will benefit the child.
5. Statement: A new-born baby can recognize music it has heard in the womb.
Explanation: There is enough evidence to suggest that a child reacts positively to music that it has heard in the womb. Just like the cadence of language, particular combinations of notes stay on in the child's memory.
6. Statement: I need to play music really loud, if the baby has to hear it.
Explanation: Though the baby is cushioned in layers, it can hear well. Amniotic fluid conducts sound waves satisfactorily, and so, just play music at the volume you want to listen. You don't need to put headphones to your belly! There are some devices which pipe music into the womb. It is not necessary, and in fact, might overstimulate the child, which isn't a good idea. The baby sleeps most of the time, and while soft music doesn't disturb it, loud music might interfere with the sleep patterns of the child.
7. Statement: I need to stay away from loud sounds.
Explanation: Loud, unexpected noises can shock and agitate a baby. Though an occasional loud noise is alright, try not to be around places where there is a constantly loud noise.
8. Statement: Babies can listen and remember well in the last stages of pregnancy.
Verdict: Seems true.
Explanation: Studies have shown that unborn babies in the last stages of pregnancy are more or less just like new-born in their learning and remembering abilities.
Ultimately, remember that the baby can hear quite well in the womb, and talking to it and playing soft music to it is, on the whole, good for the baby!