More and more these days we hear about how singing is good for us whether it’s singing along to our favourite song in the car, at a rugby match or with your local choir, there is plenty of scientific evidence out there to prove that physical and mental health is improved through singing.
So singing to your child and then together with your child has to be a good thing, right? Then how about singing a song to your child with your child’s name in it, that’s making even deeper a connection. It’s like the personalised story book, that child feels special.
If we can sing to our growing child in the womb then they connect with our voice and can be soothed more readily when we sing to them outside of the womb. They recognise our voice and know they are safe.
If a baby is born before full term then there is evidence out there to show how a premature baby can grow more quickly when sung to each day. That’s an incredible find, I think!
Benefits of Singing
1. Improves our mental health by releasing ‘feel good’ endorphins
2. Brings down the heart rate
3. Gives your internal organs a little massage
4. It gives your brain a little massage with the extra oxygen boost
5. Creativity reduces our stress level
6. It can tone our stomach and facial muscles- it’s like an aerobic work out !
7. It is a mindful activity, encouraging focus and concentration
8. Singing boosts the immune system! It can release cytokines and reduce cortisol levels.
9. It can reduce snoring and prevent sleep apnea
Benefits of singing to a child
1. They feel a connection with you
2. Melody and rhythm are good to help with coordination and brain development `
3. Sound waves can be so healing and comforting
4. Children learn through song. It’s how we remember facts and instruction. Rhyme and rhythm get the message across.
you can make it work with your day- infant massage, getting them dressed , changing a nappy, feeding time
Benefits of singing with your child
1. This is a quality bonding experience that your child will remember
2. They can observe and then mimic your sound, facial expressions and tone and this encourages tongue and lip control to help encourage good speech and brain development
3. When you sing together you are giving each other your full undivided attention and this can deepen a bond of mutual love , respect and gratitude.
4. Did I mention the immune boost?!
When we sing, we breathe more deeply and give our internal organs a little massage. The deeper breath brings down the heart rate and if we are an anxious new parent/grandparent/uncle for example then this calmer state can only be a good thing for calming a fractious baby or a tantruming toddler.
I have personal experience of witnessing the benefits to health and well being through the means of song and could relate to you so many happy stories of my 1-1 sessions and singing workshops for all ages, including my work with dementia clients and those with special educational needs over the past 20 years. This project , however, that has been inspired by my journey as a mother has to be the special one , being able to use my skills to connect with my two daughters in this way- it warms the cockles! If I can share this with other parents and child care workers then even better!
A paper published in Women and Birth (journal of the Australian College of Midwives) tells how researchers from the School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano Bicocca, studied 168 pregnant women with the aim of finding out what effect singing had on their babies . They found that singing reduced crying and colic, helped them sleep through the night, and increased bonding. They also found it reduced maternal stress.
Another study investigating cognitive development, conducted by Shannon de l’Etoile of the University of Miami Frost School of Music, concluded that singing to an infant, reading stories and playing with toys were all far more effective in achieving high cognitive scores than listening to recorded music. I find this one interesting as it is the act of doing, the live music or story that is being created that is medicinal here. This brings me back to the reason for ABCC being so simple in its production- your child would rather hear your voice , live , than a recording of a professional singer. So by all means stick the ABCC on and get them falling asleep to Beth’s voice but please, moreover, learn the songs together and sing them together , no matter how much you believe yourself to be a non singer. Your voice is like nectar to your child.