Rhymes and Stories
What are the benefits of singing to my baby?
One of your baby's favourite things is the sound of your voice. Your baby got to know your voice while they were still in the womb. They are soothed and comforted by the sound. So even if you're no X Factor contestant, just remember your baby is your biggest fan!
Singing songs and nursery rhymes has many benefits for your baby. Rhymes and songs help your baby's language development by learning new words and sentences. They also introduce your baby to different noises, counting skills and, if you do the actions with them, help the development of your baby's hand-eye coordination. Research has shown that babies who are exposed to music early in life, have a boost in IQ (intelligence) and improved health overall. Researchers call this the "Mozart Effect".
Not only are there benefits for your baby, there are benefits for you too. Singing to your baby is great for your bonding. It helps you to connect with each other through lots of eye contact, closeness and special one-on-one time that you will both enjoy.
Where should I sing to my baby?
You can sing to your baby anywhere you want to. In the privacy of your own home, on a car journey, or if you are brave and you don't care who hears you, more publically in the supermarket or in a group of friends with babies. It is worth checking with your local library or community centre as these often run free fun groups for parents and carers where you can go and sing rhymes and songs together. These groups are a great place to make new friends too.
You can sing to your baby while having a cuddle or when holding your baby on your lap. Or you can get down on the floor with your baby to sing and move around.
Learn rhymes that you and your baby can use to help with counting.
Discover rhymes with various verses to keep your baby entertained.
Find out songs and rhymes which you and your baby can get really active with.
Learn some rhymes and songs which are calm and gentle, leaving you and your baby relaxed.
When should I sing to my baby?
Choose a time when your baby is alert, relaxed and happy, or in need of entertainment. It may not be best to try to sing to your baby if they are overtired or irritable.
Babies are never too young for you to start singing to them. Babies are born with a good sense of hearing. Even the youngest babies will enjoy hearing your nursery rhymes and songs. Babies love repetition, so soon they will start to recognise the song within the first few lyrics. Babies quickly develop their own favourite rhymes and songs and will respond excitedly when you start singing them.
What about actions and dancing?
Babies often especially enjoy songs with actions and movement. As your baby becomes able to sit on their own, and has enough strength in their neck, you can bounce your baby up and down on your lap or fly them around the room (always watching for unexpected obstacles like pieces of furniture or a hanging lampshade of course!) Be guided by your baby, you'll soon know if what you're doing is a bit too much or not energetic enough.
You can use musical instruments (something as simple as an upturned saucepan and a wooden spoon to use as a drum, or shake a can filled with lentils or pasta) to accompany your singing. As soon as your baby is able to he will love nothing more than to join in.
Which songs or rhymes should I sing?
Think back to your childhood: what were your favourite nursery rhymes? Maybe start off singing those and don't worry if you can't remember all of the words or actions.
Accompany your songs with lots of encouragement
Clap and cheer at the end of a rhyme you've sung together and help your baby to do this too (she will be able to clap herself from around the age of 12 months). Your baby will get maximum enjoyment if she sees that you are happy and enjoying yourself too. It is also a great excuse to give your baby lots of reassuring kisses and cuddles. Your baby will get real pleasure from every minute of this activity together.