Pregnancy and the first few weeks of a baby’s life are precious times for the mother and infant that is just beginning to be influenced by the world. For many expectant mothers and fathers, the ability to communicate with an unborn baby is one of the most thrilling and speculative parts of the pregnancy, and the addition of music, reading or even speaking to the “bump” becomes a fun way to pass those months.
There is, of course, much more to the role of sound and pregnancy, and the connections a newborn baby can have with the “outside world,” through the use of music and rhythm. Studies have shown that a newborn baby can remember voices he or she heard while in the womb, and the same has been shown for the songs played during the last trimester of a pregnancy. This memory can be a valuable tool for the parents or caregivers of the newborn, helping to establish familiarity in an unfamiliar environment, and then throughout infancy and childhood.
For babies that were born premature, and as any NICU nurse will likely attest, research also shows that by utilizing music in the high-stress NICU environment, premature infants were able to be soothed and calmed. While many consider the ability to understand and appreciate music and rhythm a measure of intelligence and even refinement, these tiny infants are proving that rhythm and song are just as beneficial to the mind and body of a preemie as it is to the great-grandparent of the same infant.
Once an infant is able to express his or her love of rhythm, it is easy to see how the connection to the beat is innate in us all. However, for the babies not-quite-born-yet, and for those who must grow and thrive as preemies, the connection may not be as clear. As the studies show, these little drummers are just as able to feel the groove and love the beat as even the most seasoned djembe player.