Baby rhythm

Consultant paediatrician Dr Hassan Badr tells us how music can help little ones grow happier, healthier and stronger

Baby rhythm

Our first interaction with our environment is sensory. Children collect information about their surroundings using touch, hearing, smell, vision and taste – forming memories and new knowledge of their world. Later in life, whenever they experience any of these sensations, they interact based on the memory they have of them.

“Without sensations, children’s systems wouldn’t develop,” says Dr Badr. “So, by improving input to kids’ brains through good sensory activity, we can enhance their knowledge and directly improve their skills too. That’s called the environmental effect.”

Babies in the womb start to develop a hearing system at the gestational age of 24 weeks, then hearing sensitivity gradually increases. By the last trimester in the womb, babies can hear music, and many studies have revealed that doing this can have a positive impact on children’s lives later on.

“Music has been used as a treatment tool for newborn babies, especially pre-term, for a very long time. Many studies have been conducted on what types of music achieve the best effect, but it’s classical music that’s mostly used for babies’ growth, rapid development, good psycho-motor achievement and developing talents for later in life. Its effects are also seen in appetite regulation in children, helping treat eating disorders including anorexia and also preventing obesity,” explains Dr Badr.

Now that we know that even ancient cultures used music to remedy many illnesses and health problems, how can you as a parent help your kids with music? The key is in the type of tunes.

“The right music can help your child relax more, making them happy. They’ll sleep better and it’ll aid their growth and development. Experts have found that children got more attached to the rhythm and lyrics of certain types of softer music, which yielded more positive results,” says the paediatrician.

On the other hand, heavy, scary music can have the exact opposite effect. “Rap, metal, marches and rock have a negative impact and may make children more restless. “Loud, slow and with lots of rhythm is the way to go,” advises Dr Badr. With the right music, children will move and have fun at the same time. Put your dancing shoes on mum and dad and join them.

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