In TAPS groups, we spend time every week singing silly songs, nursery rhymes, and other songs to our babies. These songs and games do more than just expose our babies to language and vocabulary - they also help our children develop social skills that they'll need as they grow.
How does singing help my baby develop?
Songs expose babies to auditory stimulation and provide an opportunity for you to engage your baby face to face. Psychologists categorize this as "child-directed speech" and its part of the beginning of language development. Research has been done on all kinds of different aspects of how baby's language exposure helps them develop a wide vocabulary. The conclusion? More exposure to wider vocabulary leads to a wider vocabulary and earlier mastery of simple words among children. If you're interested in reading more - Check out this research on child-directed speech out of Stanford.
Singing can also influence your baby's mood. Newborns tend to enjoy lullabies and will sometimes stop crying when you sing to them. It's amazing to watch this in a TAPS group. One moment all the babies are cranky and the next they are staring lovingly, calmly into their mom or dad's eyes. Songs can also make babies happy and excited. Researchers investigated what the perfect song for making babies happy would sound like and Recording Artist Imogen Heap wrote the lyrics. Happy Song has an effect even on adults! Try it. You'll probably smile.
So why is this important? Regulating emotions is one of the core social skills that children work on developing between 0 and 5. When you help your baby calm down by singing, by having face to face time, and by staying in sync with them and giving them breaks from stimulation you're helping them develop the ability to regulate their emotions! It takes a long time for this to fully develop and your baby's needs will change as they grow - and so will the songs that you sing. But one thing is certain - singing can help at any age.
Songs and singing games can also be used to help babies and young children learn simple nouns and body parts (Head Shoulders Knees and Toes!) and transition between activities (Clean up song!). In our house we use songs as a part of the coming home from school transition, saying good bye to friends, and to help us calm down at bedtime. How do you use songs at your house?