Unstoppable Learning – TED Radio Hour
Learning is an integral part of human nature. But why do we — as adults — assume learning must be taught, tested and reinforced? Why do we put so much effort into making kids think and act like us? In this hour, TED speakers explore the ways babies and children learn, from the womb to the playground to the Web.
Start at the 15:00 mark and listen until they talk about how newborn babies were able to recognize the theme song to the soap opera that the moms watched while pregnant:)
Original Post here
Of course, generations of parents have known the soothing effect of song on their infants, but now there is some solid evidence to back it up.
Researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York have found that premature babies react positively to music made to replicate the sounds they heard when they were in the womb. In addition, their health also improved when parents engaged in the simple act of singing to them.
The study examined the effects of music over a two-year period on 272 premature babies aged 32 weeks or older across 11 neonatal intensive care units in US hospitals.
It found that music helped the babies sleep, breathe and feed better and also lowered their heart rates and made them more alert.
Three different musical methods were used in the study. Firstly, parents were asked to sing a lullaby, such as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, or a ‘song of kin’ – a tune that means something specific to them – to their baby. On several occasions, this involved taking a well-known pop song and modifying it to make it sound more like a lullaby.
Among the songs chosen by parents in the study were Eight Days A Week by The Beatles, I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye and Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone by The Temptations.
The second intervention involved an ‘ocean disc’ instrument, containing metal beads, which is designed to imitate the sounds the baby would have heard in the womb.
Thirdly, a device called a ‘gato box’ was played to create a rhythm that would replicate a mother’s heartbeat – a sound the baby would have also heard before it was born.
After using all three methods, researchers looked at babies vital signs and found marked improvement.
Dr Joanne Loewy, director of Beth Israel’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the leader of the study, told Metro that the ocean disc helped babies sleep for longer and the gato box enhanced sucking behaviour.
‘We found the lullaby to be very helpful, particularly in relaxing the heartbeat,’ she added.
‘The qualities of music in a lullaby are important for a baby. They’re slow, they’re lilting, they’re repetitive.’
She said Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’s universal melody meant lullabies like the alphabet song (‘Now I know my ABCs’) and Baa, Baa, Black Sheep – all three are variations of the old French folk song, ‘Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman’ – also worked well when sung to infants.
With more contemporary songs, music therapists helped the parents change the meter to make it more lilting, while also removing some words from the original and putting the baby’s name in there instead.
‘We wanted to break down the components of music to see which elements of music could help a baby physiologically,’ explained Dr Loewy.
‘We wanted to know what genre of music is most therapeutic for the parents and the baby because we know that the continuity of care for an infant is long beyond the hospital bed.’
As well as benefitting the babies, music also helped the parents to relieve stress, the study found.
‘If you calm the parents, the baby feels the effects,’ said Dr Loewy.
She compared the baby following its mother’s heartbeat to a classical musician tracking the conductor’s baton in an orchestra.
‘The heartbeat is the first sound the baby hears,’ she said. ‘It’s the first sound humans hear in the womb and it’s not just any old heartbeat – they hear someone else’s heartbeat. The first step of regulation for a human being is that rhythm.’
The results of the study show that music has an important role to play in a baby’s development both before and after it has left the womb.
‘What it means, at the very least, is that doctors and nurses in hospitals will see music and music therapy as a non-invasive healthy intervention,’ said Dr Loewy.
‘These musical interventions are cost-effective, they’re safe and they can have physiological effects which influence babies’ development. That means shorter hospital days and that means safer, more attuned care that includes the parents – not just putting the baby in an incubator.’
Tina Warnock is a trustee at the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT). There are about 700 music therapists in Britain helping children, old people, young people with autism and people with learning disabilities.
She said: ‘I think it’s great that there’s a piece of research that supports the work which has been going on for quite some time. There are whole books on the subject, it’s just that actual large-scale research like that is difficult to achieve. We hope it will support development of music therapy in this country.’
She added: ‘Music connects with instinctive aspects of all of us. Babies have hearing in place much earlier than birth, so with premature babies that’s one of the few things that they can connect with right back to the mother’s heartbeat.
‘There is research that shows babies are naturally attracted to voices, particularly their mothers’ voices. In the womb, they hear their mothers’ voices from inside so they are able to recognise that voice when they come out.’
A study at the beginning of this year by Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state found that newborn babies can tell the difference between the language their mother speaks and a foreign tongue, illustrating that they listen closely while in the womb.
Singing is said to be a vital way in which parents can help their children avoid language problems later in life.
Professor Graham Welch, chairman of music education at the Institute of Education, University of London, said singing keeps us fit as it is a form of exercise. Singing also helps brain function and co-ordination, he said, as well as being a cathartic activity that builds self-confidence.
The BAMT is organising Music Therapy Week between June 8 and 15 – the campaign will let people know how music can change lives.
National music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins delivers more than 50,000 sessions a year in care homes, day centres, hospitals, schools and its own centres, usually helping people with autism, dementia and learning difficulties.
Its annual fundraising event, the Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards, takes place this year on June 28 at the London Hilton hotel. Singer-songwriter and producer Labrinth will be given the American Express Innovation Award at the ceremony.
The awards have been supported in the past by artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Annie Lennox.
We here at Bellybuds were very excited to learn that we would be featured on The Katie Show, with Katie Couric, as part of her ‘April Showers’ baby shower gift show! The audience was entirely made up of expectant mamas who were lucky to receive every cool pregnancy product featured on the show, including Bellybuds! If you missed it, and would like to watch the clip- you can catch it here:
Bumps and babies!
I have been having a ton of fun trying products out during my pregnancy – especially loving the products that are geared specifically for me and Victoria.
Well… I’ve been LOVING Bellybuds for my Victoria during my pregnancy!
Bellybuds are specialized speakers that gently adhere to the belly and safely play music and sounds directly to the womb. A baby’s hearing is fully developed in utero at about 20 weeks and studies have shown that memories begin at 30 weeks. Whether it is music, soothing sounds or even loving voice messages, Bellybuds are a convenient and effective option for playing audio to the womb.
Here’s how I use mine…
As you can tell, they are SUPER easy to use. I think it’s such a wonderful way to bond with your baby and also send them some soothing and beautiful sounds and music.
Definitely worth checking out!!
Original post here
Now, scientists say, infants can also sense the angry tones of parental conflict — even if they’re napping.
In a new study from researchers at University of Oregon, investigators exposed sleeping infants, ranging in age from six months to one year, to the sound of a male voice speaking nonsense words in tones investigators described as “very angry,” “mildly angry,” “neutral,” and “happy.”
Parents in the experiment were asked to complete a questionnaire about conflict levels in their home environment.
While babies in the experiment caught some shut-eye in the university laboratory, researchers used a high-tech neuroimaging device to evaluate their tiny subjects’ responses to hearing angry voices.
Scientists have known for years that severe stressors, such as maltreatment and institutionalization, can have a “significant, negative impact on child development.”
Until now, however, researchers have had little information on the impact of moderate stressors.
As UO doctoral student Alice Graham put it, “We were interested in whether a common source of early stress in children’s lives — conflict between parents — is associated with how infants’ brains function.”
While more research is needed, it appears that moderate stressors, such as family conflict, may influence how babies process stress and emotion.
In the UO experiment, babies from homes where parents reported significant conflict showed greater “reactivity” to the “very angry” tone of voice in the experiment — in areas of the brain associated with stress and emotional regulation, said the online news source Science Daily.
Sleeping babies knew an angry voice when they heard one.
In a university release, Graham noted, “Even during sleep infants showed distinct patterns of brain activity depending on the emotional tone of the voice we presented.” The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.
Scientists don’t yet know the long-term impact of parental skirmishes. But in the meantime, if babies sense their parent’s struggles, the warring factions should lower the volume when the little ones are sleeping.
Better yet, call a truce or revisit the dispute later. But don’t make adult issues the baby’s problem.
Bellybuds, ($50) are special flat speakers that can be adhered to your belly to play music and sounds directly to your baby in womb (essentially wearable earphones for your belly).
The product was created by dad turned inventor Curtis Williams, who came up with the idea after watching his then-pregnant wife try to play music to their unborn daughter using iPod earbuds. The problem with her technique was that it left her on her back lying down — not an ideal position for pregnant women — and limited what she could do while playing music.
Realizing there wasn’t currently a prenatal music player on the market, Williams came up with the idea of Bellybuds.
What it promises
A baby’s hearing is fully developed in the womb at about 20 weeks and studies have shown that memories begin at 30 weeks.
Bellybuds provide parents an alternative way to give audio stimulation to their unborn child and it can help start creating music memories now. Research has found that newborns recognize, and can even be soothed by, sounds that were heard in the womb.
Plus, the experience of playing music to your unborn child can help parents further bond.
Ways Bellybuds can be used:
- Moms with breech babies play music to help turn the baby
- Military moms can play recorded messages from dads oversees
- OBGYNS are using Bellybuds to help capture the perfect ultrasound picture
- Surrogacy/adopting couples can familiarize their baby-to-be with their voices
- 1 Set of Bellybuds: Bellybuds plug into standard digital music players
- 4 Pairs of adhesives: To secure the Bellybuds to your tummy while on the go
- 1 Audio splitter: You can listen to the same music as your baby this way
- 1 Storage pouch: Holds all the items for easy organization and portability (just toss in your purse)
To use, follow these steps:
- Plug Bellybuds into any standards digital music player.
- To use without adhesives, simply tuck them into your maternity pants for support.
- To use with adhesives, belly should be free of lotions and oils so they adhere correctly. Follow instructions for applying adhesives to Bellybuds.
- There are “Pre” and “Post” natal settings on the Bellybuds. Make sure to select the “pre”-natal setting. This setting has a lower maximum level of sound that’s safe for a baby in womb.
- Limit use of Bellybuds to 1 hour a day.
Consult your doctor prior to using. See product for full details.
I was super excited to check out the Bellybuds especially after seeing the Modern Family episode where Gloria sings to the baby while wearing a pair. Having similar vocal talents as Gloria, I opted to play the baby some tunes rather than singing her lullabies (don’t want to traumatize her after all).
Prior to using the Bellybuds I discussed it with my OB to get his OK and he recommended playing soft-paced tunes over wild and crazy beats.
With my baby daddy
My husband is obsessed with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which he chose to play for our baby girl (I think he’s secretly hoping it’ll have the Mozart Effect). The first time we used the Bellybuds we used it without the adhesives and the elastic panel in my maternity pants held it in place just fine while sitting on the couch.
It turned out to be a great bonding experience for my husband. He cuddled up and rubbed my belly while the songs played. We both had a great time together.
With the baby’s Grammie
I used the audio splitter to hook up the Bellybuds and my Apple earbuds up to my iPhone so that my mom, who is several states away, could speak to the baby while we were on the phone. Note: I kept the cell phone about 3 feet away from my belly while on the call as an extra safety precaution against cell phone radiation.
Being so far away from each other during my first pregnancy (also my mom’s first grandchild) hasn’t been easy and this was a fun way for her to interact with the baby.
On the move
The adhesives are a nice option for a little more mobility. I was able to wear the Bellybuds while doing a little spring-cleaning in preparation for our little one. The sticky feeling on the adhesives took a little getting used to, but they held up quite nicely and I think the amount that came in the set is enough to get me through the rest of my pregnancy.
I’ve heard moms say that as newborns their little one recognizes the songs they were played in utero. We still have a few more weeks before our little girl arrives and I haven’t been able to test this out yet, but we are playing a rotation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Miles Davis’ Kinda Blue to give her some music appreciation and will hopefully be able to see if she recognizes the songs after birth.
The bottom line
Bellybuds are a fun way for parents-to-be bond with their baby. Grandparents and other family members will get a kick out of the experience too. Dads who are in the military or frequently travel will likely appreciate the bonding opportunity it provides since they can record their voice to be played to the baby.
Bellybuds would be a great baby shower gift or the perfect little present for new grandparents to send expecting moms as a special treat.
Where to buy
Bellybuds are available for purchase at www.bellybuds.com, Babies “R” Us, Amazon.com, BuyBuyBaby, Diapers.com and other retailers.