How Music Helps Memory In Babies

little baby girls smiling

How Music Helps Memory In Babies

We Know that Babies Love Music but do you know how music helps memory in babies?

Have you ever witnessed the utter joy on your child’s face when you put on a song that she’s heard before?

The uncontrollable bouncing and wiggling of little limbs in time to the beat of his favourite tune?

A study by Laurel Trainor at McMaster University in Canada shows that infants can remember complex elements of a piece of music.

Rather than melodies and distinctive pitches, tempo and timbre are more significant factors when it comes to the songs a baby does and does not remember.

By encouraging them to listen to music regularly, you can help your baby develop these musical memory skills and hone their sense of rhythm.

And the songs that your child hears regularly can also help them to connect memories of sound with memories of places, people, and events.

Music Helps Auditory Memory And Learning In Babies

You’ve probably experienced this kind of audio-based memory yourself.

You hear a song or a rhythm that takes you back in the same way that a familiar scent does; and suddenly your memory of a person or event that you didn’t realise was still tucked away in your brain becomes vivid and crystal clear.

Benjamin Gold et al. found that pleasurable music has a positive effect on learning and memory. 

This is closely related to the hormones and chemicals that are released in the brain a child hears a song or lullaby that they like, or have heard often.

When your child hears their favourite song, dopamine is released in the brain — a chemical that comes into play when we experience something that feels good to us.

This reinforces listening to music as a pleasurable experience and this is how music helps memory in babies. 


Musical Learning Is About More Than Just Music

An important impact of this is that when you play music to your baby regularly, that particular music can become a learning aid in the world beyond music.

Put on familiar baby music while your child is learning new words or looking through books.

These learning experiences will be enhanced by dopamine release and association with the music too.

The key for infants is in repetition. In order for music to create the experience of pleasurable reinforcement, it needs to be familiar.

So, when you stumble across a song, lullaby, instrument or even a band that your baby clearly loves, remember it.

Play or sing it to them regularly.

And then when your child needs a mood-lift or a bit of help learning something tricky, you’ll have the perfect tool to help them!

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