Does your child have imaginary friends? Wondering if it’s a positive or a negative phase? Let me tell you a story…
My mother grew up in a small southern US town in the 1940s, when polio was rampant. My grandparents, who were older and struggled to have a child, were naturally fearful of the disease and scared to lose her. So, Mom wasn’t allowed to play with other children very often.
Developmental milestones exist for good reason and help with everything from growth tracking to early prevention, but constant focus on checking off every item on the pediatric checklist only causes stress for everyone. When it comes to young toddlers (or really any age), there are some key positive behaviors that you might not realize are already happening.
4 “Minor” Young Toddler Behaviors that = Major Growth
Pretends to have a snack with their teddy bear.
What it means: Exhibiting pretend behaviors may seem like no big deal, but they’re actually early signs that your child has acquired symbolic reasoning (e.g., putting an empty spoon to your mouth is not eating, but represents eating.)
Deliberately turns a bowl of cereal upside down.
What it means: Your child is developing wrist control, which is necessary for just about everything we do with our hands.
Is obsessed with pop-up toys.
What it means: Your child has figured out, When I push that button, something will pop up! In other words, cause-and-effect, or I can make something happen.
Follows commands (like “Don’t touch!” And they actually don’t touch.)
What it means: Your child is learning self-control! At long last, they understand that they are in charge of their own wants and actions, and can exercise (some) control over their impulses.
Is obsessed with pushing, pulling, and throwing.
What it means: Your child is discovering the properties of weight, size, force, and mass. They are investigating questions of science, including which things do what and how.
We like to tell parents that they are their child’s first and best teacher because it’s true! Sure, parents may not always know all the answers—like that initial night home from the hospital (now what?!) or when a baby experiences a growth spurt and wakes up every two hours (why?!).
But, thankfully parenting is not about personally knowing all of the answers all of the time. It doesn’t change the fact that parents ARE the early childhood experts when it comes to their own children.
Of course, everyone needs a little help and affirmation now and again…even the experts. Music can be the go-to resource to help make parenting just a little bit easier and support a parents’ unique role in a young child’s life. In fact, we think music gives parents super powers! Music can provide moments throughout the day (or night) to pause and celebrate the parent-child bond and reinforce a young baby’s development. Here are a few ways babies benefit when parents add music to their parenting toolkit.
10 Reasons for Parents to Give Babies a Daily Dose of Music
1. Rocking, swaying, bouncing, and dancing to music develop babies’ vestibular system. This system is responsible for helping the brain understand gravity, gain balance, and develop spatial awareness. Parenting tip: Put on some music. Pick up your baby and dance. Dancing together will also release endorphins for a mood boost! Who doesn’t need that? 2.Steady beat gives children the ability to walk effortlessly, speak expressively, read fluidly, and even ultimately regulate repeated motions such as riding a bicycle or brushing teeth. While young infants are learning how to control their movements, lap bounces allow them to feel a steady beat with their whole bodies. Older babies benefit from lap bounces as they work to keep their bodies upright while in motion, strengthening the core muscles. Parenting tip: Try this lap bounce from Kindermusik@Homeor make up one of your own. Bounce together when waiting at the doctor’s office or at a restaurant to help pass the time. 3.Playing instruments develops fine motor skills. Grasping instruments between the thumb and index finger or with a fisted grasp pattern encourages the development of fine motor skills, which babies will later use to hold a pencil or spoon, use scissors, or maybe even play the piano! Parenting tip: Provide baby-safe instruments for your child to play with in the car. Put on some favorite music and sing along! 4.Vocal play exposes babies to the sounds of language and teaches them the structure of communication as a parent-child pair take turns “talking.” The ideal time to engage in vocal play is when faces are close together so a baby can mimic facial expressions and watch an adult’s mouth move. Parenting tip: Try this vocal play activity from Kindermusik@Home during diaper changes or when sitting quietly together. 5.Music develops babies’ growing discriminatory listening skills by hearing the various sounds of instruments and the voices of adults singing and humming. This ability to detect and attend to sounds—and to distinguish between them—sets babies on the path to fine-tuned listening and receptive language. Parenting tip: Go on a listening walk to hear the musical sounds found in nature. Point out the different sounds you hear together: birds, leaves moving in the breeze, dogs barking, etc. 6.Dancing and moving to music supports cross-lateral movement, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, and eye tracking—foundational skills for reading. Parenting tip: Try holding your baby in different ways while you dance together. Our “Ways to Hold Baby” graphic will get you started! 7.Participating in music activities in a group supports social and emotional development. When we sing, clap, bounce, or dance to a steady beat in a group with babies, these shared experiences of synchronous movement help form social bonds. Parenting tip: Invite friends and their children over for a musical play date. Not sure where to begin? Visit a Kindermusik class for free or ask about our new solutions for Parents as Teachers (PAT), home-based programs and socialization groups.
8.Listening to soothing music can help teach young children how to relax. In fact, our heartbeats actually synchronize with the music we hear. Added bonus: Children who know how to relax and self-soothe can be better sleepers. Parenting tip: Make a playlist of lullabies and add to the nightly routine to signal bedtime. 9. Pairing a word with a movement increases children’s understanding of the concept even before they can speak. Parenting tip: Try this activity from Kindermusik@Home. Make up your own verses to mirror what you and your baby are doing. 10. The benefits of music enables a child’s brain to more quickly process and retain information, regulate behaviors, make good choices, solve problems, plan, and adjust to changing mental demands. Parenting tip: Sing, dance, and make music with your child throughout the day!
At Kindermusik, we know music has positive effects on early childhood development and language acquisition. And when there’s new research to prove it, we get more excited!
Language Development in Children
New research, reported this week in Science Daily suggests that babies who are able to recognize pitch could also detect language rules, even better than adults. Scientists found that “when it comes to extracting complex rules from spoken language, a three-month-old outperforms adult learners”.
By monitoring babies’ brain responses, scientists were able to determine that infants detected discrepancies with language rules just by hearing changes in syllables or pitch.
“These findings not only help understand how children manage to learn language so quickly during early development, but also point to a strong link between very basic auditory skills and sophisticated rule learning abilities.”
So, next time you’re at Kindermusik class with your little one, think about all the different changes in pitch and tone your child is exposed to – this is actively supporting your child’s language development skills.