Did you know that babies can’t focus on or imitate sounds in a low pitch? It’s OK to sing your favorite low-pitched song to your little one, but mixing in high-pitched kid songs in a head voice is critical to boosting young children’s natural development.
Head Voice vs Chest Voice…what’s the difference?
Most Top 40 songs (and even most kid songs!) are sung in a chest voice. It’s the lower register that grownups typically use when they speak or sing, and the vibrations are coming from the chest cavity.
When you use a head voice, the register is higher, the sound is lighter, and it feels like the tone is resonating in your head.
It’s no coincidence that grownups tend to speak to babies in higher pitched sounds (can’t you just hear yourself saying “Good morning!” in a high-pitched voice?); the response (a smile, a sound, etc.) is stronger, right?
It’s the same way with singing. Here are the two main reasons why it’s important to sing to little ones in a head voice.
Babies focus better on a head voice.
Babies can hear sounds in any pitch, but hearing is a physical sense. Listening and focusing on sounds is a learned cognitive skill. Higher pitched sounds, specifically sung in a head voice, are associated with positive emotions. So, naturally, babies are drawn to those “happy” moments.
The ability for baby to attend to what you’re singing plays a role in how the sound is processed, the movements your mouth makes, and the beginning stages of learning vocabulary.
Babies can imitate a head voice.
Babies begin to imitate sounds as early as one month, and because their vocal cords or shorter, that imitation is in a higher pitch. Imagine the cognitive reward of their pitch matching yours!
Why are “kid songs” important?
There’s nothing wrong with the hits, R&B, oldies…exposure to different music is key!
However, a few research-backed kid songs (poke around the free Kindermusik app to see what we mean), have intentional pitch, vocabulary, repetition, and pacing that help nurture rhythm, social-emotional skills, language and speech development (hello, head voice!), and so much more.
So, the next time you’re in the car, the classroom, the kitchen, prepping for nap—wherever you find 1:1 time with baby—try singing in a head voice. You don’t need perfect pitch, just higher pitch to encourage active listening and imitation, all while fueling your special bond.