Like all the best experiences in early childhood, music helps development on many levels. Simply singing a lullaby while rocking your baby to sleep stimulates early language development, promotes attachment & bonding, and can even help your baby recognize spatial awareness. And the experience of being soothed helps baby learn to soothe herself. Who knew "Rock-a-bye, Baby, on the tree top...." was so important!
Music, by its very nature, is a social experience. Singing and sharing instrumnts is often the first interaction with "friends" that children have. Singing about feelings helps toddlers put words to their emotions; "If you're happy and you know it...." One study found that babies as young as 5 months of age can disinguish between happy and sad music tones.
Physical development is learned early on by using muscles in lips to form words to a song, small hand muscles are strengthened by holding simple musical instruments, and leg and arm muscles are strengthened and fine tuned as baby marches or dances to the different beats of the music. Balance is improved by swaying to the music. Fine motor skills are used to sing "Where is Thumbkin?" or "Open, Shut Them". Many songs introduce simple mathmatics...."One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" or "Three Little Ducks".
Music plays a crucial part in children's lives. Through music, babies and toddlers can come to understand their feelings and discover their world in rich, complex ways. Most importantly, discovering music can help make a child feel cherished and important. To borrow from a well known advertisement:
The price of an egg shaker? $4
The price of a CD? $15
Using music to enrich your baby's life? PRICELESS.