The word infant means “one without speech” The cooing and babbling of a baby as he learns how to form sounds and words are the early steps to communicating. Even babies in the womb begin to hear sounds about 6 months after conception. They hear their mother’s heart beat and the internal gurgling of her digestive system. External sounds of music and conversation are muffled.
Research shows us music and dance have a big impact on learning and language skills. Dance was an early way of communicating in primitive tribes. The rhythm began with clapping, beating drums and dancing feet. Rhythm and sound reach the brain as electrical signals and different genres of music stimulate different types of movement. These signals were interpreted by the primitive part of the brain.
In the early months after birth babies learn the sounds of the language around them; If they are surrounded by people regularly speaking in several languages they will develop the particular sounds associated with those languages, which is why children born into homes where dual languages are spoken soon learn the correct pronunciation and go on to speak both languages fluently. Initially this innate ability declines after a few months as the brain concentrates on building the electrical pathways that are most used.
However this ability to easily learn languages surrounding them returns again later as the baby develops. It is always amazing how easily small children pick up languages they hear regularly. It takes several years for sight and sound to work together, which is necessary for them to learn to read and write. Music and dance are important for all development and learning, but it has been found singing is especially helpful in the development of partially deaf children.
If you find understanding the development of the brain interesting you may like to read: “The Well Balanced Child by Sally Goddard Blythe If you consider how much babies grow and change in their first year of life you will realise how much they are learning and absorbing. A newborn is a helpless little creature unlike the offspring of many animals, who are able to stand and walk within minutes of birth. Humans arrive with under developed brains, and need a further nine months or a year before they sufficiently developed to stand and walk, this is due to the restrictive size of the pelvis which means, the early development has to continue after birth.
Research now shows recognition of their mother happens within days of birth. However the brain continues to develop over the first year at a phenomenal rate.
Babies need their mothers loving touch in order for their stress and growth hormones to regulate. If their mothers are depressed it is found the babies adjust to low stimulation whereas babies with agitated mothers can be over aroused. It is therefore important for both you and your baby that you stay calm in all circumstances, it is then easier for you to deal with the situation and your baby remains calm. You will also enjoy parenting much more if you learn to be relaxed and follow your instincts and trust yourself.
A baby learns to trust you in the following way: He gazes at you and you respond with a smile, you are then greeted by an excited gurgle and much kicking, this interaction continues for a while between you, until baby becomes tired and looks away. At this point you could try to re-stimulate his response but if you are in tune with your baby you will realise he has had enough and you will cradle him and speak softly. He is learning that you are there to protect and take care of him and he will trust you and relax; you are developing the bond and love between you.