How music affects a child’s brain development

Before a child is born, parents are often told to speak to their unborn babies or play music to them to encourage a response, which in turn encourages brain development. By playing music so early on, you may find that it brings on a response from a baby in the womb as an unborn baby may kick or move when they either hear familiar voices or music being played. 

Even at the very early stages, music for baby brain development is important, as it can create a special bond between you and your child. Music can also support a child’s memory, coordination, movement, listening and socialisation skills – all of which are neatly stored away in their ever-developing brain.

If you would like to better understand the baby brain development stages and get involved in some music activities for preschoolers – read on for advice from The Wandsworth Preschool.

Baby brain development stages

A seven week old fetus’ brain already has the three main sections of the brain mapped out. During the first trimester, a network of nerve endings grow around the spinal cord. By the second trimester, the baby’s brain allows it to move and the baby can start to practice breathing – you can sometimes see their chests rise and fall during the ultrasound. And by the third trimester, the baby’s two hemispheres found in the cerebral cortex begin to evolve.

Want to know more about the baby brain development stages? Here are the different parts of the brain and their functions:

  • Brainstem and cerebellum – this section of the brain manages breathing, blood pressure, balances and reflexes. The brainstem and cerebellum are located at the bottom and back of the head, connected to the spinal cord.
  • Limbic system – this section of the brain manages the body’s emotions and behaviour. It tells the body that it’s hungry, thirsty, happy, sad and the memory is held here too. The limbic system is located at the top of the head and sits above the brainstem.
  • Cerebral cortex – this section of the brain consists of two hemispheres and four lobes. The cerebral cortex’s four lobes include the occipital lobe (helps us to see), temporal lobe (helps us hear, speak and interact), frontal lobe (helps us remember), and the parietal lobe (helps us to feel pain, pressure and changes in temperature).

Music for baby brain development can be introduced to unborn babies as early as 27 weeks. You can play music before this but if you’re looking for a movement response, you can expect better results in the third trimester. Playing music to your unborn baby is a great way to offer them familiarity and comfort when they’re finally delivered into the world. Playing music for baby brain development can offer more than just comfort, it can help them to sleep in the early years, which is important for a number of brain functions.

Music activities for preschoolers

Music for baby brain development is important, so here are some music activities for preschoolers that you can enjoy at home.

  • Musical matches
    This game involves drawing as well as listening to music. The idea is that your child has to pair the song that’s being played with the correct symbol they have drawn. To get started, have your child draw five symbols on separate pieces of paper. These symbols might include a star, bus, sheep, cake and a shark. Once they have their five drawings ready, play their favourite song. One by one, have your child match the songs with the symbol. In this case the star would represent ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, the bus ‘Wheels On The Bus’, the sheep ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, the cake ‘Pat-A-Cake’ and the shark would go with ‘Baby Shark’. Musical matches is great for song recognition and exercises their brain’s limbic system.

  • Instrumental
    Another game for your child’s brain’s limbic system, instrumental is a game where you play the instrumental version of the song and your child sings along to the melody. Not only will they be excited to sing their favourite tunes loud and proud but they will likely bop along and have a good giggle too!

  • Focus music
    When performing tasks, whether that’s clearing up or drawing, play some classical or ambient music in the background to help improve your child’s focus. Focus music is a great way to introduce them to zoning in on a task and avoiding distractions. This will later help them with their studies and is something they may find useful for the rest of their lives.

  • Musical statues
    This game helps to strengthen your child’s concentration and motor skills, which develops the brainstem and cerebellum part of a baby’s brain. That’s because they must listen to the music, dance and stop as soon as the music is paused. They must focus on when the music is on and when the music is off and this message needs to be sent from the brain to their limbs in order for them to remain in the game.

  • Make your own music
    Instruments such as bells, chimes, rattles, blocks and recorders are great instruments for babies. They’re easy to use and make satisfying sounds. Giving them a range of instruments will allow them to experiment with the different ways in which they can make music. This music activity for preschoolers is a great way to improve their coordination, balance and understanding of rhythm. 

Connect with The Wandsworth Preschool

The Wandsworth Preschool is built on excellence and innovation in child education and child care. With a passion for helping children explore, discover, create and learn, we provide a wide range of activities for your child to participate in. From science and discovery to sports, dance and yoga – we’re well-equipped to keep your little ones thriving every day that they’re in our care. 

If you would like to know more about The Wandsworth Preschool, you can take a virtual tour of our premises and contact our dedicated team to arrange an in-person viewing with your little one. 

We hope you enjoyed reading about music for baby brain development and will enjoy the music activities for preschoolers we suggested in this blog. If you would like to read more of our advice and news about all things children, feel free to browse through our news and blogs for more.