In the past decade, there has been a flurry of research studies which claim that music plays an important role in the intellectual, creative and motor skills development of your baby.
In particular, some psychologists assert that playing Mozart’s music can help to develop speech, motor skills, memory development and even enhance logical thinking skills.
In America, this research was taken so seriously that the state of Florida passed a law (popularly known as the Beethoven Babies Bill) that legislates classical music in the daily programme for all state-funded educational institutions and childcare centres.
However, the evidence that music enhances an infant’s intellectual development to such an extent is not clear-cut.
Other studies show the effects are minimal. What psychologists do know for sure, however, is that music can play a key role in your one-year-old’s life.
For instance, listening to a tune may calm him, excite him, soothe him, put him to sleep or just simply amuse him.
Your infant has a natural affinity towards music. And it really does not matter whether or not he turns out to be musically talented or have a beautiful singing voice; any child can enjoy music, irrespective of his ability.
On that aspect alone, music makes a huge contribution to your growing child’s life.
Music can enhance your child’s development in other ways, too. First, it encourages his hand, arm and leg movements.
Your young child’s natural desire to move his body to the beat of a song helps sharpen his control over his general co-ordination.
It is a natural human instinct to move to the rhythm of music, and your child is no exception to this.
His movements are not well co-ordinated at the moment, but music provides a fun way of improving these skills.
Lots of children’s songs involve body movements. Take I’m A Little Teapot.
Your baby will stand upright, position one arm like the pot handle, the other arm like the spout, and try to bend his body to the side.
That is great physical exercise, which he probably would not do unless it was part of the activity.
Most young kids love playing with “musical instruments”, that is, they love bashing a wooden spoon against a metal biscuit tin or pot in order to make a loud noise.
To you, the sound is intrusive, annoying and lacking in any tune or beat, but to your child, this is “real” music. This musical activity enables him to practise and develop his hand-eye co-ordination.
An interest in music also encourages your baby to focus and to concentrate on what he hears.
If he becomes a good listener through paying attention to music at this young stage in his life, his listening skills should continue to be good by the time he starts school.
Music stimulates your child’s language development. Even as a baby, he needs to hear speech, to hear spoken language used purposely, as this boosts his own natural linguistic skills.
One of the many wonderful things about music is that there are often words to accompany the tunes, and your young child has a strong desire to join in.
Remember that your baby has much more fun from music when you share the pleasure together. The tune seems far more lively and exciting when Mum or Dad enjoy it, too.
He wants you to share in the activity, and that can mean singing with him or giving him a cuddle while you listen to a CD together, or even just watching him as he plays his toy musical instruments.