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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Making Spirits Bright: Musical Gifts for Newborns and Expectant Moms

© 2012 Catherine L Pittman

In the first few months of life, your baby will appreciate things that he or she can look at or listen to.  Babies are quite nearsighted; in their first month they are only able to see clearly at approximately 12 inches. Objects that move slowly and produce soft, gentle sounds are generally the most appreciated by little ones.  What nursery is complete without the sound of music?

Music can turn bedtime into an enchanted, magical moment, weaving a spell over your child with its beautiful sounds and words, and Christmas music is quite soothing. Music has the power to stimulate, motivate and captivate little imaginations, while creating neural pathways in the brain.  Even if your baby isn’t fussy or crying, using music and soft sounds as often as you can, will encourage a calm, peaceful and well-loved feeling.  It is love made audible!

As the Christmas holiday approaches, families are often stumped as to what to give to the newborn baby or expectant mom in their lives.  Music is one of the simplest sensory gifts you can give.  Here are just a few suggestions for a holiday gift!

Stuffed Sensory Toy
One of the benefits of a stuffed toy that plays some kind of sound is that it is quick to grab at 2 a.m.  There are plenty of quality musical and sensory toys.  Some of our favorites include:  Mary Meyer’s sweet chocolate musical giraffe, which plays You Are My Sunshine.  North American Bear Company has an adorable satin ears bunny, which has a removable music box and plays Braham’s’ Lullaby. For those who prefer no music, Cloud b Sleep’s sheep with four soothing nature sounds may be just what baby needs.  The little lamb plays a mother’s heartbeat, spring showers, ocean surf and whale songs.  We also like the Tiny Love Animal Friends Take Along Mobile that can be attached to baby carriers, car seats and strollers.

Musical Mobile
No nursery should be without a musical mobile or two.  Having multiple musical mobiles allows mom and dad to change out the tune periodically. The mobile provides both visual and auditory stimulation for your baby. Newborns are quite nearsighted, only seeing about 12 inches away in the beginning.  The brighter the colors, the more it is visually stimulating, teaching your baby to focus.  Selecting a mobile that includes soft music will encourage and develop your baby’s hearing.  Many mobiles play such popular lullabies as Brahms’ Lullaby, Rock-a-bye Baby and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and offer a wide range of themes to match to the décor of the nursery.  One of our favorite mobiles is Carter’s safari mobile.  The giraffe is the arm that attaches to the crib, while the other jungle animals merrily dance to Brahms’ Lullaby.

Baby’s First Instrument
What could possibly be an instrument for a newborn?  The rattle!  Like its Moroccan cousin, the rattle makes a lively, soft noise. It and the squeaky toy will stimulate your baby through sight, sound and touch.  While a newborn cannot hold a rattle or squeaky toy, he or she will respond to the soft sound, which is an important part of baby’s auditory development.  Once babies learn to grasp objects, they are fascinated with how it makes a sound when they move or accidentally squeeze it, promoting development of eye-hand coordination.  The “Guess How Much I Love You Loop Bunny Rattle” and many other rattles offer a grasping ring.  The Lamaze wrist rattles and foot finder sets use Velcro to attach to the wrist or sock. Rattles and squeaky toys come in all different sizes, types and shapes.

MP3 Crib Player
Today’s technology has almost made CD’s a thing of the past.  An MP3 Crib Player pre-loaded with lullabies and soft music is the perfect gift for your newborn.  Lullabies from popular artists, such as Kenny Loggins and Madonna as well as self-publishing musicians can be downloaded from a multitude of sites, for example iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.  No nursery is complete without lullabies sweet!

Music Pregnancy Belt
Before the pregnancy music belt was invented, mothers-to-be everywhere were stretching headphones over their belly to share lullabies and soft music with the little one in their womb.  That is until the pregnancy music belt was invented. The device first began selling in 2003 through Lullabelly in Denver, Colorado.  Today, there are a several companies selling a variety of belt styles.  The perfect musical gift for the mother-to-be is the pregnancy belt, which hooks around the belly and plays lullabies and soft music utilizing a music player.  Think about how music affects your mood. Is it any wonder that listening to music with your unborn child reduces stress and creates a wonderful connection and bonding experience with your little one?  Less stress and bonding with baby is a good thing!

Lullaby CD’s
While lullaby songs can be downloaded from various sites, lullaby CD’s still make a great stocking stuffer for baby’s first Christmas or the expectant mom.

Plato once stated, “Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, and children should be taught music before anything else." Studies now suggest that exposing our children to music at a very early age may in fact aid their intellectual development. A study published in the Journal of Music by Jayne Standley, Ph.D., chair of the music therapy program at Florida State University, found that premature babies exposed to music were calmer.  Unlike preemies that did not listen to music, those exposed to the soft sounds used oxygen more efficiently, gained weight faster, and did not require a long hospital stay. 
Can music really aid in your child’s development? There is little doubt that music is a powerful catalyst for healing, learning, creativity and development.  So this holiday, give the gift of music to that new baby or expectant mom in your life!

About the Author
Catherine currently resides in Oregon and is the owner, songwriter and main vocalist for her children's music production company, Pitter Patter Productions, specializing in original award-winning music for children from newborn through kindergarten since 1992. Living Green?  All of our albums including both Christmas albums are available for download at:, CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes (search Catherine Pittman).  Download by the song or the entire album.

Download our aholiday album, Once Upon a Silent Night.

Picture by vera kratochvil, compliments of All Free Downloads

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