image001For your fetus, the uterus is a sort of sensory playground. After he reaches 10 weeks old, he will be stretching and wriggling his limbs. By 23 weeks, your baby will start hearing your voice as well as other sounds and even responding to them. At this point he may even start to taste the foods you eat and enjoy one in particular. These experiences help your child prepare for being born and entering the world.

Multiple studies have shown that talking to your growing baby, reading him stories, or playing music can provide a simple learning experience while still in the uterus.

Will Music During Pregnancy Affect Fetal Development?

Experts are still unsure about whether music affects the fetal development of babies. Some studies have shown that fetuses do in fact hear as well as react to sounds via movement. Despite this, no one can know what exactly the movements mean. This is because it is impossible to observe an unborn child as easily as you can one who has been born.

Does Music During Pregnancy Make a Baby Smarter?

What Does the Research Say?

Many people have said that playing music during pregnancy for your baby will make him smarter. In reality, however, the studies that showed a link between being exposed to music and doing better in math have been focused on children that were older.

Although research has shown that piano lessons may improve the spatial reasoning skills of children, this study only looked at children between the ages of three and four. Some experts, however, have theorized that if music can affect older children so profoundly, it may benefit babies or even fetuses in a similar manner.

Other people, both parents and experts, claim that newborns recognize the music that their parents had previously played for them while they were still in the womb. In some cases, newborns will even fall asleep or perk up because of a familiar song.

The Bottom Line

Research on music during pregnancy is just beginning and experts are still split with some believing it can help the fetus while others feel it may be harmful or simply annoying to the fetus. Because of this, it is best to play music cautiously and always do so in moderation.

Even experts that promote fetal stimulation such as Van de Carr say that you should not push too hard when it comes to encouraging your child to be a musical genius. You may end up creating a high standard for your child that he will never meet.

If you decide to play music for your baby during pregnancy, you should do so because you want to enjoy it yourself and not because you want your child to be smarter. Music has the ability to perk you up, help you fall asleep, or even provide relaxation depending on what you need.

Listening to music can indirectly help your fetus because when you relax, that will be better for the baby. Any benefits your child experiences after birth due to listening to music should be considered happy but unintended consequences.

Can I Use Headphones on My Belly While Playing Music During Pregnancy?

Most experts agree that you should avoid using headphones directly on your belly as this can overstimulate the baby. People mistakenly think that the music must be loud in order to reach the baby inside the uterus but in reality amniotic fluid conducts sound very well. Instead, your best option is to simply turn on some music on your stereo while you do your daily activities.

What Volume Should I Use ?

During the late 90s, there was a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics that included several studies. This report showed that fetuses who were exposed to loud noises during a long time frame were more likely to have lower weights at birth and be born prematurely as well as an increased risk of having higher frequency hearing loss when born. Most of these studies involved the children of pregnant women who worked in areas with high noise which is different from exposing your child to music.

Despite the difference, you should try not to have your volume higher than about 65 decibels (dB) which is the volume of background music in stores. If it is higher than this, your baby may be startled or hurt. If you want to listen to music for a bit longer, try to stay lower than 50 dB.

Here are some explanations of decibel levels using common household noises to help you understand them better.

  • 50 to 75 dB: a washing machine
  • 55 to 70 dB: a dishwasher
  • 60 to 85 dB: a vacuum cleaner
  • 60 to 95 dB: a hair dryer
  • 65 to 80 dB: an alarm clock
  • 75 to 85 dB: a flushing toilet
  • 80 dB: a ringing phone

How to Select Proper Music During Pregnancy

The best type of music to play for your unborn baby is classical. This will usually include a range of notes and repeat which can create a lullaby sound. Other good options include any music that is not discordant. That is because discordant music tends to be harsh and doesn’t provide soothing harmony which is a main feature of most classical music. If you are choosing music for your baby to listen to in your womb, particularly via headphones, you should opt for songs with soothing harmonies.

Certain rock music as well as rap and heavy metal is usually alarming due to its loud and discordant nature. This music may startle your baby. Some studies done on animals have even suggested these types of music can negatively affect the brain development of the fetus.

Pregnancy Music: Relaxing Piano Music for Labor & Music for Babies

This video features over an hour of relaxing piano music. The music includes harmonies and avoids discordant notes, making it an excellent option for babies in the womb.

Classical Tunes for Babies, from the Womb to the World:

This video is over an hour of classical music designed to help relax your baby while in the womb. It can even help both of you relax during labor: