Babies are great listeners but they get distracted as they grow through improved visual acuity and mobility. Activities ("opposites" and body action songs) and instruments that introduce rhythm create opportunities for anticipation and sequencing. It also ensures that the vestibular system which contribues to movement and balance gets adequate stimulation early on. In addition, the longer babies are exposed to appropriate music and experiences, the better their audiation, i.e. the ability to sing silently/hear music inside our heads which is critical for musical memory and performance.
Babies learn best when emotionally involved in an activity because the incoming sensory stimulation is first processed through the non-rational non-conscious limbic system (the seat of emotion) -- and only THEN, goes to the neocortex, the rational brain. Simply put: The less emotional the content/experience, the less memorable! That explains why to this day, he recognises and responds to the "I Love You" from Skinnamarink, rhythm and audiation from Sarasponda, various instrumental action cues from Tants, Tants, Yidelekh, random joyful dancing to Dance, Little Baby, slowing down to All Through The Night and pausing to rest with Softly, Softly.
Music is as much silence as it is sound and elements of both help develop a life skill of focused attention. On the flip side, babies need plenty of rest too (and not just sleep!). Balance structured stimulation and engagement in age-appropriate activities with wakeful leisure time, unstructured moments where you just don't DO anything but rather, BE restored together. This down time helps your child's brain process the learning that occurs. If quiet time is elusive, try to engage your baby with soft conversation, a gentle touch, light movements (standing/rocking/walking slowly). Relaxation is actually a learned behaviour! Watch your baby for cues and pace yourselves during the day, alternate between boisterous and quieter activities, hold baby close and breathe deep, massage!
Some term book recommendations from Ms. Shauna at Kindermusik with Love:
- Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All In Your Head. Carla Hannaford
- Goodnight Moon. Margaret Wise Brown