Babies remember sounds from the womb

14 Mar

Pregnant mums – here’s some interesting news about how much your baby hears in the womb. According to a study undertaken by Descartes University in Paris, babies can remember short melodies they heard whilst in the womb.

50 heavily pregnant women were asked to play a descending piano melody twice daily. One month after the babies were born, they were played the same melody and a 9 note ascending melody during sleep and their heart rates monitored. On average, the heart rates of the sleeping babies briefly slowed by 12 beats a minute with the familiar descending melody, compared to five or six beats with the unfamiliar melody.

This research adds to what is understood about what sounds are heard in the womb and about how babies learn to perceive speech. Psychobiologist Carolyn Granier-Deferre, wrote in the online journal, PLUS ONE that the results suggest that ‘newborns pay more attention to what may be their mother’s melodic sounds than they will to those of other women’.

Happy listening to music

Ms Granier-Deferre said that women should not play music to their unborn babies as normal maternal sounds are enough. It is better to encourage music appreciation after the child is born, when its reaction can be gauged and your response can be appropriate to their tastes. She also noted that devices that are placed on the skin which play music can be dangerous. ‘This kind of stimulation can be harmful to the foetal ear if it is too loud or left on too long or applied too early during the inner ear development’ she said.  Human hearing develops during the last three months of pregnancy. By five weeks before birth, the cochlea – the spiral-shaped part of the inner ear responsible for hearing – is usually mature and means the foetus can hear all the sounds going on around them.

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