It's normal for an expectant mother to talk to her baby. Heck, some moms-to-be even sing or play songs for the little one. If you have a particular love of music, for instance, then chances are you want to share that passion with your kid as soon as possible. But can baby actually hear you in utero?
Good news, future moms — your little one is probably hearing you loud and clear after a certain point in development. According to Baby Center, your growing baby can become aware of some sounds, such as the beat of your heart, around week 23 to 27 weeks. (Take a moment to say awww.) And other sounds from you can be understood once your baby is closer to birth. As noted in Parenting, a baby's heart rate can slow down when hearing his mother's voice, and babies may actually recognize their mother's voice at birth.
Of course, hearing things in the womb may not sound exactly the same as noises carried through the air. So the sounds your baby hears in utero may be somewhat muffled, as noted by What to Expect, and loud sounds likely carry more readily than quieter noises. So although your baby may not be aware of elevator music, he may hear your dog barking or the vacuum running.
With this information in mind, should you take steps to help your baby's hearing develop before he's born? In some situations it may be a good idea. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, very loud noises may still reach your baby in the womb, and potentially damage his hearing. Because you can't put ear protection on your baby at this stage, your best bet is to remove yourself (and your baby) from loud noises whenever possible.
Lastly, what about the idea of playing music for your growing infant? You can feel free to play whatever songs you like on your normal speakers. However, piping orchestral music at your kid will not necessarily make him grow up to be a great composer. According to Baby Center, it's a good idea to play whatever music you regularly enjoy and relax. Whether this is Bach or Britney Spears is up to you. Your baby's music tastes can develop more once he's out in the world.