When you are pregnant, your stream of consciousness splits into two. You’ve been thinking for yourself your whole life, but now you’re thinking for your baby, too. All the decisions you make are for two people, but even though you know exactly how you feel, you’re probably constantly wondering what your baby is feeling and sensing inside you. Believe it or not, your baby is doing a lot more in utero than you might think, but I think this is the sweetest thing babies do inside the womb: they actually listen to you.
It is pretty amazing to know that babies can hear their mother’s voice inside the uterus, and fortunately, unlike older kids, they won’t talk back. Once their ears begin to develop, they can pick up bits of noise here and there, but at around 16 weeks, according to What To Expect, your baby can actually hear you. By week 24, they can actually begin responding to sounds with movements, like turning their head or squirming around. Compared to other outside sounds, a mother’s voice will be clearest for a fetus, the article explained, so when you talk, sing, or read to your baby, they will definitely hear you.
And your baby isn’t just listening to you — they are also learning and remembering what they hear. A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that babies are able to remember sounds they heard in utero after they are born, including music, noises, and voices. Other studies, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have found that fetuses can even become familiar with speech patterns, words, and inflections in utero. So when you talk to your baby, you’re essentially giving them their first language lessons.
Nature has an amazing way of bonding mother and baby. Not only will your baby find comfort from your scent and smell, Parents explained that because your baby can remember your voice and inflections from the womb, hearing your voice after birth will be soothing to them. It’s no wonder that fussy newborns are more likely to calm down when they hear their mom speak or sing. Dads and significant others can also share in this bonding experience. If they talk consistently enough around mom’s belly during the third trimester, noted What To Expect, the baby should be able to find comfort in their voice after birth, too.
Not only can babies listen to voices in utero, they may even be able to recognize and respond to rhymes and melodies. According to a study from the University of Florida, when moms read nursery rhymes to their babies multiple times a day during the third trimester, fetal heartbeats would slow down in response. The research surrounding music is even more fascinating. A study by the University of Helsinki found that babies who had heard the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” continuously through the third trimester were able to recognize and respond to the melody after birth when compared to babies who hadn't heard it in utero.
With that being said, I would like to officially credit myself with my daughter’s love for Queen, along with her passion for singing and music. I constantly exposed my belly to my favorite music while I belted out Freddie Mercury lyrics at the top of my lungs. I wasn’t expecting it, but it seems like my daughter came out of my womb singing and humming, completing melodies by the age of 6 months. Music was her pacifier as a baby, and it still is. It turns out, that when I was belting out “Somebody to Love”, she was actually listening and learning.
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