As early as 450 BCE the Chinese developed prenatal care promoting physical and mental well being. They stressed the benefit of music. Modern prenatal music has increased in sophistication. Woman who once sang sweetly to their unborn child now have special belts that deliver predetermined music tracks through the belly for the most benefit to the baby.
Things to consider for prenatal music:
Noise levels in utero.
Women and their developing fetuses are exposed to increased environmental noise. Babycenter.com (2/2014) refers to American Academy of Pediatrics studies from the 1990’s. Babies exposed to loud noises over long periods of time are more likely to be born prematurely, have low birth weights and can have hearing loss. A volume below 50 decibels is safe for unborn babies even if they are exposed for longer times. As an example, keep the music volume below the level of your dishwasher or washing machine.
Claims made about the benefits of prenatal music.
Penn State News from February 3, 2009 reports that babies in utero hear muffled sounds from the outside world. The rhythm of music the fetus is exposed to will be more influential than the melody. The biggest influence on the fetus is always the mother’s voice. Rhythm and patterns of speech allow the newborn to recognize the mother. The webmd.com article “What’s it Like In the Womb” talks about the ‘Mozart Effect.’ Classical music was promoted as a way to increase intelligence and musical capabilities in children. The WebMD article encourages parents to use music to sooth babies but effect on intelligence isn’t known.
Prenatal music products.
A quick search of the internet brings up dozens of devices designed to deliver music to your unborn child. There are prenatal music belts, abdominal surround sound, and belly ear buds. Prices range from forty dollars to several hundred dollars. There are also phone apps for prenatal stimulation. The upside of these products is the convenience. The downsides are the expense and difficulty in knowing exactly how loud the stimulus actually is.
The big picture.
It has been clear for millennia that musical stimulation is good for your unborn child. There are convenient gadgets for those with the money and curiosity to try them. Even if you can’t afford abdominal surround sound or belly buds you can give your child all the richness of the music you listen to every day as long as you watch the volume. Most important, you don’t need anything special to sing to your unborn child or tell them stories, and this is always what they will like best.