How do babies learn to talk?  One way is through hearing songs. When a baby hears a song frequently she becomes familiar with patterns such as word groupings.  When the pattern repeats within the song and then the song repeats, baby has the chance to learn pieces of the song.  As infants near their first birthday they are learning to sing a few words to their favorite song.  “Twinkle twinkle little star” is one of the favorites.  As baby nears the age of two she is beginning to learn the alphabet through the “ABC Song.”  Sometimes parents have songs they love and they introduce them to baby as well.  In the a video from HoundDogBillie’s youtube channel, watch 21 month old Ella Mae sings “An American Trilogy” by Elvis Presley.   Elvis’ music is not typical song material sung to babies, but this song’s slow melody makes it easy for baby to follow and with repetition it is a wonderful learning experience.


Listening to a tune frequently teaches baby to hear the accented musical moments in the song.  Babies and toddlers try and join in to their favorite moments such as a musical crescendo through the movements of their body forward and backward or the movements of their arm in time with the music.  In the above video, Ella”conducts” a crashing musical moment with her arm moving up and down perfectly timed with the music.  She also joins in with other accented moments with her head moving forward and backward or side to side in perfect time.  The first musical instrument baby learns to play is her own body through the use of her voice and the accompaniment of her head, torso or arms to the music.  Later she will learn to play actual instruments as extensions of her limbs, such as the triangle, tambourine, xylophone, or piano.


One of my favorite tips for parents is to sing to baby in the car and sing the same songs so she can learn them and try to join in.  This video is a beautiful example of what can develop over time with that kind of patience and persistence.  You may get bored with the song, but not your baby who is learning speech.  The repetition brings her much joy when she can join in on some of the fun that she is hearing.  Many parents have found that baby stops fussing in the car when they begin singing.  Songs are also a way that baby can continue to engage with you when you are driving and she is stuck facing away from you in her carseat.  She can focus on what she is hearing as well as continue her connection with you.

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