Believe it or not, singing is a natural ability that we are all born with. Babies sing before they talk. They are constantly exploring their voice, playing with different sounds and pitches. Unfortunately, so many times this organic musicality goes unnoticed. In a culture where so much emphasis is put on language, babies often receive more positive reinforcement for their talking voices then their singing voices. Therefore, they begin to focus more on their middle range. They learn that when they use their talking voice, they get attention. And so, in many cases, they end up losing their singing voice.
So how can we change this? Easy. Sing back!
When you hear your baby singing, sing back what you hear and label what you are doing. Say things like “we’re singing!” or, “are you using your high voice?”. It is such a simple way to keep your baby’s natural singing going!
Try making a game out of echoing each other’s singing voice. Encourage your baby to sing, helping them to copy your starting pitches. Always try to sing where the baby is singing (the same pitches). Usually you’re child’s voice will be higher than yours because they have shorter vocal chords. So do your best to think high for your voice. Invite dad to play along and use his falsetto (high) voice as babies tend to respond better to a higher pitched voice.
Singing with your child at times of personal interaction such as bathing, dressing, eating is a great bonding activity. Use singing to make daily tasks such as cleaning up and doing chores more enjoyable. Singing can take the edge off stressful times and is a great way to calm a fussy baby or make the car ride more enjoyable (bring your instruments along too!).
We have found a lot of success in singing songs to transition from one activity to another. This not only makes whatever you are doing more fun, but it helps your child to know what is coming up next. Get creative and make up your own songs with silly lyrics. Whatever works for you and your family.
In music class, we like to encourage our little ones to sing on their own. Yes, even our babies get a solo! And some of them totally ham it up! (I may or may not be referring to my daughter Harper :)…) One of the babies favorite activities is the Little Clown song. Click on the link to hear the melody and see the lyrics written below.
Pair this song with a Pop-Up Clown Puppet or doll. When baby vocalizes, reward them by making the clown appear and echoing what you hear.
All: We know you’re hiding in there! We know you’re crouching down! We really want to see you!
Solo: Come out!
All: Little Clown.
Of course, at three months, none of my students are singing “come out!”, but you better believe they are singing up a storm with “ba”, “ma”, “ooh” and “ah” to get the little clown to come up. The babies don’t always sing the first time, or even the second or third time, but through repetition, babies will eventually catch on.
My youngest babies happen to be the best singers. They have no inhibitions and enjoy exploring all their different sounds. As with many things, the earlier you get started with this activity the more success you will have. This is also a great activity to help reinforce the steady beat by bouncing your baby on your lap while singing.
Singing is important for many reasons. But the best part about your singing voice is that it is the instrument that you take with you wherever you go. So giving your baby the gift of singing in tune is a present in which they will be forever grateful.