Singing to your baby is just the beginning of your child’s relationship with music, and is also an important early literacy skill.  Children’s songs, traditional rhymes and finger-plays not only lay a foundation that helps children learn language, they’re also a good way to create an emotional bond between baby and caregiver.    

Even though babies do not understand the meanings of the songs and rhymes, it is important for them to hear them.  By 6 months, babies are already able to recognize the sounds of language and rhymes help introduce different forms of the language.  Songs, rhymes and finger-plays also slow down language so children can hear the smaller sounds in words. This is beneficial when children begin to learn to read. 

More benefits of songs, rhymes and finger-plays:

  • They can be used to teach new words/richer vocabulary
  • They can be used to introduce new ideas and concepts 
  • They assist with developing listening and memory skills 

Tips for incorporating music into your everyday routine: 

  • Sing to your baby any chance you get and smile while you are singing! 
  • Sing songs about everything, like going to the store, washing the dishes, or changing a diaper.  Make your own words to familiar tunes like “Happy Birthday” or “The Wheels on the Bus”. 
  • Put your baby on your lap or on a blanket on the floor and look into their eyes when you sing.  Also, lightly tap their arm or leg as you sing so they can feel the beat. 
  • Play children’s music in the car or at home. Check out our recommendations: Let’s Have a Dance Party! Great Music for Kids
  • Sing the same quiet song at bedtime.  Repetition and routines are good for young children and they will know it’s time for sleep. 
  • Dance with your child! Invite the whole family over for a dance party. 
  • Play your favorite music and introduce children to what you enjoy listening to
  • Don’t worry about your singing voice-  you don’t have to sing perfectly to share music with your child.

Check out the “Rhyme, Sing, Play” booklet online, or get a physical copy at either of the Cedar Mill or Bethany Community Libraries (English and Spanish booklets while supplies last). 

More info:

Making Music: Literacy Tips for Parents (Reading Rockets)

10 Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them (NAEYC)