pregnant woman listening to music

Music might soothe baby’s soul, even before birth. But don’t go putting earphones on your belly just yet. Mom’s voice may be all a baby needs to hear.

Your tiny companion is listening to your voice long before you see each other. Developing babies likely start hearing sounds in the second trimester, but they really begin to respond to various noises during the final trimester.

Mom’s voice, in particular, is conducted through her own body. As you talk, sing, or read aloud, your voice vibrates and amplifies inside of your body.

Researchers have seen a developing baby clearly respond to the sound. It’s an effective system, which doctors say is much more efficient than putting earphones or buds on the belly.

Can You Hear Me, Baby?

Babies actually do learn in the womb, a study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) found. But the researchers are quick to point out that “learning” really means the babies develop familiarity with something.

The researchers noticed that babies who heard a song repeatedly while in the womb seemed to calm when the same song was played after they were born.

But several professionals caution that you don’t need to run out and buy learning CDs and belly buds to teach your child multiple languages in utero. The pros say brain development happens mostly outside of the womb, after your baby is born. That means you can save the serious lessons until later.

But does all of this mean you shouldn’t bother to play Mozart or listen to Marsalis before baby is born? Not at all.

Any healthy activity that you enjoy or find relaxing while you are pregnant will have a positive effect on your baby. Further, if you sing along while you listen, your baby hears your voice and develops familiarity with what you sound like and with the melodies you enjoy.

What Should I Play for My Babe-to-Be?

Is any particular music better for baby? Doctors say simple tunes are best, but nearly anything you enjoy is just fine. The key is to listen because you like it.

If you’re stumped for good tunes, there are a number of playlists on music websites that people have curated just for pregnancy. Some focus on music for meditation, some focus on positive pop music. The options are endless.

For some soothing music you and your babe-to-be will both love, tune into our womb-friendly playlist on Spotify:

Turn Down the Volume

It’s important to remember that a womb is a noisy place. Your stomach gurgles, your heart beats, your lungs fill with air. On top of that, your voice is amplified by the vibration of your bones as the sound travels through your body.

While pregnant, you should try to keep the volume of outside sounds around 50 to 60 decibels, or about the same loudness of a normal conversation. That means you definitely don’t want to use headphones on the belly.

Doctors say that the sound from earphones will be very loud by the time it reaches baby in your belly, which is something you want to avoid.

You can attend the occasional loud concert while you are pregnant or sit in a loud movie theater once in a while. But regular exposure to high volume noises is something nearly all professionals warn against.

All the warnings aside, sing, dance, and enjoy your musical pregnancy — your baby will enjoy it, too!