A pregnant woman places headphones on her stomach.
Enjoy some good tunes with your baby. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

For years parents have been told they should talk, sing and read to their babies, even before they are born.

We know this encourages the bonding process for new parents. A study done in Sweden, however, provides another reason to do this.

This specific study included 24 women in the last three months of their pregnancies. During the study, 12 women played the song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to their babies five days a week, while the other 12 didn’t.

The amazing result showed babies who heard the song reacted more strongly to it after birth and up to 4 months old.

This study helped show how long the baby remembered what he or she had heard while still inside the womb.

“The results are significant, as studying the responses in the brain lets us focus on the foundations of fetal memory,” Minna Huotilainen, MD, principal investigator, wrote in the research paper. “The early mechanisms of memory are currently unknown.”

The researchers felt voice and song are most helpful in the future child’s vocabulary. While researching, I also found that during the seventh and eighth months, the baby’s heart rate will slow when they hear their mother’s voice.

I remember years ago seeing a study that had several children visit a hospital room where a new baby rested in a bassinet. The children walked over and talked with the baby. The baby turned toward the voices of his siblings, but not other children.

While some say that babies only respond to their mother’s voice, this doesn’t appear to be true.

Another study attached tape recorders to pacifiers. Researchers then analyzed the sucking patterns of the 1-day-old babies.

“Within 10 to 20 minutes, the babies learned to adjust their sucking rate on the pacifier to turn toward their own mother’s voice,” says the study’s coauthor William Fifer, PhD. “This not only points out a newborn’s innate love for his mother’s voice, but also a baby’s unique ability to learn quickly.”

The study also noted that the baby’s sucking pattern differed depending on the language spoken. The babies responded to the language their mother spoke.

As we’ve seen by these studies, babies respond to what they hear while the mother is pregnant. So, moms, keep talking, reading and playing music to your babies.