In Episode 14, we talk all about HOW to use music daily with your baby + WHY music and singing are beneficial for both baby and you!
We discuss things like...
If you're interested in learning more about how to conduct your own Montessori Circle Time, be sure to check out my blog post linked here.
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If you're interested in learning one of my favorite songs, Slippery Fish, I linked it here for you!
I linked the study by Washington University on Music + Brain Development here.
I linked the study showing how singing can decrease stress levels in humans here.
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Bianca A. Solorzano, M.Ed.
Baby Development & Montessori Consultant
And Your Baby Tour Guide
Bianca: [00:00:07] Welcome to Baby Tour Guide’s, Montessori Babies Podcast, I'm your host and Baby Tour Guide, Bianca Solorzano. And for the last decade, I have dedicated myself to helping parents, educators and caregivers optimize baby development through a Montessori lens. This podcast is all about evolving our Montessori practice to make our time with our sweet babies easier, relaxed, and so much fun. Let's jump into it.
Bianca: [00:00:39] Welcome to Episode 14 of our Montessori Babies podcast for those of you who are newly joining us. Thank you for tuning in. And for those of you who have been listening to our podcast, thank you so much for being a part of our community and joining along in our Journey. This is something really exciting. We are talking all about music and babies and how it affects their development and really ways we can incorporate music into our day to day lives with our babies. And there's a couple of different ways that we can do that. And so I wanted to touch on three main ways that we can incorporate music into our day to day lives. These three ways are really something that can be incorporated at multiple times throughout the day and, you know, whatever suits you and your lifestyle with your baby or babies. But I wanted to open with a quote this week to kind of fuel our musical inspiration. So here goes. “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” And that was said by the well-known Greek philosopher, Plato. So I wanted to start with that just because I felt like it was such a perfect way to open our episode. And before I jump into the three ways that we can use music with our babies throughout the day, I want to start with how music can be a benefit to you, your experiences with your baby and really their overall development.
Bianca: [00:02:15] I found this amazing article that was published by Washington University that described a study that their Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences Department did with a group of nine month old babies, and it showed that music improved their brain processing of both music and new speech sounds. And so, you know, one of the things that we could, I guess, hypothesize, if you think about the way that babies learn language, is that music is amazing for language development. Right. And what's amazing is that the more studies and evidence that's published, it supports that. It supports that theory. It supports almost when our instinctive nature is right. So when we sing those lullaby’s and when we, you know, play music with our babies and all of that, it's just so amazing for their processing, for their brain development, for their language development. Another reason that music, music moments throughout your day can be super beneficial for your baby's development is that it really hones in on those serve and return experiences, which we already know are so optimal for their development. And so when you take those moments to sing with your baby, you're playing music and instruments with your baby. You're really having and honoring those back and forth, serve and return moments. And if you're able to slow down and be present in that moment, you're also going to be able to hone in on things like their development of attention, concentration, all of that.
Bianca: [00:03:52] Because one we know babies are really attracted to the human voice, especially that of their primary caregivers. But two, they're also very, very drawn to music and rhythm. And so when we, you know, put all of those things together, you have this really amazing firework type experience that is so great for them. And, you know, as a plus, it's amazing for us to. And I knew this just based off of how I felt, you know, after I sang, had music moments with my babies, you know, but I wanted to find something to back this up. So I did a little research and I found a study. So a 2017 study that measured participants levels of cortisol before and after they sang and based off of their saliva samples. What was discovered was that there lower levels of cortisol after they sang. And so perhaps, you know, these music moments can be your tools for those more stressful moments throughout the day. You know, we know those happen working with babies and toddlers and it's fast paced. But also you got to slow down. And then they're expressing in various ways and not quite using language quite yet. So it takes that extra step to learn how they communicate, learn their cues. When they're young toddlers, they're testing a lot. And so there are various times that are stressful throughout the day. Don't get me wrong, there are many, many moments of just pure magical joy. But yeah, there are some moments that are stressful.
Bianca: [00:05:30] And so if we have some tools in our pocket, we can pull some of those out when we need them as we're going throughout the day. And so what I'm hoping is that you can use music as one of those for yourself and your baby and your family and your just day to day lifestyle jumping right into our first way that we can use music daily with our babies. The first way that I would suggest is by having a Montessori circle time. I actually wrote a blog post on this a while ago and I absolutely recommend having a daily Montessori circle time with your child or children. And this can be, you know, whether you're a parent working with your own child at home or a nanny working with children in somebody else's home, or a teacher working with babies in our school or daycare setting, just having a daily circle time is so amazing for those purposeful moments of connection. And I know when I initially think of a circle time, I think of something a little bit more like a traditional preschool classroom and, you know, three, four or five year olds sitting in a circle on the floor with their teacher and, you know, something along those lines. But a circle time can really be anything that you make it. It can be just one parent with one child or a caregiver with one child sitting on the floor. It can be a caregiver or a parent with, you know, all of your children or a group of children that, you know, you bring together in those moments, stuff like that.
Bianca: [00:07:06] It can be whatever you make it. So the Montessori idea behind a Montessori circle time is that it honors and incorporates the developmental benefits into each element of the experience. So keeping in mind that Montessori is an educational approach aimed at optimizing the natural progression of human development. So we are really going to try to keep some of the developmental ideas at the forefront of our mind when we're conducting the circle time. So here are some of the ideas that I like to keep in mind when conducting the circle time. The first is that music is amazing for language development and this is proven by countless studies. But music really just is a way that we are able to give our kids an extra stepping stool to their language learning right. Because they're absorbing everything. And since babies are extra drawn to rhythmic music type auditory experiences, you add in the language piece and it's just so amazing for their language development. So as we mentioned earlier, the back and forth interaction is great for the serve and return experiences. But to put that in other terms, it builds trust and conversation. So it it really just shows your child what back and forth type language is going to look like.
Bianca: [00:08:33] And within that, your child is watching your mouth and body to learn their language using that absorbent mind that Dr. Montessori talked so much about for the first six years of life. Like we are introducing rhythm, we're showing babies, they can transform their environment and we add this really fun, stimulating sensorial experience into our circle times. And so a couple tips that I have for you for conducting your own Montessori Circle Time is 1) Choose a couple songs (anywhere from two to five songs), depending on the age of your child that you sing every day. And if these songs have hand gestures, all the better. So basically what the repetition within the songs is going to do is offer your child an opportunity to actually vocalize and incorporate the gestures. The gestures will come before the vocalization. But the repetition will offer your child more opportunities to use the vocal expression and, you know, at a time, for example, when they're starting to voice fluctuate, they're starting to babble, stuff like that, that's when they start to form it. And so, you know, when I was conducting Montessori Circle Times, when I ran my Montessori Nido, I had babies as young as eight, nine months trying to sing within the songs right there, trying to use their voice at appropriate times and stuff like that. And even though the words themselves aren't perfectly said, the attempt is there and that refinement just keeps growing and keeps happening the more that we do it. And so a couple of my favorite songs just for you guys to know that I like to sing every day, even now with the clients that I work with and the kids that I work with in home.
Bianca: [00:10:16] I really, really love Tiny Turtle Named Tim so that “I had a tiny turtle. His name was Tiny Tim. I put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim. He drank up all the water. He ate up all the soap. And now he's sick in bed with a bubble in his throat. Bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble...pop!” I don't know if you heard that, but my hands just clapped because I was doing all they hand motions. Yeah. I essentially do hand motions with it. You know when they're saying drink up all the water, I'm signing water and ate up all the soap I'm signing eat and stuff like that. I added in hand motions, did them and do them now daily with the kids that I'm working with. And I did them every day when I was in the Nido. And that's one of my favorite songs. And it's actually a really, really fun one for the kids because they get to do the big pop at the end and they get to clap with it. And there's a lot of bubble sounds. Which bubble is actually one of the I would say one of the most common words that kids will try to say early on.
Bianca: [00:11:22] So when they start to use more words, so when they start to hit that, you know, ten, eleven, twelve month and they start to go for their first word, bubble is one of the ones that especially if they're exposed to bubbles all the time, is one of the ones that they'll go for. So it's awesome that it's in that time. So that's one of the songs. The second song that I really, really love to do on The Daily with my kids is Slippery Fish. So that one goes “Slippery fish, slippery fish, swimming in the water, slippery fish, slippery fish. Gulp, gulp, gulp. Oh no! He was eaten by a tuna fish, a tuna fish swimming in the water. A tuna fish…” It goes through a whole progression of fish or types of fish and, you know, gets to a humongous whale at the very end. I will link one of my favorite YouTube videos down below so you can learn it, but I definitely suggest singing it versus playing the YouTube video just because you don't really have that interactive back and forth experience with your baby. And the third song that I would really, really suggest that is a classic is If You're Happy and You Know It. So with this one so classic, I feel like I sing this every day and it honestly doesn't ever grow old because, you know, the more you do it, the more babies start to interact within it.
Bianca: [00:12:52] And this one is just so much fun, so happy. And, you know, if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands and you're going to clap twice. And it typically would say if you're happy and you know, it's time for your feet, stomp, stomp. You know, but for the second one, for babies, I really like to beep your nose. So “If you're happy and, you know, beep your nose beep beep” because that motion is something that they can watch as you’re singing, as they can watch your mouth because they're already watching your mouth and watching your movements. And it's when they are likely to do the motion. And you can add in stomp your feet shortly thereafter. I just like to beep your nose and the babies really like it. And then obviously “If you’re happy and you know it shout hooray. Hooray!” So if you can throw your arms up in the air, do something really fun. One of the tips that I have for singing whatever songs that you like to sing with your kids is changing at the speed of the song because it really helps maintain their attention throughout the song. Because if you think about it, you know, they're still growing into the ability to focus or concentrate on things. But if you do something like, you know, “I had a tiny turtle, his name was Tiny Tim” you know, something like that where you're just kind of changing up the speed.
Bianca: [00:14:14] It's worked really, really well for me, trying to entertain a classroom of infants and equally as well in my practice when we're at home and with clients and sitting there, you know, with a parent and their child, and so I definitely suggest giving that a try as well. So now that I gave you some insider tips into the Montessori circle time, I will also link the blog post below because it has a lot of extra tips and suggestions to to kind of help with the consistency piece of it and all of that. So I will link that below if you guys are interested in checking that out. And so keep in mind that you can do a Montessori circle time at any point throughout your day, but you can also have it at more of a consistent scheduled time. So say, for example, as soon as you're done cleaning up breakfast, are there A.M. snack or whatever after their, midday feeding or whatever, time works best for you. I definitely suggest that their needs be met for it. So not too sleepy, not too hungry, you know, that kind of thing, because you'll get more of an interactive type experience. But music is definitely one of those things that has that power to just help everyone around, relax. So now to segue into our second way that you can use music daily with your babies. I labeled this point “Sing as you go.” So essentially what this means is you sing as you're doing stuff.
Bianca: [00:15:43] It may sound a little bit like I'm suggesting, you know, you turn into Mary Poppins, but that's definitely not the case. It's just something along the lines of what we suggested in our language episode, which I also have linked down below, because these two kind of very much correlate. It's another way to sportscast, so sportscasting is essentially where you're narrating everything that you do, if you sing as you go, you're just essentially placing those words to a song. So, for example, something that I would do all day long is make up songs and add them to tunes that I already kind of knew. I mean, it's a lot easier than it sounds. So one way to do this, for example, is say one of my kids has a, you know, a dirty diaper. They just made a poop and they need a diaper change. So I'm going to say something along the lines of, “Oh, you just made a poop. Let's go change your diaper. I'm going to pick up your body.” And then as we're walking over to the bathroom or, you know, to your changing table or wherever you have to change your baby, I would say something like, “we're going to change your diaper, your diaper, your diaper, going to change your diaper.” You know, just literally anything. And I've actually found that singing can really decrease the power struggles. And so what I mean by this is if you say, “OK, come on, we're going to the door” and, you know, they run the opposite way.
Bianca: [00:17:11] But if you start, you know, marching over and singing on your own to the door, there are a lot more likely to follow you. There are a lot more likely to want to do that, too, because it's this fun experience. And, you know, it's really fun, too, because we get to kind of exist in their world and try out, you know, singing as we're going. And it may feel a little bit silly at first, but, you know, it just becomes the norm after you do it a while. So definitely give that a try. You know, and also, of course, all of the other benefits that music offers to baby development and to us are applied to this experience as well. And so the third way that we can use music daily with our babies is through an experience that is so traditional Montessori. It's called music and movement. And it's a very purposeful time for these types of interactions, for music, for dancing, for instruments. And I always did music and movement and had just such fun dance parties. I still do that with my clients and their kids to and on high notes and find notes at the end of, you know, our sessions at the end of the day. But I also did that with my kids when I ran my Nido. You know, I would play just some really fun, fun music.
Bianca: [00:18:24] And kids learn through modeling, babies learn through modeling. And so, you know, we would dance and be silly. We as the teachers and the guides. And, you know, since I did it, at the end of the day, the parents would start to pick up as well and they would be interactive within it and just so much fun. So I definitely suggest giving that a try. It's such a fun experience. You know, you can play music on your TV, you can play music on your phone, you can bring out the instruments. I definitely would also suggest having special instruments for these experiences. So, for example, if you have like a small music basket on their shelf, if you have a home music or a music area, having a couple of special instruments or say, you know, the bell bracelets or, you know, specific maracas that make a fun sound or maybe tambourines that you bring out during this time, it'll make that experience all the more exciting and special and they'll be a lot more drawn to it with, you know, getting to use these special instruments or, you know, say you have songs that you play that are specific to this experience. You know, keeping those songs special to these experiences will just keep that experience all the more exciting. And yeah, so that's what I would recommend. And so obviously there are a lot a lot of different ways that we can incorporate music into our baby's lives.
Bianca: [00:19:43] You know, we can play classical music, you know, at points during their work cycle. We can play nature sounds as they start to relax, you know, before they go down for a nap. We can also play a lot of the stuff that we loved growing up, you know, provided it's clean enough lyric wise. But, you know, exposing our babies to music is such a great way to share the era that we were raised in. And even our culture, you know, music is such a beautiful way to expose our kids to their culture, of their time and their place in their society and how they will be raised. And, you know, that's definitely something that Dr. Montessori really honed in on, was optimizing their development to create an empowered, independent child within their time and society. And culture and music is just such a beautiful way to expose them to that. And so, as we near the end of this episode, I definitely want to end on another quote, because there are so many amazing music quotes out there. And but sticking to Mr. Plato, he said, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but most important music. For the patterns and music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” So that's where we end for today's episode. Thank you to everyone for tuning in to Episode 14. I hope this is helpful to evolving your Montessori and baby development practice. And I will catch you in the next episode. Bye!
Bianca: [00:21:23] Hey, it's Bianca, your Baby Tour Guide here, hopping back in to say thank you again for listening to this episode of Montessori Babies. If you found this episode helpful and would like more information, hop on over to babytourguide.com and download my free Montessori guide to join our community and receive the latest on optimizing development through a Montessori lens. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @babytourguide. Also, if you found this episode helpful to your Montessori practice, I would absolutely love it if you would leave a review to help other parents and educators find our show. Thanks again for listening and I will catch you in the next episode. Bye!