In the excellent video clip titled ‘Importance of the early years’ by Professor Glover of Imperial College London UK which I mentioned in my previous blog ‘Foundations of childhood behaviour’ Professor Glover also states “We now know that towards the end of pregnancy babies in the womb swallow the amniotic fluid, which in turn the chemistry of that is affected by what the woman eats. So there has been research showing that if women eat very spicy food the babies when they are born are more likely to the spicy smells they get; they learn to enjoy the food they are going to taste later. It is also known that they can learn to respond to particular music. Again at the end of pregnancy there is one study where women who listened to the soap opera Neighbours a lot, when the baby was born if the tune of the Neighbours was played the baby looked up and alert, and that they didn’t respond to other music in the same way. So there is evidence that – this is really at the end of pregnancy, the last six/eight weeks – babies do start to learn in a way that will prepare them for what they are going to respond to in the world outside.”
Having managed many thousands of women in pregnancy, I personally made similar observations about the impact music on the unborn child. If the pregnant woman was for instance an opera singer then it was opera music that her baby would find most appealing and if she was in a chamber orchestra then classical music was found to be the most calming for her baby. If she on the other hand she was often listening to popular music then it was music by her favourite bands or artists that would be soothing to her baby.
Today at the hospital I noticed that a patient had in her baby’s crib playing the considered relaxing ‘white noise’ sounds to help her baby go to sleep. The idea is the ‘white noise’ sounds are what the baby is exposed to in-utero and so her baby should find them calming and reassuring.
To expose your newborn baby to your favourite music is the same logic as exposing your baby to ‘white noise’ sounds. Your baby has been exposed to your favourite music in-utero and so is more likely to find this calming than a new style of music. Your favourite music is likely to help settle your newborn baby. But please keep the volume down and only have it as soft background music
The food idea is interesting and not surprising. It helps understand why children are often partial to the same food styles as their parents. An applications of this are multiple:
- Think before you eat – as you may be establising your child’s food preferences by what you personally ingest. Only eat healthy food and drink healthy drink. Stay away from junk food and fast food and unhealthy drinks.
- Expose exposing your baby to smell stimuli from healthy foods that you more frequently ate in pregnancy.
- I suggest you don’t change your healthy pregnancy diet very much once you have had your baby and while you are breastfeeding. Your newborn baby will be familiar with what you ingested while pregnant.
It is truly amazing what can have an impact on a newborn baby. I have often read what happens in the first years of life is so important in determining how someone turns out as adults. I suspect these foundations start to be laid before someone is born and that a pregnant woman’s mental state, behaviour, food and music tastes, and more can have an impact on how well adjusted her baby is, tastes and preferences and life attitudes.