Music with a Newborn
Being a musician, I thought I'd spend the first months of motherhood penning lullabies, singing "Hush Little Baby" while our newborn slept peacefully to Mozart. Well, that was a pipe dream.I heard the same story on a podcast:
"Oh right, I can sing! I have this power that’s been passed down from generations. We can try the lullaby thing. But it totally didn’t work. If anything, he screamed louder." - The Longest Shortest Time
Not only was I getting adjusted to a completely new world as a mother, this little person was on sensory overload. Sometimes silence was the best remedy. Here are some of the beautiful ways that music- and the absence of it- played into the first few months with our newborn babe:
SILENCE IS GOLDEN. In the first few days of Sia's life, anything beyond quiet humming was actually overstimulating. It was a distraction from the most important thing: our connection. Let the silence be your best song!
LESS IS MORE. Not only can a baby remember melodies from the womb, she hears her mother's heartbeat 26 million times before she is born. That's like walking around with a portable kick drum! Forget the music- all she needs, literally, is your heartbeat.
THE SIMPLE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE. Do you notice that we we naturally talk to babies in a sing-song way? It's called motherese, or baby-talk. We're hardwired to be musical, switching to melodies and rhythms to communicate to babies. The resonance of our voice soothes our baby and reinforces our bonding.
WEARING IS CARING. I can't sing enough praises for the benefits of babywearing, but applied to a musical sense it's the best way to be close to your baby while lulling her to sleep. Sia loves to get her groove on in the wrap and then conks out. It's genius. Check out my sister's babywearing channel for how-tos on wrapping your burrito babe.
IMPROVISE OVER INSTRUMENTS. New parent alert! Such a funny joke that I thought I'd actually have spare hands and/or time to play an instrument during the first 3 months. Or that they could actually grab things at that age. LOL. While letting go of the idea of playing instruments, I found the simplicity of improvising songs, humming, bouncing, carrying and just being with her much more of an authentic and calming connection.
YOU'RE YOUR OWN BEST SONGWRITER. Lullabies are an age-old way of calming babies, but it doesn't mean you have to stick to Frère Jacques. It was obvious Sia wasn't buying my renditions of our favorite classics, so I started making up silly ones for her. It was fun and a way for me to be creative amidst all the new motherhood melee.
REPETITION IS KEY. We are a family on the go so I'm always looking for ways to make the little one's life as routine as possible. I have a few playlists that act as cues for her before she sleeps. I never thought I'd outlisten Paul Simon's Graceland, but I managed to do it with Salvador Andrades' Flamenco Guitar Lullabies.
THE BOUNCY BALL IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. I logged hours on the exercise ball before realizing it worked as a great songwriting tool: a built-in metronome! Make use of the resources you have to be musical with your newborn.
SCALE BACK ON THE GADGETS. Previous generations without TV and computers would naturally come together to sing and share stories. Today with all the technological distractions we have to work to keep the tradition of storytelling and lullabies. Giving a pause to screen time will allow you to dip into your own creativity and connect with your newborn in a positive way.
Do you have any tips about being musical with your newborn? Let me know in the comments!