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Ever notice how your baby's eyes brighten when you play a familiar CD or sing a lullaby? That's because music is much more than just a diversion for a child. A hefty stack of research shows that rhythm and melody help spark memory, imagination, language skills, and reasoning ability. Songs can also calm young kids by reducing their stress-hormone levels. But enough about science. Best of all, music is a great way to bond with Mommy and Daddy.
Babies: First Notes
Music helps you communicate with your baby, build his sense of security, and soothe him. * Just sing. Don't worry if it's off-key: Your baby loves the sound of your voice -- especially when you make eye contact.
* Match his pitch. When your baby coos, echo his voice in a slightly exaggerated, musical way. Older babies may start to mimic your melodic "ahhhs" and "babas."
* Mark time with music. Make up fun little songs to let him know it's bathtime, naptime, or time for a feeding. This will give a comforting structure to your baby's day.
* Make some noise. Hand him an egg shaker or a rattle so he can create his own sounds.
* Get him moving. Bouncing your child on your lap as you recite nursery rhymes will help improve his balance. Also try tapping his legs to the beat of a tune to develop his sense of timing.
* Gotta dance. Play salsa, rock, hip-hop -- or whatever type of music you like -- as you sway, spin, and step in time with your baby.
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