Facing the music

Since I first started to be able to feel movement in my tummy a few months ago, I’ve been to three musicals and an opera. It has been interesting to monitor our baby’s reaction to these, and wonder about the reasons why! They loved Singin’ in the Rain, perhaps because we often sing the title track at home so it may have recognised the tune (possibly…) and it was pretty active during the other numbers. There were a few wriggles during Top Hat too. I did think that the opera La Boheme might provoke more of a reaction than it actually did (babies apparently respond better to deeper voices… although as I recall the male singers were more of the tenor variety). It probably took after its grandparents-to-be by indulging in the opportunity for a little snooze.

The most popular show of all? Let it Be. Our baby wriggled frequently, and experienced one of the longest periods of sustained movement that I’ve noticed. The volume was considerably louder than the other performances above, which perhaps had something to do with it. And I’m hoping it was dancing around in enjoyment rather than writhing in agony!

let it be

We like the name George. Not sure about Ringo

The rhythmic nature of most of the Beatles songs surely appealed. According to a 2012 study, “babies are born to boogie”, suggesting an innate response to rhythm and tempo. Although some operas include rhythmic songs, the music tends to be a bit more freestyle which probably didn’t attract our baby’s attention so much. The research also found that babies move around far more in reaction to music than speech, which means our baby’s preference for the musical with the least talking makes perfect sense: Let it Be is 99% music, with very short pauses in between each song (I’m actually not sure it can really be classified as a musical; more as a concert). Although the other two musicals had plenty of songs, they were usually interspersed with speech, which may have caused the little one to drift off.

A recent article in Metro describes how rhythmic music sung to premature babies – such as lullabies – has been proved to not only soothe them, but help them to “sleep, breathe and feed better and also lowered their heart rates and made them more alert.” One of the songs selected in the study was… Eight Days a Week by the Beatles! Generally, songs with a rhythm that mimic a heartbeat seem to be the most effective.

I’m now looking forward to introducing our baby to the wonders of Rodgers and Hammerstein. It might have to wait until after they are born, though – I’m not sure my heightened emotional/hormonal state would be able to cope with Edelweiss or Some Enchanted Evening at the moment (am I the only person in the world to have cried during Ted?)

Oh and judging by the high intensity kicking/dancing, our baby’s favourite Beatles song is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Hmm… might have to add Lucy to our list of possible names!

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