Can sound stimulate baby-to-be's development?
My wife is 17 weeks pregnant with our first child, and friends have suggested that reading to our baby and playing classical music helps to stimulate the child's mental development. Is this true?Question:
The brain develops rapidly during the first six months of life and benefits most from proper and sufficient nutrients and the tender nurturing of caring parents.
As far as I know, there are no randomized controlled studies that prove that external stimuli improve fetal brain development.
Dr. T. Barry Brazelton was once asked what he would recommend to stimulate brain development in infants. He said he would, at every chance, put the baby on her tummy on the floor and let her explore the environment (child-proofed, no doubt).
We know babies can hear in utero. They start with loud sounds, and you can wake them up by quacking a duck call near the mother's abdomen. There is anecdotal "evidence" that babies have learned to appreciate the sounds of their parent's voices and are calmed by hearing familiar music or even the barking of the family dog.
I once had the opportunity to interview Van Kliburn, the pianist. He told me that his mother played classical music continually in their home. He credits this for developing his devotion to music; he didn't mention whether she had done this prenatally, but one can suppose that she did.
I guess the bottom line is that genetics and nurture play the biggest part in brain development, along with good prenatal nutrition. (Folic acid while trying to conceive and during early pregnancy is especially important in helping to prevent neural tube defects.)