Halfway through this pregnancy, and by all accounts The Baby can now hear not only my voice, but quite a good bit of the outside world too. To celebrate this milestone (hey, we’re talking sound- it’s a big one!) I thought I’d share some of my favourite, newly-learnt facts about, you guessed it- babies and sound. I hope you’ll find them as fascinating as I did. (Need I mention I did not have the first clue about any of this until 20 weeks ago?)
10 Fun Facts About Babies And Sound Perhaps You (and I certainly) Didn’t Know:
1) Ears start to form early on in pregnancy, at around 8 weeks, and become structurally complete at the 20-24 week mark.
2) There is a reason why babies and toddlers find rhythm comforting: for the best part of nine months they are immersed in the familiar soundscape of their mother’s heartbeat and various digestive and gurgling sounds. On a loop. 24hrs a day. (Rave on!)
3) To detect the heartbeat of a foetus early on in pregnancy, the Doppler fetal monitor is used: a hand-held ultrasound transducer invented in 1958 by Dr. Edward H. Hons.
4) From around week 24 onwards babies can hear noises from the outside world increasingly clearly- but always through the muffled filter of the amniotic fluid (not unlike the way we hear outside voices when underwater).
5) The voices the foetus hears regularly when inside the womb are impressed in his memory. One theory suggests that a baby’s hearing is well-developed in the uterus to help him bond with the mother before it’s born. This is also why babies can pick out their mother’s voices from any other at birth.
6) In the womb, babies may startle, kick or jump at particularly loud, random outside noises.
7) Specialists strongly advise against pressing headphones or speakers to the growing belly as this could disrupt the baby’s sleeping patterns and by consequence its natural growth.
8) Numerous studies have found that babies who are sung to while they’re in the womb recognize the same tune when it’s sung to them after they are born.
9) Because the womb is such a sonically rich environment, some sources suggest that babies may actually be understimulated once they are born. Playing music is therefore recommended from early on in life.
10) Babies are born with fully developed hearing and are therefore ready to listen, learn and enjoy sound from the onset!