Welcome to Music Moments, a series of activities for families with babies to connect, play, and grow! Created for Carnegie Hall’s Big Note, Little Note program, these activities will show you how to engage with your little one through musical play, singing, songwriting, and more.
Let’s get started!
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Opening Question: At what time of day is your child most content? Make a note of this as you plan your activity—but keep in mind that you’ll want to give your child a chance to digest if just fed before doing any movement.
ActivityTummy time fun! Sing one song that you know with your child lying in tummy time position.
- Place your child on their tummy.
- Lie down on the floor facing your child.
- Make sure you can see each other’s faces, eye to eye.
- Sing your favorite song while looking at your child.
Or, lie on a bed or sofa and place your baby on your chest in tummy time position, facing you, and sing. Always hold your child firmly for safety.
Always supervise your child when doing tummy time: You never know when tummy time will start to work and your baby will begin to roll over!
Singing with your child during tummy time will help their endurance! Tummy time helps your baby build strength in their neck, shoulders, arms, and midsection. This will help your baby learn to roll, sit, and crawl.
“Why Is Tummy Time Important?” by Genevieve Howland
Soothing, Part One
Opening Question: What time of day can you find time to soothe yourself? When does your child need soothing the most? Make a note of this as you plan your activity.
- Find a moment in your day for YOU. Try to take three deep breaths to calm yourself or practice breathing exercises as you ready yourself for sleep.
- Take one lullaby or one song that you know and slow it down to use during a moment when your child needs soothing.
Remember: When soothing your child, you can use words, sounds, and movement. Babies often find gentle humming very soothing, which can be a good option, especially if your child is over-stimulated.
Babies are often comforted by gentle, repetitive movement, and—you guessed it—sounds! Practicing this kind of activity right before bedtime can lead to a longer and deeper sleep for your baby. Try rocking your child while singing, or try singing while you take a slow walk around the room when they need soothing.
You can find hundreds of lullabies written by parents and caregivers in New York and around the world at soundcloud.com/carnegiehalllullaby.
Rockabye Baby! creates lullaby versions of popular songs by celebrity musicians such as Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Drake, and others. Find their albums at rockabyebabymusic.com/collections/music. You can also find their music on Spotify when you search for “Rockabye Baby!”
- Start a musical conversation with your child. If your baby makes a sound, either mirror that sound or respond with another sound. See what happens if you make it longer or shorter. Try singing the sound.
- Sing an interactive song with your child such as “This Little Light of Mine” or another song that you know. Try using hand motions to connect.
When you sing to your baby, you are soothing them and helping to form strong connections. This helps promote your baby’s social and emotional growth, builds their vocabulary, and more.
University of Miami via ScienceDaily
“Mothers and infants connect through song”
National Association for the Education of Young Children
“Ten Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them” by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer
Opening Question: What time of day does your child seem most content, alert, and happy? Make a note of this as you plan your activity.
Sing a play-based song with your child this week. Try “Peek-a-Boo,” “Patty Cake” (adapted for babies), “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Wheels on the Bus,” or take it up a notch and create your very own song!
Play is key to your child’s learning, development, confidence, and well-being. You can turn an everyday routine like diaper-changing or feeding into a fun musical moment: Try a playful song during a diaper change (safely), or sing during bath time.
Raising Children (Australia)
“Why Play Is Important”
Opening Question: Did you know that even before babies can talk, they are learning language? Think about how and when you talk and sing to your baby throughout the day. What do you talk to your baby about?
- Sing a song to your child in a language you don’t normally use with them.
- A few times a week, when you are talking to your child, try singing the words instead. What do you notice?
Singing to your baby helps them learn how to talk and builds their ever-growing vocabulary.
Fluent in 3 Months
“Sing Your Baby Bilingual!” by Jackie Colchester
“A Way with Words” by Susan Karcz
Write a four-line song for your child using the tune of a familiar song, and try singing it to them at different moments throughout the day.
Parents have been singing to their babies since the beginning of time. The oldest documented lullaby dates back to the time of the ancient Babylonians, around 2000 BC. That’s 4,000 years ago!
- Try having a musical conversation with your child. When your child communicates using words, sounds, and facial expressions, sing your response back to them. Keep the conversation going! You can do this during diaper changes, feeding, or while taking a walk outside. You can also sing about what you’re doing and seeing along the way.
- Sing a counting game with your child this week. Think “Ten in a Bed (Roll Over),” or “Where Is the Beehive?,” etc. You can find more counting songs at allnurseryrhymes.com/nursery-rhymes/counting-songs.
When you sing with your baby, all 12 parts of their brain are at work. The sound, rhythm, words, and connection all help your baby’s brain grow and develop.
Pegasus: The Magazine of the University of Central Florida
“Your Brain on Music”
(Scroll down the page for a cool interactive exploration of music and the brain!)
Harvard University Center on the Developing Child
“Five Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return”
Soothing, Part Two
- Find a moment in your day for YOU, and try one or more of the following:
- Create a simple song that soothes you.
- Create a musical mantra* for yourself.
- Listen to your favorite song.
- Make up one phrase to soothe your child. For example: “I love you; it’s time to sleep,” or “I hear you cry; mommy’s here,” and sing it any which way you like at bedtime or whenever your child needs soothing.
*A mantra is a simple statement that you can repeat to feel good like “I am calm,” or “I am brave.”
Singing or playing an instrument helps reduce stress levels. When you sing, you are helping yourself and your baby to slow your heart rates and breathing rates and lower your blood pressure.
Michigan State University
“Music’s Role in Mindfulness” by Maria Millett
“Six Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today”
Make musical rhythms with your child this week. Clap or drum along to your favorite song. Pots and wooden spoons work well, or you can put some rice in a jar or container to make your very own shaker!
Having fun with rhythm helps babies develop their large muscles and supports their language skills, too. All language has a rhythm and rhyme to it, and with practice, babies will recognize both!
“Babies Have a Sense of Rhythm”
Lead funding is provided by The ELMA Music Foundation (U.S.) and an anonymous donor through support for the Lullaby Project and Early Childhood Programs.
Music Moments were developed in collaboration with Saskia Lane.