For the last few weeks Jonathan has been reading Winnie the Pooh to Tessa at night. Winnie the Pooh has been my “future baby” theme / obsession since I was a kid. Since most of our books are still in storage, my bazillion antique / collectors / random copies of A.A. Milne’s works are out of reach, so Jon had been reading the books off of his phone. But I finally insisted that we raid the local thrift stores to find some actual, physical, “these are the first books we read to you” books. I was adamant that whatever we find we need, need, NEED to make sure we get her some old school Winnie the Pooh, and as a close second, some Alice in Wonderland books. And guess what we found?
Reading to a baby bump is so very, very important. Babies begin to hear around 18 weeks in the womb, and from that point on they are listening and learning and remembering during the pregnancy. Their brains do not wait for birth to start absorbing information.
Bonding with your baby doesn’t begin the day that he or she is born, it can (and should) begin way before that. While it’s no secret that baby will know moms voice at birth (being constantly surrounded by the ominous rumbling thunder of Mom-God voice), but research has shown that babies whose father’s talked to them constantly while they were in the womb were immediately responsive to the father’s voice at birth as well.
I really don’t understand why dads are cut out of so much regarding pregnancy and birth and child-rearing. Our society is experiencing an epidemic in deadbeat dads, and when there are some amazing guys out there (like my sexy-pants Jonathan) who desperately WANT to be involved in their childs life, they are often overlooked or made to feel that it’s not their place by women who see an almost sacred monopolization on the parent-child bond. I saw a whole discussion on a mommy forum where the majority of women were scoffing at the idea of prenatal bonding between daddy and baby. WTF?!
Research has proven that babies can distinguish between their parents and strangers voices while in the womb – a newborn with an involved father WILL recognize her father’s voice. With recognition comes built in attachment, and when there’s a healthy attachment between baby and parent, the baby comes to believe that the world is a safe place. This is the beginning of the establishment of trust, which is vital to personality development. Hur hur hur baby-hogging feminazis – daddies can and should be building healthy relationships with their budding spawn, too!
Anyway, one of the most upsetting aspects about Jonathan leaving in less than two weeks is that he’s going to miss out on 9 weeks of late 2nd trimester and early 3rd trimester bonding with Tessa. But then we had a rather brilliant idea. My friend Salena had given me her Lullabelly band, which she swears by. The Lullabelly band is basically a fuzzy belly belt with speakers that is iPod compatible. It matches the decibels of a normal conversational voice volume at 60-80 decibels. (See where this is going?)
So we have started recording Jonathan reading bedtime stories to be played on the Lullabelly while he is gone! That way Tessa can hear his voice every night. And we know she hears and enjoys his voice, because just a couple of days ago, while speaking to my belly, Tessa wiggled closer to his lips and started wiggling up against his face. He could even see little twitches outside of my belly where she was wiggling to get closer to him. It was so precious! (And yes, the cats are already getting jealous of the tummy time… they are beginning to treat my bump in the same way they treat books and computers – something to be sat on to intercept our attention and get ALL DA LOVES!)
In addition to keeping up bedtime stories with poppa every night via Lullabelly band, I am also planning on playing music (mostly classical and Baby Einstein) to Tessa. There is no definite measurable scientific proof of just how much music benefits babies in the womb, but the research done thus far points to the fact that the efforts are positive and certainly don’t hurt.
We know, for instance, that children exposed to classical music in the womb are more apt to have increased positive physical and mental development after birth. When studied at six months, the babies exposed to classical music were more advanced in terms of motor, linguistic and intellectual development than babies who received no musical stimulus during pregnancy.
Scientists explain that with every event a baby experiences – including listening to music or its parents voices – it triggers neural impulses which strengthen intercellular connections in the brain. Babies have also been proven to show signs of recognition of songs played in utero, and to be soothed and calmed faster by familiar melodies and rhythms.
As a future homeschool mom, I plan on giving my kids every opportunity to learn and grow, and to do all within my power to make their environment one in which they can thrive. And in my opinion, that responsibility begins in the womb. Along with bedtime and music with the Lullabelly, I plan on chatting with Tessa throughout the pregnancy and being the crazy lady at the supermarket discussing how sometimes potatoes look so sad to my belly. 😉