Investing in Baby: Classical Music, Reading Aloud and Omega 3s

When my mother learned that my husband and I were expecting our first child, she was ecstatic. Obviously she was excited because grandchildren are always welcome. But she was also excited because I am her first daughter to have a baby – which means she feels freer to share her opinions about child rearing, including where her thoughts land on playing classical music, reading aloud and taking omega 3s during pregnancy, all which are thought to improve brain development in the womb.

While Mom is quick to jump on board to many "natural remedies," I like a little more science to play a role in my child-rearing decisions, especially when it comes to taking supplements during pregnancy. So I did some research, and here's what I found:

Playing Classical Music in Utero

The first trend that my mom suggested I try out was playing classical music to my growing belly. Mom played classical music to my siblings and me while we were in the womb, and we all turned out to be above average in scholastics.

Okay, so Mom had a point there, but for the scientifically-minded me, proof needed to be in the cards as well. I researched the subject, and the science community seems to be split. Some believe that the music can help in brain development, based on how well college students did on mental tasks after listening to Mozart. Others, though, seem to think the music will not influence intellectual development in babies.

After reading the articles, I've decided that the music will not guarantee a higher IQ. But since playing Mozart to Baby really can't hurt and could potentially help, I see no problem with turning up some classical tunes during pregnancy.

Reading Aloud to Your Burgeoning Belly

Babies can hear your voice from around the 16th week of development in the womb; so when my mother told me that reading aloud to the developing fetus is also linked to brain development, I thought there may be something to this as well. My research showed a link...but not in the way Mom laid it out.

The National Institute of Health found that reading to your unborn child can produce some benefits to the baby. Mothers who read or talk aloud to the baby-in-da-belly often develop a connection to the child before birth, produce feelings of relaxation in mother and baby, and help the baby to recognize Mom's voice before delivery.

My consensus? Just like playing classical music, reading aloud can't hurt and could possibly help in some areas of development.

Taking Omega 3s

The final way Mom suggested that I could develop a future neurosurgeon in utero was by taking Omega 3 supplements. And this one is where I have a little more concern because I don't believe supplements are necessary in most healthy diets. In fact, I'm concerned about the ill effects of taking in too much of any vitamin or mineral. So I did a little research.

An article on WebMD states that babies can develop better neurological responses to tests if the mother takes fish oil supplements during pregnancy.

Sounds great, right? Well, studies are not conclusive about how much Omega 3s a mom needs during pregnancy, and I couldn't find any info about the effects of the supplement in the long term. My take on this? Ask your doctor what's safest for you. Personally, I decided to focus on eating walnuts, eggs, salmon and tuna in safe amounts throughout my pregnancy.

Overall, if you want to offer your unborn child the best opportunities in brain development, it can't hurt to play a little Mozart and read to your pregnant belly. But run any supplements by your doc to make sure it's safe for you and the baby.

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Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Mon, 09/10/2012 - 16:08 Comment #: 1

I remember when Baby Einstein products were huge, largely because the exposure to classical music they played during their short, attention-grabbing cuts was marketed to parents as making their babies smarter. It turned out that wasn't true at all, and parents can return their items at full refund if they bought them under this assumption.

That's not to say classical music does or doesn't help. But I'm pretty sure TV doesn't. :p I think the whole thing is a pretty hard thing to conclusively prove one way or the other.

Anonymous's picture

nicoleandmaggie wrote:

Mon, 09/10/2012 - 19:21 Comment #: 2

Oops. Hopefully just the ambient noise was good for my DCs. Heck, they got to hear all sorts of great economics and math lectures.

I agree on the supplements... especially things like pills as dietary supplements aren't regulated like medications are and you're never quite sure what you're getting in those pills.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 16:15 Comment #: 3

Femme, I agree -- it is so difficult to prove that classical music does or does not help babies become more intelligent. Music by itself can't hurt, I think, but you're right that television does seem to do more harm than good.

Nicoleandmaggie, I think your DCs will be brilliant, what with econ and math lectures galore! And the music didn't hurt -- be prepared for some smart kiddos:-)

Anonymous's picture

Marie at Family Money Values wrote:

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 21:43 Comment #: 4

Classical music is great to help get the baby to sleep - which certainly helps the worn out parents!

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 16:12 Comment #: 5

Marie, very true -- we have a classical music mobile above DDs crib. It sure helps put her to sleep every night!

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