Feeling kicks, flutters and all-out somersaults inside your tummy are some of the most amazing – and bizarre – sensations. Of course, you want to start talking to your baby in the womb and getting a bit of feedback from them. So much can be done to start developing those family relationships early, from getting dad to talk to baby through the bump, to reading out stories to your unborn child. But what are the myths – and what are the facts – about prenatal learning?
baby's brain develops long before birth
Research from 2013 found that babies start soaking up speech about ten weeks prior to making their grand entrance. They can even tell the difference between a foreign language and their mother tongue hours after they're born.
memories might form sooner than expected
Another study – this time on memory – found that babies who are sung to in the womb may remember it for up to four months after birth. Their brain activity when hearing the same music played to them once out in the world is good and strong, showing it's possible they can recognise simple tunes like lullabies and nursery rhymes.
bump likes to dance
Now we know they can pick up on music, it's worth remembering unborn babies can hear everything else that's going on. From 23 weeks of pregnancy, they can make out your heart beating (and stomach grumbling). As their hearing progresses, they pick up on sounds from the outside world. If you've ever been to a gig while pregnant you'll know they kick like crazy. There's nothing quite like an in-utero mosh pit!
they can hear your partner too
Getting dad talking isn't just great for baby's development. It also helps create a connection between father and child, getting him more involved in the pregnancy. Baby can hear mum really well because of the vibrations in her body. dad will need to get up close to the bump and speak into it like a microphone. It might seem absurd now, but when baby's born and already knows his voice, it'll be well worth taking the time to bond with bump.
if you can't make small talk, sing and read instead
Making small talk is hard at the best of times. It's even harder when you're sitting in the house alone, gossiping away to your belly. If you're struggling to think of things to say, pick up some stories to read aloud. Playing your favourite songs – and singing along – is another way to interact with bump and get that audio going.
Spending a few hours each day chatting to your unborn baby helps strengthen your bond, as well as working on their development. Whether it's rehashing office gossip or running through your to-do list, every word helps your baby's growing brain.