Jingle All the Way – Creating a Musical Sensory Experience for your Baby’s First Christmas

It might be your baby’s first Christmas and you could be forgiven for thinking they’re a little young to really appreciate the magic of the season – but you couldn’t be more wrong! In fact there is so much around to delight your little ones’ eyes, ears, taste and smell – and music plays a big part in that sensory experience at this time of year. So here is how to ensure you make the most of the many developmental benefits that music and song can provide to help ‘stimulate your baby’s brain’ this festive season…

Remember, your baby has spent every day 20 weeks from conception, being able to hear.  That means that every time you listened to the radio, sang along to a song or played a CD, your baby heard it, so it’s grown up with the already familiar sound of music. Research from scientists has shown that babies can remember melodies they have heard in the womb even a month after they are born – so make sure you continue this regular exposure to music as familiar melodies will also become a source of comfort and security for your little one – and what better time that Christmas to fill your home with festive song!

Stick with tradition
It’s no great coincidence that popular nursery rhymes are quite repetitive – think about ‘Row, row, row your boat’ or ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little, star’ – and popular children’s Christmas songs are no exception – ‘Jingle Bells, jingle bells’ or ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ and even ‘Little Donkey’ all contain elements of repetition.  This is important, even in your baby’s first year because it is the foundation of linguistic building blocks upon which little brains can start to make meaningful associations and melodic experimentations via simple rhythmic patterns.  So, why not indulge in a spot of carol singing this year whether you are participating or simply listening in?

Rocking around the Christmas tree
Whether your baby is very young or a little older and has started to crawl or walk, you can judge how to get your baby involved in movement to a degree that suits their current stage of development.  But no matter what age, try to ensure that any exposure to music is also accompanied with movement where possible (even if it is you doing most of the moving!)  You’ll recall how many nursery rhymes come complete with a set of ‘actions’ ‘I’m a little teapot’ or ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ for example – try to clap, sing and move to music this Christmas time – you’ll delight your baby and as children can express themselves through movement long before they can verbalise it’s another great way to help them develop – whether that means developing a sense of balance, coordination or even just a boost to encourage them to learn to clap or smile – it all helps.

Sights and sounds of Christmas
If nothing else, Christmas is the perfect season to accompany your song time with an abundance of visual wonder!  From pretty Christmas trees, reflective baubles, glistening tinsel, to sparkly lights and snow globes, this time of year is great for bright and colourful visuals.  Maybe you and your baby could get creative with music time and shake your tinsel along to the music or jingle some sleigh bells.  These activities will all help to stimulate your baby’s brain allowing them to experience new sights, textures and sounds in a fun and exciting way.

Baah Humbug!
Don’t be put off of singing to your baby if you think you can’t sing or that you often sing out of tune.  Remember, you are not auditioning for The X-Factor, there is no judging panel keeping score – it’s just you and your little one as long as you are enthusiastic, your baby will love it too!

By Caroline Crabbe, General Manager at Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com)   
About Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com)Jo Jingles provides music, singing and movement experience classes for babies and pre-school children from three months to five years of age.  With nationwide sessions in more than 700 centres across the UK and Ireland and with over 90 franchisees, Jo Jingles offers well-established, structured classes that are fun, interactive and educational for little ones.

Launched in 1991, Jo Jingles continues to promote learning through music across many of the UK’s nurseries, Sure Start Children’s Centres, playgroups and mother & toddler groups. Jo Jingles Birthday parties and celebrations are also available to book and a range of musical-themed merchandise including toys, CDs and musical instruments can be purchased online at www.jojingles.com.

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