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Your baby can hear before he's even entered the outside world. In fact, his hearing is almost fully developed by the time he's born.
Babies use the sense of hearing to take in an enormous amount of information about the world. Find out how they use their keen ears to learn language and develop listening and other communication skills – and how the ability to hear stimulates baby development.
Talk to your bump
Baby hearing starts to develop between 23 weeks and 27 weeks of pregnancy. To begin with, your baby will mostly hear your heartbeat, the rumbling of your stomach, and the sound of your voice as you go about your day.
Newborn voice recognition
Babies are primed for bonding with their family by their ability to hear. In utero, they hear sounds in the outside world and start getting to know them. They already know and love their mother's voice when they're born, and are even familiar with the voices of other people in their family, such as siblings.
It'll come naturally to you to put your face close to your baby's. Your baby will love it if you speak in a high-pitched voice and pause for him to take his turn. All of this helps his early understanding of speech. Soon your baby will hold your gaze, squirm, coo, and gurgle a conversation with you.
Newborns actually sleep better in a noisy environment simply because it's what they're accustomed to. The womb is not the quiet place you might imagine.
During pregnancy, the flow of Mom's blood makes a shushing sound louder than a vacuum cleaner, according to pediatrician Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block. Similar loud, rumbly noises can calm and relax your baby after birth, too: the hum of a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner, or the steady rhythm of a washing machine or dryer.
Find out more about the Happiest Baby method of sleep and soothing.
The power of babble
Cooing and repeating vowel sounds like ahh and ooh may be happening by about 2 months of age, and babbling is typically your baby's language by around 4 months. Babble back! It encourages her to try to talk more, and she'll love hearing to the sounds you're making.
Reading to your baby
It's never too soon to get into the soothing and nurturing ritual of reading to your baby. He won't understand what you're saying or follow a story yet, of course. But just hearing your voice teaches him to pay attention to sounds and helps him develop listening skills. Story time is also a chance to cuddle and bond with your child – now and for years to come.
At 5 to 6 months, your baby may practice intonation by making her voice rise and fall, often in response to baby talk and your facial expressions. She may make all kinds of funny sounds as she tests out the sounds she can make using her tongue, teeth, palate, and vocal cords. She's also likely to start making consonant sounds like "b" or "m."
Where is it?
At 6 months or 7 months your baby will realize where sounds come from and turn quickly toward new ones. You may notice your baby listening and responding more intently to the sounds you make and trying to copy them. His comprehension is growing by leaps and bounds – even if he can only babble in return. Prepare to have pretend conversations in which you take turns "talking."
Once your little one's old enough to explore the idea of cause and effect, he'll love creating new sounds by bashing pots and pans. He may enjoy playing the xylophone or drums when he's 10 months or older. You can stimulate your baby's hearing and listening skills by demonstrating different sounds and how to make them.
As your baby gets older, you'll notice that he develops a taste for certain sounds. He'll begin to know what he does and doesn't like. For example, he may love wind chimes but hate more brash sounds like pots being banged together. Pay attention to what he likes and indulge him often with the sounds that give him the most pleasure.