We started attending a baby music group at our local music school, and our group happens to be lead by their music therapy department! (MusicWorks NW) One of the activities that we do is “Intentional Touch” where we are massaging our babies/toddlers while singing a slow song (think lullabies). Who doesn’t love a massage?
While I have given my son massage before while singing, it was so magical to watch him melt into the floor and relax while all of us moms and MT sang along to You Are My Sunshine and Edelweiss. Actually all the kids relaxed and calmed. I think us moms felt relaxed too!
To do “Intentional Touch” with music with your baby or toddler: Slow and smooth strokes in a heart shape on baby’s chest, slow squeezes down each arm to the hands, and each leg to the feet. Try to make your movements match the beat or rhythm of the song you are signing. Lullabies are the best.
Massage is a great way to get your baby going in the morning (wake up the senses) or to relax and calm down before quiet time or sleep. If you want to get your baby going try a more upbeat song or rhyme but keep the touch gentle. For relaxation, stick with slower songs.
Another great way to use music to relax or prepare for bedtime is to create a playlist for your little one to play for 30 minutes before bed, or once they get in bed as they are relaxing and falling asleep. I have a Relax and Unwind playlist that I put on for my son, with a sleep timer to go off in 30 or 60 minutes, being sure to keep the volume low. (I also keep the iPod player on the other side of the room for safety – so he can’t grab it and to keep the radio frequencies or any harmful radiation that might be emitted.)
I created this playlist using the iso principle (matching the rhythm of the activity and using music to slow down or speed up to the desired level of activity). The first few songs are a little faster and each song gets a little slower and a little more simplified. Most of the songs in my list are instrumental though I do have two Enya songs with soft singing. Some songs have nature sounds, some are just piano, some are more orchestral. This playlist really helps to slow down the heart rate as well as cue that its time to sleep.
How do you use music for relaxation with your baby or toddler? Share with us!
To learn more about music with young children visit our website.