Music to promote early language

Katy Mitchell. With thanks to Nicole Da Rocha for her support and advice.| View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Listening in the womb

Listening starts in the womb.

Studies have shown that listening starts as early as 16 weeks gestation when the baby responds to its mother's voice (Shahidullah & Hepper, 1992). At 24 weeks gestation the bones of the middle ear are fully formed and a baby's heart rate increases, and movements change, in response to music (Fridman, 2000). At 30 weeks a baby hears the rhythm and intonation of speech and can access some vowel sounds in the womb (Crystal, 2010). Babies have increased sucking rates for a poem that has been read to them numerous times before birth, compared to an unfamiliar poem (De Casper & Fifer, 1980).

This web page provides a summary about when babies hear in the womb.

In this video Dr. Ibrahim Baltagi talks about the importance of music before birth.




Arabin, B. (2002) 'Music during pregnancy'. Ultrasound Obstetrics Gynecology. 2002:20 pp. 425-430. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 16 April, 2021].

Arya,R., Chansoria, M., Konanki,R., Tiwari,D. (2012) 'Maternal Music Exposure during Pregnancy Influences Neonatal Behaviour: An Open-Label Randomized Controlled Trial'. International Journal of Pediatrics. Article ID 901812 [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 16 April, 2021].

Baltagi, I. (2019) How music affects your baby's brain: Mini Parenting Master Class UNICEF. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 16 April, 2021].

De Casper, A.J. & Fifer, W.P. (1980) 'Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mothers’ voices'  Science, New Series, Vol. 208, No. 4448 (June.6) pp.1174-1176. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 16 April, 2021].

Fridman, R. (2000) 'The Maternal Womb: The first musical school for the baby'  Journal of Pre-natal and Peri-natal Psychology and Health 15 (1) Fall 2000.

NHS Health Scotland (2011) Hearing and Listening in the womb. Available at:  [Accessed: 16 April, 2021].

Shahidullah, S. & Hepper, P. (1992) 'Hearing in the foetus: pre-natal detection of deafness'. International Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Studies. 4(3/4) pp. 235-240.