"Don't make me just sit here"I was a hopelessly inexperienced mom with my firstborn, and I handled Brendan with great care, almost always cradled in both arms, worried I might bend him the wrong way. My mother-in-law, Bernice, had no such worries. She'd raised eight kids of her own and already had 13 grandchildren, with more on the way. I remember handing Brendan off to her when he was fussy and watching with fascination as she moved his little body fearlessly -- stretching him out on the kitchen table to have a good look at him, sitting him up straight so they could be eye to eye, and finally, after this assessment, laying him facedown across both her knees and jiggling him from side to side, much to his delight. Babies adore opportunities to feel the full range of their small bodies, says Helen Garabedian, author of Itsy Bitsy Yoga and mom of a toddler. In the yoga classes she teaches, moms help their babies stretch and move their arms and legs. Invariably, she says, the babies are alert and content during and after the exercises.
"Sing to me!"
Calynne Brockway, a nurse in Cooperstown, New York, started singing to charm, soothe, amuse, and connect with each of her four children before they were even born. Most recently, her main audience is her 10-month-old daughter, Aleigha. Her kids have been treated to melodies ranging from "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" to "Get the Party Started," with a song for every mood or special occasion.
Singing to your baby is more than just entertainment: Exposure to music may benefit a child's mind and accelerate early language development. What your baby loves about your singing, though, is the sound of your voice, the flow of a melody, and the unique attention she gets when you croon just for her. The music you sing may help you tap into your baby's emotions, whether she's feeling relaxed or silly. She doesn't care if you can't carry a tune, either: Your voice is still the sweetest sound.