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Fetus learns intonation of Mother’s Language

MOMents By November 14, 2009 Tags: , , No Comments

Repost from a news article from BabyCenter


Fetus Learns Intonations of Mother’s Language

Thu, Nov 5, 2009 (HealthDay News) — Infants who are just a few days old cry with intonation patterns that reflect the language spoken by their parents, new research shows.

The conclusion drawn by German researchers is that fetuses are listening closely to their mothers during the last trimester of pregnancy, laying the groundwork for learning language even before they’re born.

By analyzing the sounds of newborn cries, researchers found distinct differences in the intonation patterns of German and French newborns. Put another way, German babies cried in a recognizably “German” way, while French newborns were decidedly “French” in their crying patterns, according to the study published in the Nov. 5 online edition of Current Biology…

…Sorry, Dad. Most of the influence is probably coming from mom, DiPietro said. Even though the fetus can hear their father’s voice — in fact, deeper-pitched sounds such as the male voice travel better through the abdomen than higher-pitched female voices — the mother’s voice is also transmitted internally, through the vibration of her vocal cords.

“We know that the maternal voice is the most salient external stimulus to the fetus,” DiPietro said.

German researchers recorded the cries of 60 newborns born to either French- or German-speaking parents. The babies were three to five days old.

A sound pattern analysis revealed unmistakable differences in the newborns’ “cry melodies.” While French newborns tended to cry with a rising (low to high) contour, German newborns had a falling (high to low) inflection.

The patterns are consistent with the inflection patterns of the two languages, according to the study. French is characterized by a rising pitch toward the end of words and many phrases, while German is marked by falling pitches.

Previous research has shown fetuses are able to form memories in the womb that are important for early learning, said Kenneth Gerhardt, a professor of audiology and senior associate dean of the graduate school of the University of Florida.

A prior study noted a change in fetal heart rate when listening to a familiar voice. Shortly after birth, other studies have shown babies are more attentive to their mother’s voice than other voices, supporting the idea that the fetus develops memories of the maternal voice in utero.

“This is a valid study and a clever way to look at the memories that are formed in utero,” Gerhardt said. “The researchers are correct in stating these memories probably occur at the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy. It’s at that point in time the auditory system just begins to respond to acoustic signals.”

Earlier studies have shown 12-week-old infants can mimic the vowel sounds of adult speakers. But younger babies don’t yet have the muscle coordination to produce the level of vocal control necessary to do that, according to the study.

Mimicking melody contour is simpler.

“Imitation of melody contour, in contrast, is merely predicated upon well-coordinated respiratory-laryngeal mechanisms and is not constrained by articulatory immaturity,” the researchers wrote. “Newborns are probably highly motivated to imitate their mother’s behavior in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding.”

The concept that fetuses can learn does not support playing classical music for your unborn child or the use of “fetal learning systems,” which are marketed as a way to give babies a head start by playing certain sounds through the abdomen.

“We have known for some time the fetus is capable of some learning, but it doesn’t mean you should teach them stuff,”it’s a terrible idea to put speakers on your abdomen and play stimuli to your fetus. There is no evidence they work, and we would guess they could even harm development by disrupting fetal sleep.” DiPietro said. “That’s the leap people make. But among all of us that do fetal research, we are unanimous that

— Jennifer Thomas

Click here to read the full article.

For my part, I just really had to laugh at that part where the fetal researchers unanimously say that its a terrible idea to teach your unborn baby stuff, that sure, they are capable of learning but it doesn’t mean you have to put speakers on your abdomen to give them a head start on learning. Tsk tsk.

Though I played a lot of classical music too when I was pregnant and slept through it during the day. I love classical music. 😉 There are certain operas that I absolutely love! Can’t fault me on that. I still used to play classical music while the baby slept when she was so much younger. Now it only wakes her up and disrupts her sleep so I only try to play it during play time. Most times though she listens to whatever it is I listen to and lately those are just anything from Jason Mraz, Damien Rice, Bat for Lashes, Iron and Wine, Tori Amos, Katy Perry, Lilly Allen to True Blood OST.

At the end of it all, I still say it’s so nice to be a mom. The babies are closer to their mothers but that’s just because we work so much harder than the fathers. From carrying them for 36-40 weeks to giving birth to breastfeeding, up to caring for them when they’re sick, teaching them how to walk and talk and be on their own. These days I’m so cranky because the baby sleeps really early like six thirty or seven in the evening and wakes up at three or four in the morning and I have to be the one to take care of her since my husband is very specific about having a good night’s sleep. 😐 Some days I get to sleep at six in the morning! No, some days (or weeks) I do the taking care of the baby all by myself!! Not too happy about that, really, I’m not.


Expecting Milestones

MOMents By November 12, 2009 Tags: , , , 1 Comment

It’s been some time since I wrote about the baby. I suppose I have good reason to write about it today. This week I am an ecstatic mom. I do not get on the BabyCenter site everyday. Sometimes only once a week or sometimes only when they send me a news article that I find interesting. This week though I decided to check on the milestones chart.

This is the table for the 1st to 6th months.

Child’s Age

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
1 month Lifts head when lying on tummy
Responds to sound
Stares at faces
• Follows objects briefly with eyes
• Vocalizes: oohs and aahs
• Can see black-and-white patterns
Smiles, laughs
• Holds head at 45-degree angle
2 months • Vocalizes: gurgles and coos
• Follows objects across field of vision
• Notices his hands
Holds head up for short periods
Smiles, laughs
• Holds head at 45-degree angle
• Makes smoother movements
Holds head steady
• Can bear weight on legs
• Lifts head and shoulders when lying on tummy (mini-pushup)
3 months Recognizes your face and scent
Holds head steady
• Visually tracks moving objects
• Squeals, gurgles, coos
• Blows bubbles
• Recognizes your voice
• Does mini-pushup
Rolls over, from tummy to back
• Turns toward loud sounds
• Can bring hands together, bats at toys
4 months Smiles, laughs
• Can bear weight on legs
• Coos when you talk to him
• Can grasp a toy
Rolls over, from tummy to back
Imitates sounds: “baba,” “dada”
Cuts first tooth
• May be ready for solid foods
5 months Distinguishes between bold colors
• Plays with his hands and feet
• Recognizes own name
Turns toward new sounds
Rolls over in both directions
• Sits momentarily without support
• Mouths objects
Separation anxiety may begin
6 months • Turns toward sounds and voices
Imitates sounds
Rolls over in both directions
Is ready for solid foods
• Sits without support
• Mouths objects
• Passes objects from hand to hand
• Lunges forward or starts crawling
Jabbers or combines syllables
Drags objects toward himself

I must admit I have never really looked at this before today.

I read the “What To Expect The First Year” book that my sister Jasmin lent me every now and then but do not make a text book out of it. Unlike what I did with “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” that my sister Girlie lent me. I probably read that everyday!

My baby was smiling on the first day of her life, though I read that was not really a real social smile. I’ve got the photos to prove it nevertheless. In her first month alone, she could recognize my face, my voice and my scent; she could lift her head. On her second month, she would turn away from her nursing every time she heard a new sound and would turn to look at me afterwards as if in question, “What was that Mama?” She always wanted the sounds to be explained. She started crawling towards the end of her third month. We started her on solids, the first week of her sixth month, upon instructions of her pediatricians. I am not sure if she ever had stranger anxiety or that is yet to come. I know though that she always looks at me first before going with anyone else, as if asking permission. She so cute like that.

This is her first week of her seventh month. This is the chart for that.

Child’s Age
Mastered Skills (most kids can do)

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
7 months Sits without support
Drags objects toward herself
• Lunges forward or starts crawling
Jabbers or combines syllables
• Starts to experience stranger anxiety
• Waves goodbye
Stands while holding onto something
• Bangs objects together
• Begins to understand object permanence
8 months • Says “mama” and “dada” to both parents (isn’t specific)
• Passes objects from hand to hand
Stands while holding onto something
• Points at objects
• Searches for hidden objects
• Pulls self to standing, cruises
• Picks things up with thumb-finger pincer grasp
• Indicates wants with gestures
9 months Stands while holding onto something
Jabbers or combines syllables
• Understands object permanence
Cruises while holding onto furniture
• Drinks from a sippy cup
Eats with fingers
• Bangs objects together
• Plays patty-cake and peek-a-boo
• Says “mama” and “dada” to the correct parent
10 months • Waves goodbye
• Picks things up with pincer grasp
Crawls well, with belly off the ground
• Says “mama” and “dada” to the correct parent
• Indicates wants with gestures
Stands alone for a couple of seconds
• Puts objects into a container
11 months • Says “mama” and “dada” to the correct parent
• Plays patty-cake and peek-a-boo
Stands alone for a couple of seconds
Understands “no” and simple instructions
• Puts objects into a container
• Says one word besides “mama” and “dada”
• Stoops from standing position
12 months Imitates others’ activities
• Indicates wants with gestures
• Takes a few steps
• Says one word besides “mama” and “dada”
Walks alone
Scribbles with a crayon
• Says two words besides “mama” and “dada”

I am an ecstatic mom because these are the things she can do:
– sit without support
– pull herself to standing
– crawl really well with belly off the ground, on her hand and knees
– stand for long periods of time while holding on to something
– stand without holding on to anything for a few seconds
– drag objects towards her
– object when a toy is taken away from her
– indicate with gestures what she wants and does not want
– pass objects from hand to hand
– bang objects together (oh my poor eyeglasses always falls victim to this)
– pick things up with her thumb and finger.. and then when she drops something, she looks for it where she dropped it
– she understands object permanence as she looks for me behind pillows or under blankets when I’m hiding. She knows I’m there because she can smell me.
– coo, gurgle and babble. She even now has a language for when she wants to nurse, like “bab bab bab” or when she wants milk, which sounds like “ilk” though I do not want to believe it.
– she cries out for me with a distinct “Maaaaaaa!”

And the main reason why I’m posting this is, I was really ecstatic when three days ago, as i was on my way out the gate on the way to U.P., she waved goodbye at me.

Being a mom is just really exciting. I love being a mom. I’m very lucky I get the privilege of staying at home with her to watch her and take care of her. Sure it prevents me from doing so many other things, like travel or go to school or do my theatre prod work – but the other night, I was going through the many, many photos of her we took and I was just overwhelmed with how wonderful the past months have been and how fast it went by.

I would always miss those times when she did nothing but eat and sleep and poop. When it was just the two of us all day at home and she was attached to me, literally, almost all the fr*ckin time. I love love it when they’re so tiny like that. Sometimes when she wouldn’t stop playing and I’m just exhausted, I can’t help but miss those first two months. The first two months were really bliss! Though now her smiles and laughter and all the many facial expressions she can make makes up for it. We fondly call her Kulitski sometimes. She is my little angku.

I’m not really hoping for anything. I am not hoping she would be gifted. If anything, I only ask she be normal and well-balanced. I’m not really anxious about her development, I am just really happily surprised today to learn that she has had so many milestones.

I remember talking to Meh (of Matilda) one time about our daughters. Hers is five and she said she misses those times when her daughter was just a baby and every week there was a new milestone. A new milestone almost every week indeed. I am just really amazed at everything.

I find it amazing that babies concentrate on mastering one skill at a time before moving on to another skill. How I wish we carry that attitude into adulthood! That we finish our projects and what-haves before moving on to another and not leaving a string of unfinished projects behind. Focus, focus, focus! I think being labeled, “jack-of-all-trades-master-of-nothing” is certainly far from being a compliment.

I am not hoping for a gifted child. I just want at least an I.Q. of 115, which is what we read in Malcolm Gladwell‘s Outliers. Furthermore, I saw this feature on Bio channel about gifted kids. One of them was being home-schooled and the mother said, “Homeschooling is like breastfeeding. It’s a HUGE time commitment,” and I just related to that! I remember how tedious it was when I was exclusively breastfeeding my newborn. Breastfed babies nurse for at least thirty to forty-five minutes and you can never tell how much milk they’ve had because you don’t get to measure. You can never tell when the baby is going to get hungry again and want to nurse again. I remember hours would pass me by and she would just simply stay attached. There were nights when my back hurt and my arms were sore from trying to accommodate her position as we both slept.

I actually have plans of home-schooling her; but just as in any plan, it is just a plan. It will depend on the need. If I see that she will benefit more from having constant interaction with other children and she learns as much as she can from the school, why not let her stay in school? If I see that she will benefit more from traveling with me and her father, from tagging along with us as we do our various endeavors, and I have that required four hours everyday for homeschooling and she gets to learn as much as she can, why not home-school? It is quite early to be thinking about home-schooling now though. She has not even turned one.

I do believe a gifted child is not unlike a special child. Lots of nurture needed. I am not hoping for a gifted child. I am fine with her having my I.Q. – which is not 115 but is good enough. 😛