If you're more than 18 weeks along in your pregnancy, chances are your baby can hear you. By week 23, babies can even respond to noise, according to William Fifer, PhD, professor of medical psychology at Columbia University. It's great if you want to celebrate your baby's development by playing a few tunes — but there are a few things to know before you queue up Spotify.
Sadly, research does not support the claim that playing classical music makes your baby smarter (otherwise known as the "Mozart effect"). And the study that suggested that in the first place only looked at 36 people. Dr. Fifer says there's no reason to believe that playing music for your unborn baby will put them at any kind of advantage later on.
Of course, that doesn't mean you should specifically avoid music. Dr. Fifer says infants may enjoy hearing music while in the womb, and music can certainly relax the mother, too. So don't feel like you need to go out of your way to listen to more or less music during your pregnancy — as Dr. Fifer puts it, "Don’t mess with mother nature."
Until more research is done, you can at least take comfort in the fact that prenatal exposure to music won't hurt your baby. "The baby in the womb is well buffered from typical environmental noises," Dr. Fifer says. Just be aware of the volume level before you hit "play," and despite the plethora of stock photos that would suggest otherwise, Dr. Fifer says it's a bad idea to put headphones directly on your belly (since the high volume and the sound vibrations could cause unnecessary external stimulation).
And for the record: Doctors say to put on Bach or Beethoven only if you enjoy classical music. Otherwise, go with your favorite genre of music, or just pick some chill songs you'd want to hear while relaxing on the couch. Keep in mind that Dr. Fifer says to avoid playing music too loudly while you sleep.
Below, we've put together our own take on what we're calling the womb tune playlist, starting with some fun, kicky electronica and closing with a few truly mellow ambient tracks.