Singing at mealtime
Welcome to Part 3 in the Babbu mealtimes series!
The importance of singing
Your little one loves hearing your calm and gentle voice, and singing to your little one is a reassuring and wonderful way to develop the bond and attachment between you and your baby. This special time for bonding does wonders for their personal, social and emotional development.
Did you know that singing reduces your baby's heart rate, anxiety and generates endorphins which can help with discomfort? As your little one hears songs and rhymes, it can help them develop neural connections to calm down and relax, which is especially crucial during the early months of life when their brain pathways are developing.
Nursery rhymes and songs allow your little one to understand how words are formed and the opportunity to learn about different beats and rhythms. These strategies help your baby recognise patterns and encounter different word sounds, which aids in their literacy and mathematical areas of learning.
Always ensure that you are supervising your little one when eating to avoid choking.
How singing can make mealtimes memorable
We know that from time to time, mealtimes can get rather busy and quite loud. It is essential that your child has a positive experience with food so that they develop a good relationship with it at a young age. There are many different ways that you can engage your little one at mealtimes, so here are a few:
Allow your little one to bring their favourite toy to sit next to them at the table. Your little one may love to see you make their best cuddly bear move along to a song. If you want to involve their other toys, you could say “I think Bear wants to eat one of your crackers!”. Role-play situations such as these help your baby develop their imagination and utilise their creative thinking skills. In addition, you will be supporting their language and communication skills as they hear new words which extend their vocabulary.
You can sing their favourite song during mealtimes which is a perfect way to make it more memorable. If you’re feeling super creative, you could make up a song about the food they’re eating, such as “Apples are from the tree, they’re red, big and round”.
This is a fantastic opportunity since it allows them to start using cognitive skills, such as critical thinking to create connections between the song you're singing and the food they’re eating. When they’ve grown up a little, you can look back at and remember together the ridiculous and funny song that you made up!
How songs can support learning through mealtimes
Songs are brilliant for your little one to enjoy, but not only are they fun, they can be educational too. Songs often contain rhyming and repetitive words and can be based on a range of topics, such as food or animals. Examples of these include ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’, ‘5 Little Ducks’ and ‘The Muffin Man’.
As your baby eats, it is a good idea to choose slow-paced and low pitched tunes to sing instead of upbeat and quick songs which are less likely to distract your baby. Simple songs that involve actions are ideal for teaching your little one simple actions and to help them develop their nonverbal communication skills.
For example, ‘Pat-a-cake’ is a simple and short song which involves both clapping and actions to demonstrate baking and putting the cake in the oven. Action songs are fantastic to help your little one develop their fine-motor skills (physical development) and hand-eye coordination when making movements such as clapping.
When you engage and sing to your baby during mealtimes, you are supporting their listening skills. This is a crucial skill to develop, as your little one needs to be aware of their surroundings and be able to follow instructions, especially when in an environment which poses risks e.g. a road.
Some songs around food include early counting which is a fantastic way to introduce numbers and quantities to your little one in a fun and exciting way. For example, a few popular food-themed counting songs are ‘Five Currant Buns’, ‘One Potato, Two Potato’.
As you prepare their food, you could count aloud the number of carrot sticks you are putting on their plate, and do so in a sing-song voice. These examples will help support your little one’s mathematical knowledge and understanding of how numbers sound aloud.
Your baby may love to hear silly songs such as ‘On Top of Spaghetti’ or a more action-based song like ‘Jelly on the Plate’. You can sing about what you are doing to keep your little one engaged in the food process, for example, “I’m washing the tomato, wash, wash, wash, drying it off, dry, dry, dry!”.
Babbu is the UK’s first online nursery™ designed to support, reassure and empower parents and their children in the first critical few years. We provide tailored educational activities and content to support parents, at home – our aim is to make Early Years Education easy, accessible and fun |