Insights from Marie Van Gend

  • Marie Van Gend

Well what an amazing couple of weeks it has been! The Lullaby:The First Steps podcast has had literally thousands of downloads, and I have been getting such lovely videos and stories from people who are listening to it. Here is one of my favourite:

'I just wanted to message you to congratulate you on ‘Lullaby’. I am 18 weeks pregnant and just absolutely love this podcast. I’ve been listening a lot to classical music but hearing you speak about the power of my own voice to my baby has made me think more deeply than simply having music in the background. A big thank you for a wonderful innovation. It has made me very emotional (I’m yet to get through “good night baby” without tears) but so empowered and in touch with my baby, who is not even with us yet! Thank you for highlighting the importance of music, for all of us and making it accessible to all, no matter what our abilities. All the best with the venture, baby and I will be listening.'

As well as people who are singing to their babies, I have someone who uses the podcast to calm their dog! People are using them with their toddlers and then sending videos of them singing. It seems the favourite for that age group is hushabye, hushabye. I even have past students listening to them to go to sleep.

The Radio National interview has opened up some great new contacts and it looks like we have some opportunities for linking into maternity wards. I will keep you posted.

I would love to hear how you are finding the podcast and what you and your baby are getting out of it. If you have some favourites that you'd like to share please do! Just post in the comments below or on our facebook page

Thank you for being part of this adventure.

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  • Marie Van Gend

Well what an exciting day it has been. The podcast has been released to the world and it is being taken up all over the place. Yay! As well as that I had a chance to share the news about it on Radio National, Life Matters this morning. Hilary asked some excellent and quite challenging questions but I think I winged my way through OK. You can listen to it here

Huge thanks to Radio National for giving me this platform.

I hope you have subscribed to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or whichever provider you use. Subscriptions really help with the distribution.

I have called this blog Launch Time - but that has also made me think of "time" in relation to babies and lullabies. One of the hardest adjustments for new parents (and I remember this well) is how little you achieve in a day/ hour when a baby suddenly arrives in your life. How can one small person consume so much time? It is particularly hard for people who have transitioned from a high powered high achieving job to suddenly feel as if the only thing they have achieved in a day is brushing their hair. So often we gain our sense of value from what we "achieve" in the world we inhabit - and that can completely go out the door with a baby.

So how does this relate to lullabies? I spoke at an ante natal class a couple of weeks ago, and we were discussing whether they planned to sing lullabies or use technology instead. Several mothers said that "lullabies take up so much time" that they'd rather use a device so that they could get some jobs done. I get it, but it misses the point, really. Yes, lullabies do take time, but it is one of the closest, most critical and valuable uses of your time. It is far more important than tidying the house or cooking dinner. This is the time you will be closest to your baby, the time when you will develop communication and also an incredibly important time for your OWN mental health as singing will sooth and relax you. Research has shown that lullabies sung by mothers and fathers result in better sleep patterns - so you may well get time back as your baby sleeps more. It takes time, but it is time you will never regret giving.

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  • Marie Van Gend

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Why did I start the Lullaby:The First Steps podcast? You can thank my niece. She has beautiful twin girls, and when they were a few months old she came to visit me. When she arrived, she mentioned that she would love me to sing to them (as I had done to her as a child). I asked her what she sang to them already, and she said that she didn't really and that they used a Spotify playlist to put the babies to sleep. That got me thinking. Was this a thing now? Had people stopped singing to their babies and was that important?

I was in the middle of writing my PhD thesis at the time, so very much in research mode. I started reading and the more I read the more I realised that yes, this was a thing, and yes it was an important thing to change. Research shows that singing to your baby has positive effects on their settling, their bonding and their speech development. It also has positive effects on the parents' and has been used effectively to help mothers suffering from post-natal depression. Dr Anita Collins' book, The Lullaby Effect is a fantastic resource and summary of these benefits.

So, the evidence is there, so why has their been such a trend away from singing to babies? I believe it is due to three things

1. Access to technology and free online music such as spotify

2. Fear of singing

3. People not knowing nursery rhymes - and having less contact with older generations who would usually pass them on.

I have been teaching choirs for over 20 years, so am very aware of singing anxiety and how much our culture has lost the sense that singing is a normal and natural thing. The competitive TV shows such as the "got talent" shows and The Voice have not helped.

The thing is, your baby doesn't care if you can't sing in tune or if your voice is not perfect. It is your voice, it is familiar and it makes them secure in the crazy noisy world they are born into. Lullaby:The First Steps is just me, talking to you and teaching you a new, simple lullaby to sing to your baby. It is for mums, dads, grandparents, midwives, early childhood teachers or anyone who hangs out with newborns. It is hopefully the first step towards turning people back towards the beautiful thing that is singing to their babies.

#lullaby #firststeps #singtoyourbaby

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