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What's It Like in the Womb?

What's it Like in the Womb?
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Look Who's Listening continued...

Much has been made of the benefits of playing classical music to children because it supposedly enhances spatial development. Why not, some speculate, do the same for the unborn child?

Indeed, fetuses breathe in time to music they enjoy, according to Dr. Rene Van de Carr, a California OB-Gyn who teaches parents how to stimulate unborn babies through music and other exercises at the Prenatal University in Hayward, Calif. He is also author of "While You're Expecting ... Your Own Prenatal Classroom."

Dr. Van de Carr claims such aural stimulation not only increases neural connections in the brain and enhances brain growth, but encourages parents to be more attentive and interactive and sets expectations for achievement later on. He suggests expectant parents stimulate their babies for about five to 10 minutes twice a day. The key is not to get too repetitive with any one activity or the baby will tune it out, he says.

Yet much of the hullabaloo over the so-called Mozart effect has been exaggerated, says Janet DiPietro, a developmental psychologist who studies fetal development at Johns Hopkins University. The research has been done primarily on adults, and the only children that have been studied were 3- and 4-year-olds, who were actually playing the music on keyboards rather than simply listening to it.

And many experts say the jury's still out on whether it's in-utero interventions -- or simply genetics and a nurturing environment after birth -- that make your baby smarter, more musically inclined or better adjusted.

"I tell people that if they like classical music then play it, but if they don't, then don't," says DiPietro. "It think it's irrelevant to the fetus, unless the mom likes to come home, put her feet up and turn on music that's relaxing to her. That's the way the baby gets the effect."

Get Those Brussels Sprouts Outta Here

Your baby's sense of touch begins to develop early in pregnancy as it explores the uterine wall, umbilical cord and even its own body parts, spending the most time touching its face. As early as the ninth week, your baby will respond when its lips or areas around the mouth are touched. By the eighth month, it moves towards the source with mouth open, the beginnings of the rooting reflex, which the baby needs to begin nursing and sucking on a bottle after birth.

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