When Can My Baby Hear Me?

It is quite natural to have the urge to speak to the baby growing in your womb. Some mums-to-be even read stories and sing lullabies – others try music therapy to help boost brain development of a growing baby. Sometimes, both parents communicate with the baby and believe that their baby is listening to them. And parents often have questions about when their baby can actually hear their voice. Is it really possible for sound to travel from outside of your body to the inside?

When Can My Baby Hear Me?

While you may want to communicate with your baby as soon as you are pregnant, your baby cannot hear any voice until you are five months pregnant. That is mainly because your baby's ears and earlobes start to form when you are eight weeks pregnant, but they cannot pick up any sound three months after the development of ears.

Your baby may be able to hear your voice when you are about eighteen weeks into your pregnancy. However, your baby's ears become fully functional by the start of your third trimester. This is when they can pick most of the sounds from the outside world.

A Timeline of Hearing Development

Your baby's ears and eyes start forming during week-4 and week-5 of your pregnancy. At this stage in your pregnancy, the cells inside your developing baby begin arranging themselves into what will become the brain, face, eyes, nose, and ears. At about 9 weeks, little indentations appear in the side of your baby's neck, which begin moving upward to become your baby's ears.

When can my baby hear me? Well, your baby is more likely to hear her very first sound by 18 weeks of pregnancy. At this stage, those little ears develop rapidly and, by 24 weeks, become more sensitive to sounds. Your baby usually starts hearing the sounds of your body first – you do not even notice these noises actually. These sounds include your heartbeat, your growling stomach, air moving in and out of your lungs, and even the sound of your blood circulation.

When Will My Baby Respond to My Voice?

While your baby starts hearing sounds of your body quite early during pregnancy, it still takes quite some time for them to hear your voice. Most babies show response to noise and voices by week 25 or 26.

However, studies show that those noises coming from outside of the womb are not that loud. In fact, the absence of air in the uterus mutes those voices by half. These sounds become more muffled mainly because your baby has amniotic fluid around her/him along with layers of your body. Nevertheless, your baby can hear your voice more clearly by third trimester. She/he can recognize it and may respond with an increased heartbeat.

Your baby becomes more sensitive to your voice as she/he continues to grow, but another reason she can hear your voice clearly is that the sound becomes amplified after reverberating through your bones. It means that reading out loud, singing lullabies, and carrying on conversations can have an effect on your baby – they show greater alertness through an increased heart rate.

What Does It Sound Like in There?

Any sound can travel better through open space – that is why you can hear sound better in an open field than hearing it underwater in a pool. It means that even though your baby can hear and identify your voice do not expect him/her to have a clear understanding of what you are saying.

So, exactly how does it sound like in the womb? To get an idea, put your hand over your mouth and ask your partner to do the same. Now have a conversation. That is how your voices feel like in the womb. By speaking in this manner, you can identify tones of a sentence but you might fail to understand some words. That is exactly how it is with your baby in the womb.

Anything You Can Do?

When can my baby hear me? Knowing the answer is important because it encourages you to talk to your baby, which in turn ensures its hearing develops normally.

1. Continue Talking with Your Baby

Know that your baby's hearing continue to develop all the time and carrying out a conversation will definitely help. She/he can hear the sound of your heartbeat from 23 weeks, and that is exactly the time when she/he will become responsive to the sounds from the outside world. By making her/him hear your voice, you can develop a connection with her/him. That is the reason why your baby becomes too attached to you as soon as she/he hears your voice after birth. Therefore, it really makes sense to talk and sign to your baby while she/he is still in the womb. Do not stop even it sounds a bit weird in the beginning.

2. Avoid Prolonged Noises

You should spend time talking to your growing baby, but it is important to understand how much is too much. You should not expose your baby to prolonged loud noises. Overexposure to noise can cause developmental damage and even lead to hearing loss in growing babies, especially when the noise is loud, repeated, and prolonged. So, take necessary steps to lower this risk.

3. Try Classical Music

It is an old wives' tale that your baby will become smarter if you expose her/him to classical music before birth. They call it the "Mozart effect". While there is no scientific evidence to back this claim, it never hurts to try it for some time. 

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