Have you ever noticed the way we speak to babies? Our baby-talk voices tend to be a lot more melodic than our natural speech patterns. And there’s a good reason for that! Music is more emotional.
Joining me today is a music therapist, psychotherapist and the founder of Baby In Tune, Vered. She and I discuss the power of our voice, how music can play an essential role in regulating our child’s nervous system, the importance of lullabies, and strategies for how music can defuse tense parenting moments.
I think that soothing methods can only work if it’s also soothing us at the same time. Otherwise it’s not gonna work because it might take a while for our baby to soothe. And the entire time they’re gonna be going, is she soothed? Is she stressed?
Dr. Sarah (00:20):
Our need for connection is a key driver of human behavior and motivation. And this begins the moment that we’re born. Now music is an incredibly effective and simple strategy for that connection and for fostering attachment. And in this episode, you’re gonna hear exactly why that is. I am so excited to be joined today by Vered, the founder of Baby In Tune. Vered is a mom, a music therapist, a psychotherapist, and award-winning musician. She perfectly blends all of this into her music classes to help parents learn how music can be a vehicle for understanding their baby and connecting more deeply. This episode is full of actionable tips you can start using with your child today, no matter how old they are, as well as a breakdown of how these strategies affect the brain and the body and why they work to help us calm ourselves as well as our child.
Dr. Sarah (01:22):
Do you sometimes feel that while you love parenthood, it’s also overwhelming, messy, confusing, and not always exactly what you thought it would be? Do you wish that you could stop worrying if you’re doing it right, and just feel confident trusting yourself? Let me clue you into one of the best kept secrets that I have discovered through my own clinical practice and my years as a mother. When you understand the basics of child development, psychology, and neurobiology, you are able to work with your child’s brain and body rather than fight against it. You develop a true sense of confidence and you feel in control knowing that you’re prepared to navigate whatever challenge parenthood might throw your way. And that is exactly why I created The Authentic Parent: Finding your confidence in your child’s first year. Whether you are a brand new parent, or maybe you’re thinking about how to approach a second or third child with a different set of skills. This six-week course will arm you with all the knowledge you need to feel grounded and confident in your parenting journey. Enrollment is limited. So make sure to sign up for the waitlist now. Go to my website, drsarahbren.com/tap to sign up and learn more. Let’s increase your confidence and help you create a strong parent-child relationship to use as your parenting compass. Don’t miss your chance to take part in The Authentic Parent and learn to confidently move through parenthood during your child’s first year.
Dr. Sarah (03:02):
Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah. Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast, I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.
Dr. Sarah (03:35):
Hi, I’m so excited to welcome to the podcast today the very talented Vered. She is an incredible musician. She makes music for families and kids and parents. And I’m a huge fan. We listen to her on repeat in our kitchen every morning. And I’m just so grateful for you to be here.
I am so excited because I’ve sung with you and your kids. And so I love that we’ve connected through that and professionally. So I’m so glad that you have this podcast and that I can be here with you.
Dr. Sarah (04:10):
Yes. It’s funny. Yeah. We’ve our paths have crossed multiple different times in life because I, when my son was born, I lived in Brooklyn. And that’s where your music of classes when they were all in person were originally happening.
Dr. Sarah (04:24):
And I I’d found you. And I was like, I really wanna take this music class cause I was so intrigued by your approach. It felt so different than like the mommy and me music classes that I had seen. And I wasn’t able to, I think cuz of like nap times or something, but like eventually I got to a place where I was able to take your music class with both my kids. Once you started offering it virtually. So…
Yeah, I know. I wish we had met in person in Brooklyn. That would’ve been amazing, but we did eventually connect and that was really good too. On zoom, when everyone moved to zoom.
Dr. Sarah (05:03):
I know. And in a weird way, like I would’ve loved to have it in person music class with you too, but almost the fact that it was available on zoom and like it made it so much more accessible and it was like really, like, it didn’t feel like there was anything lost in it. Like there was so much music even though, we weren’t with in a room altogether.
Yeah. I know. I, I found that those zoom classes were so meaningful. You know, just, and it surprised me cuz I was so scared to move to zoom, but it really did surprise me that people still wanted and found a way to connect to each other, to their babies. To me, it was, it was meaningful.
Dr. Sarah (05:47):
Yeah. And I only wish I could have done it when my son was a baby, because I was able to do Sadie was like 10 or 12 months. She was, might have been like almost, almost one year when I did it with, with, with you virtually. But I really wish I had done it when they were babies because I was in this class with moms who had babies and I was like, I get it. I get why this would be so valuable as the mom, like as the mom of a newborn need that connection. And, and so let’s help people get a little sense of like why, what you do is different. Why it’s a little bit unique because this is not a normal mommy and me baby music class.
Right, right. Okay. So I think, I think the uniqueness comes just as like an umbrella statement in that I’m trying to work on connection. Like you it’s really all about attachment. I’m very informed by attachment theory. I’ll talk about my education in a second, but I am trying to give parents ways to implement the theory through music through tone, rhythm ways to really understand and connect with your baby. It’s kind of like ways to have these moments during your day of connection. Cuz of course there are many non-connected moments that we all have that that are just inevitable of like I need to wash the dishes. I need to zone out. I need to call a friend. I need to, you know, feel angry at my baby. I need to just take a nap, whatever it is. There are plenty where we’re checked out, but I feel like my mission is to help the parent find their way to the baby, to connect and, and explain how that looks and like really tools for how to do it.
Dr. Sarah (07:41):
And you have a unique vantage point when it comes to introducing this way of connecting because you, yes, you are very talented musician, but you are also a therapist.
Right. So I started out so I was in the east village and I wanted to be a rock star. And so I was doing music at that time and I recorded a couple albums and then I went to study music therapy at NYU. It was kind of a way to support myself while I was, you know, on my rockstar track. And I ended up working at Bellevue in the psychiatric unit. I worked with kids. I worked with different populations at the time in addiction as well. And and then I got pregnant and at that point I thought, am I really gonna keep trying to be a rock star? I mean, now I’m pregnant. Now I have responsibility. And I actually decided to give up on the music. I don’t know if you know this whole story, but I actually decided to give up on it. And I went to study psychology in a clinical psychology program and I thought, okay, that’s it. Now I’m going to be, you know, a therapist full time. I had the baby and it was really hard as it is having. I mean, I was also in this PhD program and I had this baby and I wasn’t feeling connected at all. I mean, I, nursing was a complete disaster. Obviously I was exhausted and all that stuff and I was over extending myself and you know, I didn’t sing at all. I wasn’t singing a note, nothing for the first months. And, and my husband sang like a Lark. I remember watching, I was like doing that triple pumping and feeding and just all that stuff. Cause nursing was so awful. And I remember seeing my husband singing and I was thinking, what’s going on? I’m not connected. My music is not, like I had given up on the music and all this stuff and it took me a while to really find the connection. And, and for me it happened through the music. It happened when I finally said, I’m going to try to sing to this baby right now. And I remember that the minute I did it, the way he looked at me and the way I felt, cuz the thing about music is that it bypasses the intellect. You know, it’s, it’s very emotional. That’s part of the reason babies prefer to hear us sing rather than speak precisely because it’s emotional talking can be very intellectual and they pick up on that. And so in that moment he was it, I was feeling it and I just, I got it. I, I was like, okay, I I’ve been sort of denying this, putting that on the shelf, but music is needed here because babies that’s their language. Their language is melody and body language and facial expression. You know, all these things. We, when we let’s say meet a stranger at a party, let’s say we’re, we’re listening to their language, but we’re picking up on their body, their voice, their face. That’s the language for babies, is body, voice face.
Dr. Sarah (10:49):
And so I, I finally just got it. And then I started Baby In Tune, I wrote this album, my first album, Good Morning My Love of all these songs that I wrote with him and eventually recorded them. And yeah. And then, and then it really all came together and I was, I was lucky because I think for so many people having a baby derails you from your career and you’re just like, what, who am I again? But for, for me it actually brought all the pieces together. You know, the music therapist, the mom, the rock star, the, the, the psychotherapist. So yeah.
Dr. Sarah (11:27):
Oh, that’s amazing. And that’s like the most beautiful story too, because it really it’s. The music is this like connector. It allows you to like reconnect. And I had a, like when my second, when my daughter was born, I had postpartum depression with her and it was really hard to feel connected to her, which was really jarring for me because I didn’t have that with my first. I didn’t have that experience with my son. And so the absence of that connection felt like double whammy. To me, it felt like I knew it was missing and that freaked me out. And it was really, for me, music is always a big part of our life, but it was, for me, it was actually play with her, like being able to sit and watch her play, just observe, just sit and watch her or figure things out, started to be the, the connector for me. That like observation, the sitting back, just stopping, fixing, stopping, doing, just being, and that helped. Actually the song you wrote, Little Bird, I remember listening to that. She was on the floor, my son was doing something and she’s on the floor playing. And I was sitting there feeling just really overwhelmed. It was, I was on my maternity leave and that song came on and I hadn’t heard it before. And I was listening to the lyrics and I just started crying, like crying so hard because it was like my total truth. It, so it was exact and the lyrics are amazing. It was like, what are, how it remind me? Cause I can’t even…
Cause you’re like a bird who flies out of the nest when no one’s watching. On your own time. You learn to touch the sky all by yourself. When no watching, it’s really something. My little bird. It’s like, you just need a nest for when you want to rest.
Dr. Sarah (13:24):
And I think what made first of all, thank you for singing that. Cause I just got so moved and also, like I’m crying right now. But when my, when I was listening to that, what it did for me in that moment was it gave me this cuz I had this guilt. This was like the narrative of my, of my postpartum depression with her was this guilt. Because I wasn’t giving her what I had given my son. I wasn’t giving my son what I was used to giving him. And so I was sitting there being like, I am so feeling so guilty. And when I heard this song about this, this second child who basically just, she does things on her own, she doesn’t need you to be everything for her. She’s independent and she is fine. And, but she does need a nest when she wants to rest. She’ll come back to you when she needs you to fill her up. So that you don’t have to feel like you have to feel so guilty chasing and chasing and chasing this impossible task of being everything for every kid. But to be there for when they need you. And it was like this like lifting off of my shoulders, this huge burden. So…
Oh, I got the chills, as you were saying that you know, the thing is that we, with the first, we all have this misconception that we’re so needed. That we need to be involved in every single aspect and we actually don’t and we only gain the wisdom, you know? Like, look, if they’re any first time parents listening to this, I hope you can hear, although we can’t fully absorb it, you know, but like they actually don’t need much. They need us to give them shelter to feed them, to make sure their body’s working. I and all that. And then they kind of need us to just step back and let them do their thing to kind of just allow the space for it. And yeah, I think I also had the guilt, which of course is where that song came out of. But it was from that moment of realizing, oh wow. Actually this second one is like so much more independent. And so less looking at me for approval from every step of the way. And that’s because he actually had the space to fly.
Dr. Sarah (15:42):
Right. And I think that confidence one, it just naturally comes more easily with a second in part, out of necessity, in part, out of just you’re forced into not being able to give them everything right. Cause of life. But then you realize in doing that, hopefully that that might have been an okay thing from the start like that your first actually might have benefited from that. And actually, you know, I practice RIE, you know, the RIE parenting philosophy a lot with my kids. Which really does sort of remind parents to, to do a little bit less, to sit back, not without our presence, right. To not ignore our kids or not be with our kids. Our presence is critical, but that’s enough. Like we don’t have to be the toys for them and dangling them in their face and putting on a show and solving all the problems we can just be there and be observing and watch them kind of explore the world on their own terms and on their own time. And that that’s actually a huge strength builder like resilience builder for our kids.
Dr. Sarah (16:57):
That trust. It’s trust
Right. On both sides. And it’s, it’s trusting them to know trusting that they know where to go. You know, I always tell the parents in my classes, like we think that we are the PhD, you know, that we need to like teach our baby things when actually we are just like the research assistant. That’s it, we’re just there assisting them in their exploration. And like you’re saying, we’re present there, we’re looking, we’re watching noticing, but we’re not leading it, in best case in their
Dr. Sarah (17:34):
Yeah. And I think one of our jobs is to be sort of the emotion regulator, right. Their external nervous system. And we can do that. They’re the thinkers, we’re the, we are the containers. So like we could do that through music. Right? Like we could do that through other ways of engaging with our kid. And we could do this with our breath. We could do this with our body language. All these things that you’re talking about at that are really kind of pivotal in music. So music’s like a beautiful example of this. But we use it to like kind of help keep them in the lines of emotion, regulation of staying regulated. So when they start to get agitated, we can help create just like a little buffer zone with whether it’s music or other ways of interacting with them, touch just, you know, being there. To bring ’em back in just a little bit, not turn it off, not turn that distress off, but to say, oh, you’re getting a little upset. Let’s see what’s happening. Let me be curious. Why are you crying right now? Can I like, and then just kind of pull them back in.
Yeah. Yep. Exactly. I love that.
Dr. Sarah (18:54):
How do you, so when you’re working with parents and you’re working, like crying is crying and soothing is a big part of the work that you do. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah. Yeah. Let’s so let’s start with, with little babies. One of the first things that I work on with parents coming with little babies who are zero to eight months is starting to think about their own voice as another pair of hands. You know, we kind of, we think of our arms as the only way to hold, but our voice is another way to hold as we really tune in to our tonality, to the tone, which has to do with breathing with diaphragm, you know, with body posture, all this stuff, we can really alter our tone and make our tone more soothing. Really. You know, it does have to do with relaxing our own body. Cuz of course babies are like little emotional antennas, constantly checking how stressed is mom. So if we can find this relaxed tonality, our, our voice can be like arms. And not only that sometimes better because when the baby’s in the backseat and we don’t, we can’t hold them, we can use our voice. And when the baby one mom told me the other day that she had her toddler in the bath and the baby was in the other room, in the bouncy seat and the baby started crying and she’d started doing this soothing thing. We’ll talk about it in a second. And then the baby was soothed because she could kind of soothe the baby long distance with her voice. So the first is really just realizing the power of voice and we do some exercises in class to kind of open it up, feel more resonance. But, but you know, the simplest way to it is just to take deep breaths. And by the way, if someone’s out there going, oh, forget it done. I’m not a singer. I can’t use my voice. I’m not gonna listen to this. It’s actually not about singing. What I’m talking about now is really just using your voice for something called vocal toning in music therapy. But it’s really using your voice. Even in speaking, you know, being aware of it and because our, our speech with babies is very melodic, much more than with, you know, grownups. Where we kind of, hi, we kind of do this like a bell curve. Ahhh, hi baby. So it’s very melodic when we sooth, we go it’s all right. We descend with our tone. We’re extremely melodic. Cuz babies need that. They actually do respond to it. They become more soothed and more alert. So the second part of soothing with a baby is, is, is to think about this vocal toning. So when your baby is crying, they’re using their voice a lot. They’re really communicating with their voice. And so when we use our voice back, it’s a way it’s sort of like the way a therapist reflects their client. And they say, I hear you. Or sometimes, you know, like a therapist, we know someone can come in and be like, well, you know, I had a bad day and I just felt very confused and don’t know what to do. And the therapist might say you had a bad day, you felt confused and you don’t know what to do. Right? Like sometimes a therapist can repeat verbatim and someone will go, yes, that’s right.
Dr. Sarah (22:15):
So when we use our voice back with our baby, it’s really a way to reflect and to say, I hear you, I’m here with you. So one thing we do is, is what I call the soothing method, which is a way to, help parents use their voice in this way. I mean, obviously you can sing a song you can improvise and use your voice in a way that you feel is right. That’s awesome. But if you want another idea, what I teach is first of all, to bounce to the rhythm of your song. So let’s say you’re holding your baby. You’re bouncing to the rhythm of whatever song you’re hearing or song you’re singing. It sounds obvious, but we don’t actually always do it. So one thing is to really, cuz babies want to be in sync with a rhythm. There’s a lot of studies showing that babies understand rhythm. They wanna be in sync with it, it’s soothing.
Dr. Sarah (23:09):
Yeah. Because they probably feel it in their body. I mean, we think about it when we feel something in our body, we kind of moved to it. I always joke that I always see like, or even I would do this when I was a new mom, like other babies would cry and I’d just start bouncing. Totally. You know? Like you just, I, can’t not bounce when I see other babies crying.
Know, I know same here. Yes. And it’s because they were in our belly, they were bouncing around with our walking. They heard our heartbeat. There’s so many, there’s so much rhythm that happened to them even before they were born. The second thing is that we use the vow O. O is a soothing sound like we say, oh, or omm and we, you know, oh, it’s okay. So the vowel O. And then we rock between two notes, just like you’re bouncing with your body. You rock with your voice. And the fourth is to take deep breaths so that you’ll relax your body. So it’ll sound kind of like this. Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa. Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. So like imagine your baby’s crying and they kind of do this wavering too. Ah, it kinda sounds like a siren, right? By the way, ambulance sirens are based on babies cries because we are wired to respond to it. So when we’re doing this kind of vocal, toning and reflecting back, we kind of use our voice in this way to say yes, I hear, I hear you with our voice too. And then we can also hold notes is another way to do it. But you know, when you’re, let’s say, let’s say you’re in the car and the baby’s in the backseat. You really want to like make your voice big by, you can put your hand on your chest and make sure it’s like vibrating even more. And just take in deep breaths, drop your jaw so that you really change your tone to be as resonant as you can. That’s what’s really gonna work. So that’s one thing we do with the little ones regarding soothing.
Dr. Sarah (25:06):
That makes me wonder too, from like a nervous system perspective. If, when you’re making your voice more resonant, if a child is actually feeling the vibration more, which actually activates their parasympathetic nervous system, is that what’s happening?
Yes, yes. And it’s happening to us. So it’s a feedback loop because it’s like an internal massage for us and we’re vibrating our own body and yes, singing and music lowers our cortisol. It regulates our heart rate because we’re taking in regular breaths as we sing. Yeah, exactly. And by the way, this works really well when men do it because they vibrating even more in their chest. It’s like a vibrating chair. So it’s really a nice thing.
Dr. Sarah (25:52):
Cause I was thinking I’ve always had this theory that parents instinctively hum to their kids because humming, activates, stimulates the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and that not just for our kids, but for us. So that we can stay regulated when our child is dysregulated. When we hum or sing.
Yes, exactly. And humming is kind of, it creates more of a vibration inside your body. It’s sort of like you’re creating this, this closed vessel with the humming that keeps the vibration like a, like a guitar or yes, exactly. One of the reasons I love this soothing method is that it is. So I think that soothing methods can only work if it’s also soothing us at the same time. Otherwise it’s not gonna work because it might take a while for a baby to soothe and the entire time they’re gonna be going, is she soothed? Is she stressed? Right. And unless mama gets stressed or dad gets, you know, or unless mama gets calm down, baby’s not going to, so my soothing method has to be working on me as well.
Dr. Sarah (27:02):
Yeah. And I mean, I talk about this all the time, that our nervous systems are so interconnected and our kids need us to co-regulate and we can’t co-regulate unless we are a regulated presence. And co-regulation literally means using our calm nervous system to communicate safety to their nervous system. So their nervous system can get out of fight or flight and into like a calm, safe space. So yeah, anything that we do to soothe our kids kind of requires us to be calm. And it’s, I do think you can fake it till you make it a little bit, but you really can’t trick a nervous system.
Yeah. Because if we’re bouncing quickly, let’s go to the bouncing thing for a second. We’re bouncing and we’re not going to the rhythm and we’re just bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. That actually stresses the body. That can be very stressful. But if we just kind of like put on music or sing a song and go to the rhythm, it just, it it’s that dance, why do we love to dance? Because we love to be in sync with someone. So not only is it calming our parasympathetic nervous system, like you’re saying, but it’s also making us in sync with the baby, which feels good. We want to be in sync with others. That’s why, that’s why we started dancing is because we wanted to be in sync with the people around us. So it works on so many levels and like you’re saying, if you’re not calming yourself yeah. It, this is not gonna work. So using all of these tools that we have to take deep breaths and calm ourselves.
Dr. Sarah (28:37):
I know it sounds over simplistic, but I really, at the end of the day, there’s some science behind it as you we’re sort of explaining. Also, I see how I feel, how this works for babies and for parents of babies. But I also have like lived how it works for older kids. Like I use your strategies with my toddlers on a regular basis and it’s helpful.
So yeah, let’s talk how we can use these methods with older ones. So first of all, the lullaby is huge. I, if there are parents out there listening who don’t yet have a lullaby, please, your homework is to find one. Speak to your parents, ask them what lullaby was sung to them. Talk to your partner. The reason the lullaby works goes back to Pavlov’s dog, you know, behavioral cues. It’s the idea that just to remind people that when you, you know, he rang a bell and the dogs came and ate and he rang the bell and the dogs came in ate. And eventually he rang the bell and the dogs salivated just at the sound of the bell. Why? Because this cue was repetitive. He did it every day. It was consistent. It was always the same trigger this bell. And it was a very identifiable trigger. This bell was very clear. So the more you have a song that you’re gonna sing every night, or every time you’re putting in your baby to sleep, your baby is going to have a physical reaction to this song. And it really does work because singing and music is a very identifiable trigger for babies. They they’re so tuned into music and this really does become, they will start to yawn just at the sound of the Lubi after only, you know, a couple months of hearing it. And then it’s the thing that’s portable that you can use anywhere in the airplane or wherever then you, then what I really love about it is that you can give that, teach the song to the nanny. And when you are gone, the nanny sings the song. And not only does it have that same effect, but it’s also, I always think of it as like an emotional transitional object. It’s like, it’s not just the passy that you’re are transferring, but you, but it transfers over all of the emotions that were felt when you sang this lullaby to babies. So now when someone else sings this lullaby, your baby is feeling all of those warm, fuzzy feelings that you had at bedtime when you sang. And so it’s so teach the daycare people. So having a lullaby is so helpful. And I think for years, I mean, like I still sometimes sing it to my seven year old.
Dr. Sarah (31:32):
And, and I think, we talked about transitional objects, which I think is so important it’s before they’re able to hold an object in their mind, before they’re able to pull up like the image of the soothing object, they can access music. So like they can hear that song in their head or hum that song to themselves, or think that song in their mind and eventually sing that song to themselves. And that is like an internalized, that’s the internalization of that transitional object. That’s gonna happen faster with music than like a lovey or you know, it’s just something they always have access to.
Yes. Yes. And I’m sure that a lot of people listening have had that exact experience of then the baby lying in the dark room, singing to themselves. Yes. Because they do learn it and you’re right. And then they become their own soother, their own lullaby maker, which is it’s the sweetest thing. Yeah. And, and the same goes for this is less about soothing, but the same goes for all routine moments, you know, for having a, I love when people have a morning song. I don’t know if you have one, but I, I always had one and it, it was like the reunion moment, you know, it’s this moment of we’ve been separated, but now we connect with a song which is this emotional connection. And we sing the song. Even before we go out into the chaos, into the light, like we have this moment of connection. That’s so joyful and exciting. And not only that says to the baby, this is morning. I did not sing this song at 4:00 AM. When you woke up, so it’s also kind of this behavioral cue once again. And, and again, it like goes into years. I mean, I sing it to my daughter this morning.
Dr. Sarah (33:30):
Yeah. You know what my morning song is, don’t you? It’s Good Morning My Love.
Ah, I love that.
Dr. Sarah (33:35):
It is! I always sing it. Cuz it’s easy. It was an easy one for me to memorize. I got that one down.
Yes. Yeah, yeah. I always call this the preschool teacher technique. You know, it’s not actually a technique to have songs during these moments, but I think about the preschool teacher who had the cleanup song, you know, and like what do kids do when they hear the cleanup song? They sort of start moving like robots and like picking up the toys and putting them away. Cuz they’re hearing clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. And it just creates this action. This behavior.
Dr. Sarah (34:10):
It is, it’s a prompt. It’s a total prompt. My, my kids will sing it at home when they’re, you know, cuz their teacher taught it to them at school and they’ll come home and they’ll do it on their own. When they’re cleaning up. It be comes their like inner narrative to help them kind of move through a task. And I also think much like you were talking about using music to soothe a baby and to think about, we were talking about like, what’s our job as these like external emotion regulators, of always kind of having our finger on the pulse of affect and being able to feel when it too big and being able to very un-intrusively, dial it back down very naturally, you know, not turn it off, not distract, not, you know, not remove it, but just like we’ve got our hands on the dials. And I feel like music, I use that with my all the time. Like when things are getting a little hairy, when fighting is start, they’re getting a little, like they’re at an age right now they’re two and a half and four, they fight. And like when I feel that tension or when they’re really resisting a transition, I use it a lot with transitions. Yeah. But those are times when I’ll find myself just naturally. Like I don’t, it’s not like a conscious thing. I just start singing. I’m not even singing a song. I’m telling them what we’re doing or I’m telling them not to do something, but I sing it just, it just comes outta my mouth that way. And I think it’s because I am trying to maintain that lightness in the affect and trying to dial it back down and singing is a really good way to kind of chill things out.
Yes. I love that you do that. Just sort of like saying what you wanna say, but in song it’s exactly what you’re saying. Really dissipates the intensity and your kid’s ears probably perk up and they’re like, oh this is interesting.
Dr. Sarah (35:59):
Yeah. And it keeps me from yelling. Because I probably wanna yell when I’m saying like, let’s go guys let’s get up the stairs. But instead I have my up the stairs song, which you helped me write actually.
Yeah, yeah. Yes. I love that. And I, I really encourage parents to write their, you know, really the best are like your own songs that you write for these exact moments that are so hard of like, what do you sing when they’re fighting? If you even come up with like a sibling fighting song and you sing it every time, it really will have the same effect. Like, oh, she’s singing the song, I guess we’re, we’re done for a little bit, you know, we’ll kinda like create this little signal of this is, this is what we sing when we’re, when we’re finishing it. I have to say too that it, I really felt this music helping with transitions and dissipating a moment last year. So I was in a, I was on a road trip, right with my family. We spent the whole year driving around the United States and a lot of it was in the car and I’ve got three kids from ages seven to 13. And there were moments that were like, so high intensity and stressful in the car of like, I need this food and whatever, and don’t open the window, and da, da, da, you know, why did you touch me? All those moments and what I would do, speaking of hands on the dial, literally. I would try to like slowly sneak in some music. If I did it right away, obviously they’d be like, don’t turn on the music. But if I did it sneaky and kind of like fade in…
Dr. Sarah (37:42):
It’s like you’re DJing your children.
Yes! I was DJing them. And it was unbelievable that within like a minute of the music being on everything became quiet. Every, it was just like so phenomenal for me to kind of see this again. Because we were in such this pressure cooker situation of the car a lot. Just to see wow. That the power of this music right now, when you turn something on and how it just kind of lifts, there’s something about it that lifts our are there’s no more like focus on these little minute details. It sort of takes us out a little bit and helps us get, gain some perspective or just step back for a second and bring in the emotion and out this intensity of like intellectual detail.
Dr. Sarah (38:39):
Right. Well, cuz it’s also activating the right hemisphere. It’s different part of the brain turns on and lights up when that music comes in. And that can help break up some of this more agitated, you know, amygdala action going on in the brain.
Exactly. Yes. I love how you’re bringing in all these brain things. Totally.
Dr. Sarah (38:58):
I can’t help it. I like I’m obsessed. I’m such a neuro, a neuro nerd.
I love it. It’s great.
Dr. Sarah (39:06):
But, I resonate with that so much. And I think that’s really helpful to think about the fact that like this doesn’t, this is not just for babies. It’s not just are toddlers. It’s, you know, seven to 107. Like we are human beings, human beings instinctively respond effectively to music and it helps parents calm down. It helps kids calm down. It helps everybody feel in sync. Like you were saying. It’s, it’s a, it’s a super starter for that attachment.
Yes. And another time that it could really help is the witching hour. I always found that the best thing to do and especially right now when it’s cold and you can’t just walk around the block, which was always my second go to, but my first was always dance party. I, and it doesn’t have to be a long dance party. It could be one song, right? Just one song and you dance for the three minutes and it just like resets the entire situation.
Dr. Sarah (40:08):
Yes. I cannot tell you how big a fan I am of dance parties. I actually use them at nighttime. So a little bit after witching hour. Cuz for my kids, witching hour is like right before dinner. And then kind of all the way through dinner and all the way to bedtime actually. But we usually, this is how I get them to go upstairs. So I will, I will sort of bribe them with a dance party. Once they get their jammies on and brush their teeth, we have a dance party in mom and dad’s room. They like to what my son will call, build the bed and he’ll put all of his stuffies. And his sister now does it too, where they like lay out a blanket on the floor. They put all of their stuffed animals on their blankets, which is also their stage.
Dr. Sarah (40:50):
And they like rock out. We have like, you know, depending on how much time they have, which is another thing to help them understand like timing management skills, like the sooner we do it, the more songs we get. And we have a dance party and we rock out hard too. Like they have, they are, and I’m not afraid too of like hyper, big stuff before bed. Cuz I actually think it helps them reset their nervous system. I don’t think, I think it’s a myth that everything before bed has to be like, like calm and quiet and subdued and I think there’s, it depends on your kids obviously. But I think my kids can totally transition to bedtime so much more easily after a nice big dance party.
Yeah. A little sweating it’s like stretching kind of. Like gets your muscles loose.
Dr. Sarah (41:38):
And it’s like a release. And it’s connected. We have fun. We are dancing with them too. So there’s this like mom and dad kid connection happening. It’s fun. It’s like, it’s just a nice reset. And then we go to bed.
And what’s really nice too. Is, is using music as a timekeeper kind of what you’re saying. I mean like, like with the cleanup song or let’s say someone has a brush your teeth song or a diaper changing song, this is a way to say like, let’s say my diaper changing song is I’m gonna change your diaper now diaper now diaper now, you know, whatever, you might do it twice through your baby eventually is gonna get, oh, okay. She sings it twice through and then we’re done. And for babies, this is crucial because they don’t wanna be on that changing table by eight months or whatever, you know, they don’t wanna be lying down. They wanna continue playing. And so to have a song that’s a timekeeper or like you probably say one more song, which really means three more minutes, but that would be way more abstract. Right. So like songs can always be these great timekeepers of I sing this song and that means that we’re done with this thing or brushing teeth.
Dr. Sarah (42:48):
Yes. It’s like a beginning, a middle and an end or like bookends. It’s very containing for a kid to feel like they know when something’s going to start and end. Yes. And a song is the perfect package for that.
Dr. Sarah (43:02):
Yeah, so there’s so many things here that I feel like, so many really good takeaways for parents in this episode of like quick wins.
Yeah. Yeah. And one thing we, we haven’t talked about yet is play just shifting a little bit from the soothing. But how music can aid so much in, in play, which you know, is not directly a way to sooth, but I always think of play as like our, our secret weapon for any moment, you know, really any moment. You know, if a parent is able to bring playfulness in, you won. And music always helps me do it. Whether it’s like grabbing a puppet and being like hello or whatever it is, or just like having some rhythm, just tapping or even games like peekaboo and, or like doing a thing and then taking away doing a thing. These are all based on kind of rhythm of, I do this, I stop and then you anticipate, and then I take away. So it’s kind of like these plays of anticipation and then it, it’s so simple to play with kids. Really. We mostly have to play with just this anticipation moment. So it’s like repetition and anticipation and anticipating what’s gonna come next. It’s just tuning into these rhythms of our baby and pulling that out in the most difficult moments.
Dr. Sarah (44:31):
Yes. Which again is a regulator for us because if we can tap into our playfulness, we’re tapping out of our frustration. Cause it’s very hard to be playful and frustrated at the same time. So if we can, if we can kind of shift into that space of playfulness, it’s like the same reason I sort of sing to my kids instead of yell at my kids. Like it forces me to shift my own affect and then that’s regulating for my kids. So like it’s a lot of it starts with us. And using music and playfulness to regulate our own affect that we can then co-regulate with our kids.
Yes. So it’s not just working on us, but we’re also modeling it. Yes.
Dr. Sarah (45:13):
Yeah. I love it. Oh, thank you so much for being here. This was a very meaningful interview. I have to say.
Same for me. I love talking with you. It feels so natural. I always feel like we could just talk for hours.
Dr. Sarah (45:28):
We could and maybe we’ll have to do more. Cause I think that there’s more here. And I’d be very curious after listening to this episode what listeners wanna hear more of from like around these themes? Because we could take this in so many different directions. So if you have, you know, follow up questions to any of the stuff we’re talking about. Just, you know, email me at email@example.com or you can DM me on Instagram @drsarahbren. And Vered, how can people get in touch with you?
Well, the first way is I guess on Instagram. So @babyintune, like to tune into your baby, baby in tune. And my website is babyintune.com. So either of those places are good, good places to go. And I’ve got zoom classes happening. So no matter where you are, we can either have a class in person. I’ve got an online course in case you don’t want synchronous classes. So definitely come find me and just say hello and say like, hey, I heard you on Sarah’s podcast. That would be really fun.
Dr. Sarah (46:31):
Yeah. And also you, you should definitely like search her on Spotify and like download her songs. They’re so good. They’re like, I’m the reason why I’m such a big fan is because I like listening to them. You know what I mean? Like it’s, it’s great. My kids love the songs. They’re wonderful kid’s songs, but they’re like they have layers to them. They’re a little bit like as a parent, you are like yes. Oh, I feel you on that. I like that. Sounds good. I sing the songs to myself all the time, so it’s not like Coco Melon. It’s like the opposite of that.
I love that.
Dr. Sarah (47:07):
It is. So I’ll put a link in the show notes to your music too, cause I just can’t recommend it enough.
Great. Thank you.
Dr. Sarah (47:18):
All right. Well, thank you for so much for being here and we will be, we will be in touch soon. Have a wonderful day.
Thank you. You too. Bye.
Dr. Sarah (47:26):
Dr. Sarah (47:33):
Do you wanna hear more about the ways that you can interact with your baby to foster connection? Spoiler alert: it starts by having the confidence to tune into your parent-child relationship and your own instincts and tune out the endless noise coming your way. That kind of confidence comes from knowledge. Having a basic understanding of child development and psychology will help you know what to expect, which in turn will allow you to stop second guessing yourself and obsessively Googling quite so much. And if you’re interested in tailoring the principles of attachment theory, child development and neurobiology to your own unique family so that you can calmly and confidently respond to any problem as it arises, connect authentically with your child and truly enjoy parenting, then you’re gonna wanna check out my digital course, The Authentic Parent: Finding your confidence in your child’s first year. In this six week course, I’m going to break down the foundational basics into simple to understand and actionable insights. So you can parent from an informed and confident headspace. To learn more about The Authentic Parent and to sign up for the waitlist, go to drsarahbren.com/tap that’s drsarahbren.com/tap. Space is limited, so add your name to the list today and be one of the first to get access to register for my February session. Thanks for listening. And don’t be a stranger.
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