We have apps for just about everything – apps to call cabs, manage our calendars and to-do lists, handle our finances, and apps that are just for fun (Candy Crush, anyone?). There are also apps designed to help us train our brains and improve our memory and cognition. Now, a new app aims to take things a step further – training babies’ brains.
The Baby Brain Trainer – Nuryl
This baby brain training app is called Nuryl. It delivers daily “music lessons” to babies anywhere from the second trimester to 2 years of age. You can use belly earphones for buns that are still in the oven and your regular stereo after birth.
Specifically, Nuryl focuses on “High Information Music” – it’s not playing pop songs, Mozart, or Led Zeppelin. This kind of music is designed to be unpredictable and complex so that it stimulates the baby’s brain as much as possible. Rick Beato, one of the founders of Nuryl, credits this musical stimulation for his son developing perfect pitch, advanced math skills, and other cognitive benefits.
Ok, So Does It Work?
You’ve probably heard about people playing music for the baby through headphones placed on the belly. Some people argue that exposing your little one to music in the womb can help stimulate brain development – they suggest that babies recognize those tunes after birth and sometimes breathe or move in time to the music even in the womb.
The evidence for these claims mostly comes from studies on older children, since it’s not really possible to study the cognitive abilities of babies in the womb. For example, one study found that 3- and 4- year olds that took piano lessons had stronger spatial-temporal reasoning skills than children that didn’t have that training. Other studies have found that children who take music lessons before the age of 12 tend to have stronger vocabularies and math skills than their non-musical counterparts.
So, does playing music for your baby in the womb work? There honestly isn’t much evidence one way or the other. Experts generally agree that playing music for your child after birth is helpful, as is teaching them to play an instrument. But as far as womb tunes go, the jury is out.
How To Try It… Safely
While there’s not much evidence one way or the other about whether music or apps like Nuryl can make your baby smarter, there are some potential risks if you’re planning on using belly earphones.
For one, remember to keep the volume down. It’s easy to think that you have to crank it up in order for the sound to get through, but amniotic fluid actually transmits sound really well. Playing music too loud can overstimulate and frighten the baby. That kind of fetal stress can cause other health problems. For example, one study found that babies that were constantly exposed to loud noises during pregnancy were more likely to be preterm, underweight, and suffer from hearing loss. Note that those results weren’t typical for people going to the occasional concert; they were more focused on people that work in fields that involve a lot of noise. So feel free to slap on the headphones, but keep the music down. If you put the earphones on your own ears, it should be no louder than the sound of a washing machine.
In addition to the volume issue, keep an eye on the kind of music you’re playing. Studies in plants and animals have found that calming and harmonious music is helpful and discordant or chaotic music isn’t – it can stunt plant growth and make cows produce less milk. So consider keeping the tunes kid-friendly, with plenty of melody.
Tunes for Tots
All in all, there’s probably no harm in trying a product like Nuryl out. As with anything to do with your pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor beforehand. And regardless of whether you crank up the jams while your little one is still in the womb, a musical world after birth is definitely a good thing.