Pregnancy memories: learning starts in the womb

While babies are inside the womb, growing, twisting, and occasionally kicking you in the bladder, they are also processing a myriad of incoming information. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, your baby and its developing senses are already learning a lot about the world. While your womb may be their home for nine months, it is also their very first classroom, but for how long will those memories made during pregnancy last?


It is a long believed fact that babies hear and occasionally respond to music while in-utero. One study found that your new baby can start responding to music as early as 16 weeks after conception. While there are other yet unconfirmed theories like classical music can make your unborn child smarter and any music can improve their future hearing. Regardless, music has a tremendous ability to promote organization in our brains and help form memories.

In fact, it was music in the womb that actually proved that babies were capable of forming memories during pregnancy. A study found that mothers who were fond of a particular song caused their recently born children to react more positively to it up to four months after they were born.


Does your baby taste what you taste? The surprising answer is yes, but not in the same way you might expect. While your digestive system and the baby’s are separate, it does get to experience similar flavors of what you eat. As early as 8 weeks, your baby has the cluster of receptors that will be their taste buds connected to their brains, however they will not be able to actually taste until 16 weeks. By this time they are also having amniotic fluid run across their tongue which not only filled with vitamins and minerals, but also flavors. While they can’t smell in the womb, which is the key to processing such vivid flavors, they experience a blunted version of whatever you have been eating them. So if you eat a spicy meal, you might even feel your baby hiccup.

This can not only help your baby be more partial to your favorite foods later in life, but you can actually encourage a broad palate before they are even born. Research has shown that mothers who drank carrot juice during their last trimester gave birth to children that had fewer negative responses to it after they were born. So if you want to make those mushy peas and carrots go a little easier later on, it might be that you need to lead by example.


It is not just a musical tune that your child will pick up during pregnancy; they will also learn your language. While the formation of language advances at a much faster rate after the child has already been born, they will pick up a predisposition to your language of choice just by using it during pregnancy. A study found that children responded with more familiarity to their mother’s native language while being completely unresponsive to foreign vowel sounds if they were not used during pregnancy. However, that doesn’t mean if you play language CDs to your unborn child that they will come out speaking two languages, but their brains may develop a vague familiarity with the sounds that could help them develop future dialect.

The precious months that mother and child spend together during pregnancy are important for forming that lifelong bond. So while your baby may be able to develop pregnancy memories that could affect how they grow and develop in the future, the best thing a mother can do for her child is focus on strengthening the bond between them and give them a positive formative experience.

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