It's science: Why ‘Baby Shark’ gets stuck in your head (forever)

"Baaa-beee Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Baby Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Baby Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Baby SHARK!..." Just when you got that song out of your head, something triggers it again, and, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo… Baby Shark comes floating right back.

It follows you everywhere—to the store, to the bathroom, to bed. When you wake up in the morning, it doesn't take much to trigger its return—especially if you're still tired. And no matter how hard you try to unhear it, it just won't spare you another verse.

All of this happens for a reason—we are wired to learn by repetition throughout our life.

It may make some of these refrains a bit sweeter to know that the part of the brain that helps your baby learn to talk is the same part at work when you get a song stuck in your head. Called the Language Acquisition Device (LAD), it is the theoretical section of the brain thought to account for children's instinctive ability to acquire and produce language. As adults, we retain these LADs to enable us to learn things like a musical instrument or a second language.


In the LAD part of the brain, input, or what is heard, is processed through vocalization and repetition, which turns it into output, or the process that lays down neural networks and commits information to memory. This is why as parents we naturally reinforce the sounds our baby makes with intonation (melody), exaggeration, and repetition, "often reacting to early vocalizations as if they were intended to communicate something, responding in ways that are thought to promote communicative development," according to Snow and Ferguson.

When you get a song stuck in your head, it's called Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI). Just like when your baby sings and makes sounds and you echo them and add words to activate their LAD, INMI is your own LAD being stimulated, producing the output necessary to process information and store it as a memory as if you were learning something new like a second language, or in this case, the song repeating in your head.


Humans are the only species to have language and sing.

There is anthropological evidence that homo sapiens sang (non-linguistic vocalizations) before speaking, according to anthropologist Frank B. Livingstone in Current Anthropology. The evolutionary basis for how we are wired to acquire language can explain why both unique capabilities work in concert when it comes to the LAD.

Neurologists have discovered that music is processed in the same area of the brain as language. Based on this, researchers "have hypothesized that by engaging and stimulating the LAD, a song may act as an activator or strategy in the development of language," from infancy to adulthood. And in learning language, infant vocalizations resemble singing more than speech. So when we naturally adjust the way we speak and sing to infants and small children we are actually teaching them to speak.

In a study out of Western Washington University, it was found that if a song continued to play in someone's head immediately after listening to it, that song was likely to return as an intrusive song within the next 24 hours. Hello, Baby Shark.

Additionally, it was discovered that intrusive songs return during times of low cognitive activities that require less problem solving, thinking and reasoning (when the output can more likely be processed), like folding laundry or spacing out when you are overtired.


It was found that the opposite can happen, too. Overloading our brains with challenging activities, like grocery shopping with toddlers or actively trying to block a song out of your head, can increase the frequency of that intrusive song as well. This can be explained by the Ironic Process Theory, where attempts to suppress a thought actually can cause an increase in the frequency of that thought.

Consciously attempting not to think about something is a mental control strategy known as thought suppression. This strategy can be successful under certain conditions, but it often promotes an increase in the accessibility of the thought to our consciousness. In other words, this theory suggests that if you consciously try not to think about Baby Shark, by thinking about it, an unconscious, automatic search for the song ironically results in a failure to not not think about it, producing the very state of mind you least desire.

This happens especially during times of stress, distraction, time urgency, or other mental load (, parenting). And this can be extrapolated to other parts of your life, not just Baby Shark.


So, basically, your attempts to gain mental control may actually create the unwanted mental state you were trying to avoid. (Fun fact: this happens more to women than men.)


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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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