Menu
It’s science:  2 years of music lessons can boost your child’s brain power

Parents often encourage their kids to take up an instrument in the hopes that the after-school activity will amplify in-school performance. Several studies have looked at the link between music training and cognitive skills in kids, but the results haven’t been super definitive in the past.


The latest research may change some minds, though (and increase enrollment in band camps), as it shows music training really can boost a child’s brain power.

A recently published five-year study conducted by neuroscientists at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California examined the impact of music instruction on kids’ social, emotional and cognitive development.

The results, along with initial results published last year, suggest as little as two years of music training can boost a child’s brain power in areas responsible for decision-making, giving them the ability to focus attention and inhibit impulses (a combo that comes in handy in the classroom).

According to USC neuroscientists, music instruction changes both the white matter (which carries signals) and the grey matter (which processes information) in a child’s brain. (So why not start early?)

“There has been a long suspicion that music practice has a beneficial effect on human behavior. But this study proves convincingly that the effect is real,” says Antonio Damasio, University Professor and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute.

Indeed, researchers found that children who recieved music instruction had more thinckness and volume in certain areas of the brain compared to peers who didn’t take music lessons.

“We have documented longitudinal changes in the brains of the children receiving music instruction that are distinct from the typical brain changes that children that age would develop,” explains Assal Habibi, the lead author of the study. “Our findings suggest that musical training is a powerful intervention that could help children mature emotionally and intellectually.”

The work is important not just for parents who are thinking about piano lessons, but also for policy makers because it comes at a time when funding for public school music programs are being slashed or, in some cases, already non-existent.

“Together these results demonstrate that community music programs can offset some of the negative consequences that low socioeconomic status can have on child development,” says Habibi.

The science shows music lessons speed up maturity in areas of the brain responsible for sound processing, language and speech development and reading skills. So while the sound of a child practicing the clarinet may not be music to a parents’ ears, it could be the foundation for a future that sounds a lot better.

Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

They say necessity is the mother of invention—and nothing makes you more inventive than motherhood.

Sometimes that means fashioning a diaper out of paper towels and your older child's underpants (true story). Sometimes that means creating an innovative and life-changing weighted baby sleep sack and totally crushing it on Shark Tank. Tara Williams is the latter.

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play