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Possibly. Babies in the womb are engaged in the important work of establishing nerve connections, which are necessary for learning, right from conception. And some experts suggest that parents can give their babies a head start on learning by stimulating them during pregnancy.
There isn't a lot of research, but several small studies show:
- By 28 weeks, babies respond to sounds in the same way they will outside the womb. Heart rate and breathing slow down when you play soft music and speed up with fast tunes.
- By 30 weeks, babies in utero can retain a 10-minute short-term memory. And by 34 weeks, they can remember things for up to a month.
- Babies who hear a made-up word repeatedly in the last two months of pregnancy recognize the word after birth.
In addition, during pregnancy, your baby tastes what you eat via the amniotic fluid that surrounds her.
In other words, as babies' senses develop in utero, they start absorbing impressions and information through their eyes, ears, mouth, and so on. So there are a number of things you'll do naturally (and you can do deliberately) to help your baby-on-the-way start learning about the world now.
It may seem silly, but if you're up for it, feel free to sing, talk, and read to your baby during pregnancy. (Even if you don't do this, of course, your little one will hear your voice in utero and recognize it at birth.) And when you eat food you enjoy, know that your baby is getting a taste of it too.