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Brendan Lyons tells the story behind I Can Hear Music, a picture book about the development of the child in the womb.

My wife is a cantor, and during her pregnancy with our first (and currently only) child, she sang at three different churches. Though music can vary from parish to parish, all three used the same melody for the Sanctus, or "Holy, Holy, Holy." So while our little girl was developing, that was the tune she most likely heard more than any other. She must have liked it, too, because she did quite a bit of kicking while her mother was singing it. 

Our daughter was born around Easter of last year, during quarantine. That meant no more cantoring for Mom and Mass on television for the whole family. Being a newborn, our daughter did not pay much attention to the Mass playing on television, that is until the time came for the Sanctus. Just a few notes into that familiar tune, our little girl -- who couldn’t even lift her head, mind you -- craned her neck to see where the music was coming from. 

She remembered. 

At that point, I had read up on all the things babies can do before and soon after birth, so I was aware that they can hear and remember things from their time in the womb. That did not make it any less amazing to see it happen before my eyes. It did get me thinking, though, about how many sounds from the outside world a baby might remember after birth. 

I Can Hear Music cover

Encouraging your children to talk to, sing to, and pray with their unborn sibling will help you get a head start on family bonding. #catholicmom

Not all hearing develops along the same timeline, of course, but we know that by 24 weeks, most children can hear sounds from outside the womb. During my wife’s pregnancy, I was thrilled to learn that my baby could hear my voice. We were awaiting our first child, but for a lot of families, it is not just the father there chatting up a storm. There are often other children around as well. Whether or not a baby can hear their older siblings depends on how far along the baby is. In the womb, babies hear low voices first, but higher voices follow quickly after. Children’s regular speaking voices can vary in tone as widely as 257 to 376 Hz, but they go much higher when a child is excited. Still, by week 26, over 90% of babies in the womb can hear tones as high as 500 Hz, which is a little higher than an ‘A’ above middle ‘C’ on a piano. If you have ever been to an orchestra concert, it is very close to the pitch they tune their instruments to (aka concert pitch). 

So, if you already have kids and another on the way, by 26 weeks the baby in the womb can hear their sibling outside. Encourage them to talk to their sibling in your tummy, because while it may feel like they’re waiting and waiting for the chance to get to know their little sibling, their little sibling could be getting to know them right now! 

And if that little baby can hear their big sibling, why not encourage that big sibling to pray with them? Share your favorite prayers, pray a Rosary, or just pray whatever you feel. If you need a little inspiration, I’ve taken the liberty of writing a special prayer just for a big brother or sister to say for their little sibling in the womb: 


Lord, my life is a precious gift
And so are all on earth
This little baby is so small
Yet still has so much worth
Let me always be the (brother, sister, or sibling)
You call me to be
So when this little one is born
It can count on me
Count on me to lead the way
And share the love You give
That together we may grow
Together we may live
Until then watch over us
This little child and me
And let Your love stay at the center
Of our family.


Encouraging your children to talk to, sing to, and pray with their unborn sibling will help you get a head start on family bonding. Have them pick out their favorite books to read to their little sibling, too. There are so many ways for your children to share what they love, that you are sure to be able to find the perfect thing for yours. 

In my house, it is all about music. That is what inspired me to write I Can Hear Music, a children’s book about the development of hearing in the womb -- and why my music-loving daughter was the first to hear it read aloud. Someday soon, God willing, she will get the chance to read it and other books to the next music-lover in the family!

Copyright 2021 Brendan Lyons
Image: Canva Pro

About the author: Brendan Lyons is the author of several books, including his latest, I Can Hear Music, which can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, Books-A-Million, and J.W. Pepper. He is also the Associate Editor at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Find him on Twitter (@theLyonbrary) and Facebook (@BrendanJLyons).