What you are teaching your baby before birth

While I was in college one of my professors showed us a TED talk entitled, “What we learn before we’re born” by Annie Murphy Paul. At the time I was pregnant with my first child so this was something that I was very interested in hearing. The things I learned from this 16 minute talk are so valuable and helpful, I will forever remember them and apply what I learned.


Most people think that learning starts at birth but in reality it really starts in the womb before birth. According to Paul, “Some of the most important learning we ever do happens in the womb.” Woah! Hold on here. At the time I heard this I was pregnant with my first and I am currently pregnant with baby number two. This statement put a lot of pressure and guilt on me. Due to some health issues that I have, I am already worried about what I am doing to my unborn child. I never realized that in addition to creating a healthy child I was also already teaching my child. I will admit that when I first heard this I had a minor freak out. Was I teaching my child what I wanted them to know? Are they learning good information? Am I helping or hurting them? Aaaghhhh! The pressure and guilt I put on myself was intense and it was completely unnecessary. Before you watch this clip let me tell you some key points that will help you and will hopefully, help you avoid a major meltdown like I had.

Night before my first munchkin was born

My first munchkin, Spencer

4 things you are teaching your baby before birth:
  1. Sounds of voices. At 4 months gestation babies can hear. Most of these are muffled but the mother’s is not. Your baby hears your voice much clearer than any other voice. This is why newborns will turn to their mother’s voice and find the most comfort with her.
  2. Language. Did you know that your baby will cry in your (the mother’s) native language? How cool is that. This helps them later on when they are learning how to speak. It also helps to create a bond with baby and mother.
  3. Taste and smells. At 7 months gestation your baby’s taste buds are developed and they can also smell. What you eat teaches the baby that this is a safe and good food to eat. After they are born they will prefer those things because they know that they like it.
  4. Emotions and the environment. You are sending your baby “biological postcards” about the world they are going to come into. Your baby uses these clues to adjust and prepare for life outside of the womb. Babies can feel your emotions and from them learn from them. The air you breathe and the food you eat teach your baby about where they are going to live. They learn that food is either abundant or scarce.

Now that I have prefaced you a little, watch the video and tell me what you think.

The bottom line is that we are our children’s first and most important teacher. This learning starts before we even get to hold them. However, you don’t need to have a major meltdown about what you are teaching your baby. All you need to do is these three simple things:
  1. Send correct “postcards”. Remember this is your baby’s clue as to what it will be like outside of the womb.
  2. Eat nutritious foods. Your baby is going to like the things you ate while pregnant outside of the womb. So if you are always eating junk food that is what they are going to gravitate to. I like to think of this as the first step in getting your kids to eat vegetables. If you eat them frequently while you are pregnant they are going to want to eat them later. 😉
  3. Relax and enjoy your pregnancy. Try to avoid stress. Build love and excitement from the beginning.

So, tell me what did you think of this? Any tips or advice?



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