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They've Got Rhythm

Children love to dance and sing along to their favorite songs, but as Tricia O'Brien, Features Editor for American Baby Magazine, tells us, those tunes can actually be good for their development.

Kids can learn from music and may benefit from music classes at a very young age. "It's a really great way to bond with your child," says O'Brien. Children as young as four months will smile and laugh when music is played, but older children will learn new words and associations.

Music can improve a child's motor skills as well. "They're developing muscles as they move and dance and rock and sway," says O'Brien. Your child doesn't have to be learning to play the piano or violin to improve their coordination.

Many children find music to be very soothing as well. A simple lullabye sung in a soft voice can help calm a child down. Or, have your child sing and dance themselves. "It's a great way for them to get that energy out," says O'Brien.

Music can also help to empower children. "Kids get to a certain age where they like to have some control and know what's coming next," says O'Brien. "Songs like 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'... they're kind of repetitive. They can learn those words pretty quickly and they like knowing what's going to come next." However, don't make your child a performer if they don't want to be. If your friends are visiting, don't force your child to sing and dance for them. "If they don't want to, don't push them," says O'Brien.

If all that singing and dancing begins to drive you crazy, keep in mind that you don't have to listen to children's music all the time. Try to branch out. Expose your kids to show tunes or classical music. Throw in a few of your favorites too. You never know - your child may grow up to be a huge Beatles fan, just like you.

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By Erin Petrun

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