After seeing the African Children’s choir perform yesterday, I started thinking back to my time in Africa. It was so amazing to me to see how naturally rhythm and singing came to the kids there, especially compared to a lot of the kids I had worked with at home.
Earlier this year, I attended an Orff conference (music educator’s conference) and the speaker talked about how differences in cultures affect music formations in children’s lives. For example, in Kenya, babies and young children were mainly carried throughout the day in wraps. As a result, they were constantly being exposed to rhythmical movement and singing. Here in the US, while baby wearing is becoming more popular, it isn’t as ingrained in our culture.
Babies learn most of their rhythms through conversation, songs and rhymes they are exposed to, and also movements parents/caregivers do with them. Baby bounces are a wonderful way to do just that.
When my baby was little, I didn’t feel comfortable doing actual baby bounces, so I would just say the words in rhythm while he was on a blanket, and I would gently move his legs or his arms as I said the words. As he got older, I would transition him to more of an upright position, and eventually started to bounce him on my knee. Now that he’s one and a half, he loves sitting on my knee and doing the baby bounces. We usually do “Giddy Up, Horsey”, which was one I did when I was little. The neat thing about baby bounces is that they have been passed down from generation to generation, and as a result, there are several different versions of them, like folk songs. Here are the words we use:
Giddy up, horsey
Giddy up, horsey
Go to town
be a good boy
Don’t fall do-w-w-w-w-n
It’s fun to act out the word “down”. For little ones, you can try tickling their arms or legs in a downward motion. You could also gently sit them down on your lap. With my toddler, he likes to lean backwards (and I keep my hands behind him to support him when he does that). However you decide to do it, make sure you keep in mind age-appropriateness. Have fun doing baby bounces and creating memories with your little one(s)!