When Can Babies Hear in the Womb and What Should they Listen to?

baby hearYou are pregnant and you want to give your baby the best start in life. As a parent, especially new ones, but even ones schooled in having children, creating a life is an amazing thing.

What starts out as two separate entities, combines and creates life, a human that eventually grows and enters this world as a baby. Determining when they can hear things is something that you want to consider as well.

How do Babies Hear

When they can hear, the sounds that they hear are going to be muffled. As a parent who goes to the range frequently, it was important to know if the shots would harm the baby’s ears.

Fortunately, because of all the surrounding amniotic fluid and the mother’s body, that wouldn’t be a cause for concern, but they can hear.

If you want to imagine what it sounds like for a baby in the womb, stick your head under the water and listen.

Everything sounds further away and muted, but you can still hear things and something discern who is trying to communicate with you on the outside.

Timeline for Hearing Development

According to Healthline[1], there is a certain timeline with healthy pregnancies for the development of a babies hearing.

During the early period of pregnancy, weeks 4-5, the cells begin to arrange themselves to start forming the head and all of its features. By week 9 there are small indentations as to where those ears will be.

At week 18, your little bean is starting to hear sounds and that gets more and more sensitive to where sometimes around week 25 they are actually responding to noises and voices in the womb.

It’s interesting to see, looking at an ultrasound and speaking and they will move their little heads towards the direction of that sound, especially that of the mother.

But this is just a basic timeline, there are more details behind it, and see where it takes us.

What are they Hearing?

It’s amazing that babies will be able to hear things that you cannot. This is why when babies are born they are comforted by being close to their mothers’ chests as for the last 9 months they have been listening to your heartbeat from inside, they hear your stomach make noises, and they can hear you breathe.

This starts at around 16 weeks when they can hear these intimate sounds that only you possess. Now while they can hear, again things will be muffled.

But imagine that if as a pregnant woman you are living with a dog that likes to bark at their shadow, your baby could have a tendency to be less startled by the sound.

The louder the sound on the outside, the clearer it is on the inside, and while you don’t want to expose them to loud noises all the time, it could help to desensitize them to a few things in the natural world.

The clearest sound that they can hear however is the voice of mom. “When you speak, the sound of your voice reverberates through your bones and the rest of your body, amplifying it.

Studies have shown that the heart rate of a fetus increases when she hears her mother’s voice.”[2] This is why it’s so soothing to them when they arrive.

And the same goes for dad’s except you have to talk more often so they can learn to recognize it, especially during the third trimester.

What Should they Listen to?

They are learning about sounds that they hear consistently and are becoming familiarized with. Experts say that simple is best but they can really listen to anything.

The options are infinite. This can be from you reading a book to them on a daily basis where they will learn the sound and rhythm of your voice, to laughing at funny jokes.

But the recommendation is that you don’t actually put the headphones on your growing belly.

They suggest that the volume of outside noise should stay at around 50 to 60 decibels, and the headphones would only make it louder (remember, they are still hearing everything else going on in your body as well). [3]

Other than that you can take a stroll through YouTube and find numerous playlists that are geared toward your growing baby.

They are Already Learning

Now that researchers are aware of the outcomes for children in the womb and that their brains are already developing, it is recommended to speak softly, stress-free, and calmly to the baby.

Melissa Wexler Gurfein, a speech pathologist in NYC discussed the research findings; “Really what it is saying is that infants are learning and tuning into the speech patterns of their first exposed language(s) earlier than was originally thought.

This may suggest the importance of the mother not only to talk during the last trimester of pregnancy but to continue to talk to her newborn from the moment of birth to help facilitate language development.”[4]

So talk on to your little one so they will know the sweet relaxing sound of your voice to soothe them when they make their much-anticipated arrival.


  1. Healthline. When Can a Fetus Hear? [Link]
  2. What to Expect. Fetal Sense of Hearing: What Your Baby Can Hear in Utero. [Link]
  3. Healthline. Womb Tunes: Music your Baby Will Love. [Link]
  4. WebMD (Mann, D.) Babies Listen and Learn While in the Womb. [Link]
Spread the love