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The Emotional Development of the Baby in the Womb

By Lauren Farrelly ; Updated October 25, 2017

Many pediatric experts believe that the emotional development of a child begins well before the baby is born. As the baby develops in the womb during pregnancy, the baby is able to better recognize voices and sounds outside the mother's body. These sounds and voices, as well as the mother's overall mood--whether she is happy or stressed or upset--can help mold the child's emotional state.

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Beginning of emotion

Babies are believed to begin emotional development around the sixth month of pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and The Mayo Clinic. At this time a child's hearing has developed nearly all the way, and the baby is much more conscious of its surroundings inside the womb. During this stage of pregnancy, a baby also starts moving. A mother can probably feel kicks and movement on a regular basis, and the baby may even begin to respond to voices, singing or music with a kick or push in the womb.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents read, sing, talk and play music for their baby inside the womb. It is believed that cognitive development starts inside the womb, and hearing music and parents' voices helps develop a baby's emotional state.

In addition, many researchers believe that hearing a mother's and father's voices regularly before birth helps babies learn who their parents are so that those voices can better soothe them after they are born. The Mayo Clinic has also published several studies showing that babies who are read, played music, sung or spoken to regularly have shown signs of being calmer babies, and may have a better emotional connection with their parents or caregivers.


Emotional development is very important to a baby's overall health. If a mother is under a great deal of stress, or becomes upset during pregnancy, the baby can feel this emotion. A baby is inextricably connected to the mother, and everything the mother feels, the baby feels as well. It is important for a mother to stay relaxed and as stress-free as possible during pregnancy.

After birth, new conditions and experiences expand babies' emotional development. Then they are able to realize when they need comfort, are hungry, or need to be changed. All of this is new territory, and helping identify your newborn's needs will help keep the baby emotionally satisfied.


Many researchers believe that a mother's emotional state, as well as reading, talking, singing and playing music, can help create a calmer, happier baby upon birth. While this has been debated over years, many parents and experts believe that these actions and conditions do make a difference. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that a baby's emotional state begins developing well before the baby's birth, and continues to develop well into their first few years of life.

There has also been debate as to what should be read or what music should be played for a baby while in the womb. Some favor soothing music, and some believe that reading only baby stories is best. However, keep in mind that its not what you say but how you say it. Reading to a child in the womb is a great way to connect with your child well before birth.

Emotional Developments

The types of emotions that are developed in the womb vary. Babies in the womb are believed to be able to recognize love, happiness, sadness and stress. Talking or playing music is believed to comfort a baby in the womb, and help the baby understand the emotion of love. Hearing voices outside the womb will also help the baby determine the difference between happiness and sadness based on pitch and sound level of voices. In addition, the emotion or feeling of stress is evident in the baby if the mother is also under stress. A rise in the mother's blood pressure will trigger a response in the baby's blood pressure as well.

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About the Author

Lauren Farrelly has been writing and producing for television since 2003. She has experience covering sports, business news and general news events for CNBC, ESPN and Bleacher Report. Farrelly has a BA in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

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