AIt is a common misconception to believe that your baby grows in the womb in a neutral state of unconsciousness. Today, because of technology, you can now see your baby as he interacts with his inner and outer world.

Mothers have long recognized that their baby is learning and actively responding, both to his environment within the womb, and the imposition of social stimulation and input from the world at large. In fact, from four months on in utero, your baby is both learning your language, recognizing and responding to your voice, while hearing all the body systems – such as the sound of your heart beating, your blood rushing, and various internal processes such as gas, hiccups, etc. Your baby hears all of this through the muffled echo of your body and vocal cords.

Further, ambient sounds from your social environment also reach your baby through music, singing, conversation, reading and loud noises. Your baby also reacts to light and shadow, reflected from the outside – for example, when your OBGYN examines you, and shines a light into your uterus.

Moreover, if you are happy, dancing and laughing, your baby will respond in kind by jumping up and down in the womb, kicking and moving around, especially responding to your rhythm, beat, and joyful attitude.  

Additionally, your baby will reach for things that invade his space, such as the amniocentesis needle that perforates the uterus in an effort to extract amnio fluid from the placenta. Your baby also demonstrates a range of emotions including anger.

If twins are growing together, they interact expressing joy and love as well as frustration and aggression. For instance, twins will move their placentas together so that they touch one another through the thin membrane separating them.  

Your baby is especially responsive to your voice.  At 4 months on, he begins to learn your language. He hears the meter and rhythm of that language through the muffled sound of the womb. Thus, by the seventh month, your baby is so attached to your voice, that if you speak to him in a calm and soothing way, you can affect his mood.

There have been many studies to corroborate your baby’s connection to your voice, in particular. In one such study, babies were given pacifiers attached to a voice recorder. When a baby heard his mother’s voice, as opposed to any other female voice, he reacted by increasing his sucking on the pacifier. Ultimately, the baby even adapted his sucking rate to the rhythm of his mother’s voice, in an effort to manipulate the distinct voice of his mother, as opposed to the voices of any other.  

This work by William Fifer, Ph.D. at Columbia University, demonstrates not only your baby’s attachment to your voice, but also, the capacity of your baby to learn and adapt rapidly. (source: Laura Flynn Mccarthy, What Babies Learn in the Womb).  

On the other hand, babies do not connect to their fathers, siblings or other voices, in the same way. So, although your baby may have heard the voices of his father, siblings, and others through the womb – perhaps by reading bedtimes stories and singing lullabies – he still has a unique and special attachment to your voice. Of course, it is your voice specifically that is heard for nine months, as it resonates through your abdomen and vocal cords, bonding with baby.  

In my next blog post, I’ll explore your baby’s world in utero further.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.