When Can Babies Hear in the Womb: Types of Sounds and FAQ's

When Can Babies Hear in the Womb?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Imagine yourself in an ocean, with your eyes closed. The first sense that awakens is sound. Because sounds travel four times faster in liquid, you will hear muffled melodies and rhythm of waves and other sounds. The first home that your child occupies is the liquid of your womb. All of their organs grow first, and finally, as their senses develop, they start hearing sounds. Similar to how we listen to sounds in the ocean, babies hear everything being transmitted to them through the liquid. The loudest and most calming sound is your heartbeat.

When Does a Foetus Start to Hear?

One of the most asked questions, one may have as a parent is, “What week can babies hear in the womb?” or “When can a baby hear in utero?”.

A foetus starts hearing sound around 16-18 weeks. It starts to respond to sound around 25 weeks.

Development of Auditory Organs

Week Growth
4-5 Embryo cells arrange themselves to develop various parts of the senses such as eyes, ears, nose.
8-9 Sections on either side of the head are arranged for the ears to grow.
16-18 Ears are fully developed to hear sounds.
23-24 Auditory organs develop further to mark sound clarity.
25-26 Recognises and reacts to sounds.


So, it is by the third trimester that your baby in the womb can recognise sounds. That’s the 2526th week. However, their ears are fully developed to hear by the 16th week.

What Type of Sounds Can a Baby Hear Inside the Womb?

As explained earlier, babies hear sound through the liquid, and that’s muffled. They hear sounds of everything that functions around them on a day-to-day basis. This includes the mother eating food, having liquids, the sound of amino fluids, digestions, breathing, the mother’s heartbeat in mixed rhythmic patterns. They also hear sounds from outside the womb, like sudden noise, music, and conversations. What they hear mostly is the melody and pattern of the sounds and not the clarity of what it might be. For instance, they can listen to the mother talking, but the words are muffled. So they may hear muffled noises in a melodic form in which languages are set.


1. Can I Play Music for My Unborn Baby?

Yes, you can. There is a strong belief that music increases the IQ of a baby in the womb. While no concrete evidence exists, there is no harm in playing music to a baby in your womb.

Can I Play Music for My Unborn Baby?

2. Can Loud Noises Damage Baby’s Sense of Hearing in the Womb?

Yes and No.

It is advised that pregnant women take precautions if they work or spend a good deal of time in noisy areas. Some places that are usually noisy are traffic areas, the constant sound of machines, aeroplanes, loud music, markets. Though voices are muffled, and the baby is well protected inside, loud noises could hinder the development of auditory organs of the baby. Wearing earplugs saves you, but the only way to protect the baby from such loudness is to stay away from it.

However, the good news is that short periods of exposure will not hurt the baby, so stay away only if it makes you uncomfortable. But for the baby, a musical night, or a day out in heavy traffic will not be harmful.

3. Can My Baby Hear and Recognise My Voice in the Womb?

Yes. To them, among all human voices, they hear their mother’s voice distinctively. As the carrier of the baby, her voice is heard from within unlike others whose voices are external. Science believes this is one of the many things that create a bond between the mother and child.

4. What Should I Do to Make Sure My Baby’s Hearing Develops Naturally?

Though the baby is well cocooned in the womb, it is best to avoid consistent exposure to unpleasant, loud noise or sound. This will ensure that no external hindrance obstructs the development of the baby’s auditory senses.

A child is safe in the womb. Any sound that it receives is filtered, and the impact is less. But constant loud noises are carried to the womb, and you also cannot neglect that it stresses out the mother’s body. It is best to stay away from such noise and, play music or sing songs to your baby in the womb. You will be surprised, at first, when your baby starts responding to certain sounds with some movement and kicks. So, let your baby sense all beautiful things made by humankind and nature, through its first recognition of sound.

Also Read: Talking to Your Unborn Baby

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