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When can the baby hear Dad’s voice in the womb?

Quick Summary

Babies begin hearing sounds at around 18 weeks gestation. However, they respond most to low pitched tones which are easier to hear in utero. Dad’s lower voice will likely be heard and responded to earlier than mom’s higher pitched voice. While the fetus can hear dad’s voice starting around 18 weeks, they can recognize it and remember it at around 30-32 weeks gestation. By the third trimester, reading, singing, and talking to baby helps build critical language connections in their developing brain.

When Does a Fetus Begin Hearing Sounds?

The fetus begins to develop hearing around 18 weeks gestation. However, the uterine environment muffles higher frequency sounds. This means the fetus can hear low-pitched noises more easily at first. By 25 weeks gestation, as their ear bones harden and the auditory cortex develops, babies can hear most frequencies. But loud, rhythmic, low-pitch noises like a heartbeat, resonate best through the amniotic fluid early on.

18 Weeks Gestation

At 18 weeks, the cochlea and auditory nerves have developed enough for hearing to begin. The uterus insulates babies from loud external noises. But loud internal rhythmic noises like the mother’s heartbeat and gurgling digestive system surround the fetus. Familiar voices speaking close to the belly may also be audible at normal volumes. The sound is muffled but 18 weeks marks the start of their hearing development.

25 Weeks Gestation

By week 25, the outer, middle, and inner ear structures have hardened. Hearing becomes clearer and more sensitive. The fetus can hear a broader range of sound frequencies. Louder external noises like music through headphones placed on the belly become more audible. The fetus also begins responding to noises with increased heart rate and movement.

When Can a Baby Recognize Dad’s Voice?

While the fetus may hear noises starting from 18 weeks, they cannot remember and recognize voices until around 30-34 weeks gestation. Neurological connections for memory and language processing develop during the third trimester. Talking and reading out loud to the baby stimulates learning before birth.

30-32 Weeks Gestation

Between weeks 30-32 the parts of the brain that process language are developing rapidly. Babies begin memorizing the voices they hear most often. Studies show newborns show preference for their mother’s voice at birth. They can also recognize their father’s voice, or any voices heard frequently during pregnancy. Starting daily routines like reading stories or singing lullabies helps baby recognize and remember dad’s voice.

35-37 Weeks Gestation

From weeks 35-37 the fetus is practicing listening skills needed after birth. Babies can hear well, remember voices, and respond to familiar sounds. Talking and reading to the baby for 30 minutes a day during these final weeks can improve baby’s language development starting right after birth. Newborns may even recognize and prefer familiar nursery rhymes or songs dad sang before birth.

How Loud Does Dad Need to Speak?

The uterine environment naturally amplifies deeper, lower frequency noises while insulating baby from sudden loud external sounds. This means a deep male voice at a normal speaking volume is ideal. Some studies show fetal heart rates remain unchanged when the male voice is 80-85 decibels. For perspective, normal conversations are 60 decibels and city traffic noise is 85 decibels.

Week 18-25

From 18-25 weeks gestation, aim for a normal speaking voice around 60-65 decibels. Baby is just developing hearing and loud noises may startle them. Place your mouth close to mom’s belly so baby can hear the rhythmic, low tones of your voice.

Week 25-32

From weeks 25-32, try speaking slightly louder at 70-80 decibels. Baby’s ear structures have hardened and hearing sharpens. Use an expressive, animated voice to capture baby’s interest. Gradually increase to normal speaking volume (60-65 decibels) by week 32.

Week 32-Birth

From week 32 until birth, the fetus has clear hearing and responds best to a normal speaking voice around 60-65 decibels. Speak clearly and use verbal and tonal cues. The rhythm of your voice prepares baby’s developing brain for processing language after birth.

How Close Should Dad Get to Mom’s Belly?

It’s ideal to speak within 12 inches of mom’s bare belly. This focuses your voice vibrations directly on the amniotic fluid for clearest sound transmission. Get as close as comfort allows starting around 18 weeks when hearing begins. Lifting and speaking directly into the bare belly helps too.

18-25 Weeks Gestation

Get your face close, within 6 inches of mom’s bare belly while speaking softly. Lifting your partner’s shirt to place your mouth next to the belly helps focus the sound vibrations to baby’s developing ears. As long as mom agrees, try kissing or humming directly on her bare skin.

25-32 Weeks Gestation

From 25 weeks on baby can hear well from a foot or two away through clothes and the uterine wall. But speaking within 6-12 inches of mom’s bare belly transmits clearest sound to baby. At such a close range, aim for a normal speaking volume unless mom feels discomfort.

32 Weeks to Birth

Continue speaking within 6-12 inches of mom’s bare belly multiple times a day. Baby knows your voice and wants to hear you often. Even through clothes, normal volume speech aimed toward the belly is ideal for continued language development. Say baby’s name and read books, sing songs, or have conversations.

When is the Best Time of Day for Dad to Speak to Baby?

Aim to talk and read to baby at the same time each day for 5-30 minutes. This establishes a routine helping baby link dad’s voice with feelings of comfort and security. The ideal times are when mom and baby are most relaxed.


Early morning after waking up can be an ideal calming time for mom and baby. Blood sugar and hormone levels help regulate baby’s energy levels after the night’s sleep. Sit with mom and greet baby cheerfully with some lullabies, stories or singing. Establish this as part of the morning routine.

After Meals

The fetus is lulled by movements of the digestive system after mom eats. Take advantage of this calmer time to talk or read out loud. Place your hands gently on mom’s belly to feel baby’s sleepy responses. Reading or singing works well during digestion when baby feels most soothed.


A bedtime routine of lullabies, stories or soothing conversation establishes stability. The fetus associates dad’s nightly voice with relaxation as mom winds down for sleep. Peaceful time together right before bed benefits parents too. Make this a habit and baby knows its time to sleep when dad sings goodnight.

Gestation Week Voice Volume Proximity to Belly
18-25 weeks 60-65 decibels within 6 inches
25-32 weeks 70-80 decibels 6-12 inches
32 weeks-birth 60-65 decibels 6-12 inches

Daily & Weekly Routine for Dad’s Voice

Making dad’s voice a consistent part of baby’s routine in the womb provides comfort, security and supports language development.

Third Trimester Weekdays

Aim for two 30 minute dad voice sessions on weekdays such as:

  • Morning wake up songs & lullabies
  • Pre-bedtime stories and belly rubs

Also talk to baby throughout the day during meals, bath time, chore time etc.

Third Trimester Weekends

Increase weekend bonding sessions to 1-2 hours such as:

  • Longer bedtime stories or worship songs
  • Listening to a sports game or music together
  • Reading baby books or singing nursery rhymes

Third Trimester Daily Consistency

Keep dad’s voice a constant by:

  • Calling home on lunch breaks to say hello
  • Voicemail recordings of well wishes
  • Videos of dad chatting or reading a book

This regular exposure helps baby feel loved.

How Dad’s Involvement Benefits Baby

Research shows involved dads who talk, read, sing, and interact with baby in the womb provide many benefits:

Language Skills

Hearing dad’s voice daily builds neural pathways for communication. Babies enter the world prepared to recognize the voices important to them.

Emotional Development

Dad’s loving involvement fosters feelings of comfort, security, and attachment. This aids emotional, social and cognitive development.

Lower Stress

Soothing, rhythmic noises from dad decrease stress hormones like cortisol in the womb. This improves neurological development.

Healthy Delivery

Studies show lower risk of prematurity and increased APGAR scores in babies whose dads talked and read in utero.

Postpartum Bonding

Familiar voices help babies adjust after birth. Dad’s involvement leads to more breastfeeding success, less colic and better sleep.

Fun Ways for Dad to Bond Before Birth

In addition to talking, there are lots of fun ways for expectant dads to bond with babies in the womb:

Belly Play

Gently poke around baby’s feet and hands bulging from mom’s belly. Ask “where’s baby?” when you rub and see if they poke back.

Music Time

Make playlists of songs you’d like to share with baby from lullabies to favorite bands. Play music on a speaker right on mom’s belly.


Read children’s books, scriptures, poetry or make up imaginative tales. Use sound effects and animation to bring stories to life.

Mirror Mom

Place your hands on her belly as she rubs lotion on after a shower. Follow along as baby moves under your hands.

Belly Kisses

Gently kiss all over mom’s bare belly saying how much you love her and baby. This triggers happy hormones like oxytocin, bonding all three of you.


Expectant fathers play a vital role in pregnancy wellbeing and development. Daily reading, singing, talking and bonding through mom’s belly stimulates baby’s auditory learning, memory, language processing and comfort. Taking time to interact with unique daddy voices and styles prepares baby for communicating in the outside world. By making dad’s voice a consistent part of the daily routine, babies reap developmental benefits starting in the womb, leading to more positive delivery and postpartum outcomes. Strong foundations for father-child bonding begin even before birth.