Your baby is fussing. What do you do? Stop the "baby talk" and start singing!
A recent study found that infants remained calm for twice as long when listening to a song as they did when listening to speech — even when it wasn’t in their own language.
The University of Montreal study, which involved 30 healthy babies ages 6 to 9 months, explored how singing and speech affect a baby’s emotional self-control. With their parents sitting behind them, the babies listened to recordings of either songs or speech. The researchers measured the time that lapsed until the babies displayed the "cry face" — a sign of distress.
When listening to music, the babies remained calm for an average of nine minutes, while they only stayed calm for about four minutes when listening to either normal adult speech or baby talk.
To ensure the infants’ reaction to the music wasn’t influenced by other factors, such as sensitivity to their mother’s voice, the researchers used an unfamiliar song and language. The effect was the same when they tested again using familiar language.
The researchers concluded that singing helps babies and children develop the capacity for emotional self-control. The findings may lead to new ways to help at-risk parents who struggle emotionally to better soothe their infants.
This isn’t the first time scientists have studied the beneficial effects of music for babies and children. A 2012 study found that very early musical training benefits children even before they can walk or talk. Specific benefits may include improved mood, cognitive skills, brain development and parent-child bonding.
Moms, it’s time to brush up on your nursery rhymes. It could be your best remedy yet when your baby starts fussing. Check out these popular nursery rhymes and lullabies.
Learn about the Family Birthing Center at Edward-Elmhurst.
What songs do you sing to your baby? Tell us what works for you!
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