Crying babies will calm down to listen to good music

Crying babies will calm down to listen to good music

It turns out, babies like hearing music as much as anyone. Infants will remain calm to listen to a good melody and remain so for longer afterwards, compared with hushing and baby talking.

Baby talk is often the go-to choice for trying to quiet a crying infant. However, new research indicates that singing is far more effective.

It turns out, babies like hearing music as much as anyone. Infants will remain calm to listen to a good melody and remain so for longer afterwards, compared with hushing and baby talking.

“These findings speak to the intrinsic importance of music, and of nursery rhymes in particular, which appeal to our desire for simplicity, and repetition,” said first author Marieve Corbeil.

The recent study, published in Infancy, initially tried to determine if the brains of babies were developed enough to be entertained by good music. The researchers from the University of Montreal conducted two experiments on 30 healthy infants, aged six to nine months old. They strove to understand what sounds caught the babies attention what emotional responses the sounds evoked.

‘Many studies have looked at how singing and speech affect infants’ attention, but we wanted to know how they affect a baby’s emotional self-control,” said lead researcher Professor Isabelle Peretz. ‘Emotional self-control is obviously not developed in infants, and we believe singing helps babies and children develop this capacity.’

In the first experiment, the children listened to prerecorded sound bites- to ensure that there was no social interaction- including baby-talk, normal adult speech and Turkish music. Each baby had to listen to the recording until they displayed a cry face.

In the second experiment, the babies listened to recordings of their mothers singing in French, a familiar language in Canada.

The tests revealed that a baby could remain calm for up to nine minutes while listening to music; it could do so for only about four minutes while listening to speech, regardless of language or ‘baby talk’.

“Although infant distress signals typically prompt parental comforting interventions, they induce frustration and anger in some at-risk parents, leading to insensitive responding and, in the worst cases, to infant neglect or abuse,” said Professor Peretz. “At risk parents within the purview of social service agencies could be encouraged to play vocal music to infants and, better still, to sing to them.”

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