Music has been known to stimulate infants’ brain long before they come out into the real world. Babies process and respond to rhythm and melodies in many ways words do not. You can use music to calm your little one, and recently, there's a song that claims to make your baby happy. And as you play music to your child, go ahead and let your vocal chords do some stretching.
Several types of research have backed up the claim that a mother's voice is special to a child. Now researchers have discovered a unique way a baby can benefit from hearing his or her mother's singing voice. According to a new study, a mother singing a favorite song to her baby -- also called infant-directed singing -- could help boost his attention span and contribute to strengthening the bond between mother and child.
Researchers filmed 70 babies responding to six different interactions: a mother singing an assigned song to her baby; a "stranger" singing the mom’s designated song to the baby; the mother singing another song of choice; a mom reading a book to her baby; a mother playing with a toy with her baby; and lastly both the mom and baby listening to recorded music. The findings show that a mother singing to her baby is just as useful as reading a book in maintaining infant attention – and its way better than just listening to any song.
"High cognitive scores during infant-directed singing suggested that engagement through song is just as effective as book reading or playing with a toy, and far more effective than listening to recorded music," Shannon de l'Etoile, professor of Music Therapy and associate dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, said in a press release.
However, when the researchers looked at the role of the mother in infant-directed singing and the makeup of her voice and her song, it showed that while a mother’s voice is unique, the mother's instincts were also on high alert when her child was engaged during the song. When the baby gets bored or shows less engagement, the mother also adjusted her singing pitch, tempo, and a key to maintaining her child's attention.
"Mothers around the world sing to their infants in remarkably similar ways, and infants prefer these specialized songs," de l’Etoile said. "The tempo and key certainly don't need to be perfect or professional for mothers and infants to interact through song. In fact, infants may be drawn to the personalized tempo and pitch of their mother, which encourage them to direct their gaze toward and ultimately communicate through this gaze," she added.
The study, published in the Journal of Music Therapy, also showed that the positive vibes a baby gets from hearing her mom sing a song goes both ways, especially for moms who are suffering from postpartum depression. Through song, the infants get their much-needed sensory stimulation that can focus their attention and modulate their arousal, while moms also experience much-needed distraction from the negative emotions and thoughts associated with depression, while also feeling empowered as a parent.
It may be too early to confirm as the study size is small and it's in its infancy. However, music therapy has been backed up by several studies; it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. If you're pregnant, you can already start singing your song to you baby in your womb and continue to do so when your little one is finally in your arms.
Do you have a song your always sing to your child? Share it with us and why you chose that song. Send us a message on Facebook.