Stop what you're doing, and test this with your baby now! Okay, we don't know if this song can get a baby to stop crying, but at least, it should provide a distraction.
U.K. baby food manufacturer Cow & Gate put together a team to create a song that’s scientifically designed (meaning it's backed up by research and data) to make a baby smile. The result is the "The Happy Song." (We know the song title seems to lack imagination, but who cares if it works.)
The science side of the team is composed of Caspar Addyman, a leading developmental psychologist, and Lauren Stewart, a musical psychologist. They analyzed existing research on sounds that engaged and excited babies. “Sounds that are plosives sounds that have got a ‘pop,' these sounds are likely to be most engaging,” says Stewart.
With the data, they found that the ultimate baby song had to be in a major key, rhythmic, repetitive, and with elements of surprise to keep little ears interested. “Energetic, social sounds like hand claps, animal noises and laughter itself create an inclusive, high-energy that babies instantly engage with,” according to the song’s website, Sound of Happy.
The researchers surmised that the song also had to be uptempo, close to a baby’s heartbeat, which is faster than an adult’s. Since previous studies had shown that babies react well to the sing-song voice that women used when around little ones, the vocals had to be sung by a female as well, explains Addyman in an article for The Conversation.
Grammy-winning composer and vocalist Imogen Heap, who also is a mom to an 18-month-old girl, created snippets of sample songs based on the study. “The secret was to make it silly and make it social,” says Heap.
These samples were then tested on babies to see which they liked the best. “Whenever you’re testing babies there is always going to be a lot of variation. That's what we account for. If on top of all of that you still get a clear preference that's a strong result,” says Addyman. The music was expanded, tested again to see which parts didn’t do so well, and tweaked again. Until finally, a song was born.
Whether "The Happy Song" is fool-proof or not, we leave up to you, but our ears say it has potential. Filled with sounds, like “beep beep” and “wee,” it makes for a fun little ditty to dance and sing with the baby. “Happiness is a shared emotion, and the success of nursery rhymes is that they are interactive,” says Addyman.
Commenting on the music video for the song (the one above), one mom said, “My son cries when it ends, he loves this.” And it looks like it works even if baby doesn't understand the words. “My children don't speak English and they just love this song,” says another parent.
Heck, even adults love it, “It calms my baby every single time I play it. I constantly find myself singing it even when I'm not with my baby. It's pretty catchy!” commented a user.
And if it doesn’t work for your baby, the C&G Baby Club UK suggests playing it a couple of times until your baby has warmed up to it a little. For on-the-go playing, here’s the song on Spotify.