Researchers have found that playing live music to prematurely born babies can slow their heartbeat and make them breathe more easily.
The sound of their parent singing or an instrument playing can help a newborn sleep better and puts them in a quietly attentive state. The research coordinated by Beth Israel Hospital in New York across 11 American hospitals found the effect was true regardless of which song was played, although the tracks had to be slowed down to sound like a lullaby. Mothers of 272 premature babies worked with music therapists for several sessions over two weeks using either two instruments, singing or no music.
A premature baby is one that is born less than 37 weeks into the pregnancy and the UK has the highest rates of these births among Europe. Study leader, Dr Joanne Loewy, revealed all music had a beneficial effect; singing was most effective at slowing the baby’s heart rate and made the baby most attentive, whilst breathing was slowed the most by ocean music, and sucking behaviour improved the most with the gato box (a wooden drum).