Bring Your Best Lullaby Or Live Music To Help Your Preemie In The NICU

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shutterstock_101106997 (1)When parents have a child in the NICU they often try their hardest to make the best out of a tough situation. Whether it’s decorating the incubator or simply visiting every day and letting their baby know that they are near. But according to a study, it may also be helpful for parents of preemies to add singing sweet lullabies to their repertoire.

The study coordinated by researchers at Beth Israel Hospital in New York shows that live music that is either sung or played to premature babies has many positive effects on their development. Researchers tested 272 preemies in 11 NICUs who had a wide range of health issues, and positive results were seen across the board.

When the preemies in intensive care listened to live music, they showed measurable improvements in heart rate, sucking behavior, sleep patterns and calorie intake, according to the study. In addition, music helped parents and babies bond, and eased the stress of mothers and fathers.

Researchers believe that live music is key and that recorded music would not have the same effect. In this study the babies were subjected to three different types of live music.

One involved a Remo ocean disc, which is an instrument that produces a soothing “whoosh” sound; and another intervention involved a gato box, which is a drumlike wooden box that is played softly with the fingers. The ocean disc mimics the sound of the in utero enviroment, the researchers said, and could have a soothing, sleep-enhancing effect, while the gato box would sound like a mother’s heartbeat.

The third form was music being sung to the babies by their parents. The study found that each form of music had some positive affect on the baby’s health. The babies who were sung to by their parents became more alert, the gato box improved the babies’ sucking which aids in their swallowing and eating, and remo disk was shown to help the babies sleep better.

What the study really brings to light is that interaction of parents and their babies in the NICU can be vital in improving the baby’s health. It also proves that it’s never too early for a baby to hear Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

(photo: Fotonium / Shutterstock)