Singing, Not Talking, Keeps Your Baby Calmer for Longer

Singing, Not Talking, Keeps Your Baby Calmer for Longer

Recent research shows that singing is a more effective way than talking, of keeping a baby calmer for longer. Find out more in this article.

Mums, have you maybe noticed that your little one is calmer when you sing rather than talk? If you have, then you've just validated the results of recent research!

Results of a new study from the University of Montreal show that babies "remained calm twice as long when listening to a song as they did when listening to speech."

Professor Isabelle Peretz, of the university's Center for Research on Brain, Music and Language says that they were particularly interested to find out how speech and singing affect a baby's emotional self-control.

She explains: "Emotional self-control is obviously not developed in infants, and we believe singing helps babies and children develop this capacity."

Thirty healthy babies aged between six and nine months were involved in the study.

We love music, naturally!

Singing, Not Talking, Keeps Your Baby Calmer for Longer

According to Science Daily, human beings are naturally fascinated by music. Adults and older kids show this "entrainment" by engaging in behaviours like foot-tapping and head-nodding.

But babies "do not synchronize their external behaviour with the music, either because they lack the requisite physical or mental ability," says Peretz.

Because of this, one of the aims of the study was to find out if babies had the mental ability -- and because they did get carried away by the  music, the researchers determined that babies "do have the mental capacity to be 'entrained.'"

Here's how they did it

Singing, Not Talking, Keeps Your Baby Calmer for Longer

Researchers wanted to make sure that the babies' reaction to the music was not impacted on by other factors, like recognition of their mums' voice.

So, first, both the speech and the music that the babies heard were produced in Turkish. This meant that both the song and language were unfamiliar.

The little ones were also not exposed to other stimuli, such as the facial expressions of their parents, who sat behind them.

Also reportedly, "infants were also exposed to recordings, rather than a live performance, to ensure comparable performances for all children and no social interactions between performer and child."

When the babies were calm, the experiment started. Both recordings (speech and song) were played until the babies showed the "cry face" -- lowered brows, lip corners pulled to the side, mouth opening and raised cheeks.

Interestingly, when the babies listened to the Turkish song, they remained calm for an average duration of nine minutes. But with speech ('baby-talk' or not), the time the babies remained without crying was only half as long as they did for songs.

Peretz says:

"Our findings leave little doubt about the efficacy of singing nursery rhymes for maintaining infants' composure for extended periods.

"Even in the relatively sterile environment of the testing room-black walls, dim illumination, no toys, and no human visual or tactile stimulation -- the sound of a woman singing prolonged infants' positive or neutral states and inhibited distress.

"These findings speak to the intrinsic importance of music, and of nursery rhymes in particular, which appeal to our desire for simplicity, and repetition."

Mums and dads, we think you'd agree that it's time to brush up on your nursery rhyme singing skills! And here's a great article from theAsianparent to help you out.

Do share your thoughts on this article in a comment below. 

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