They say music is good for the soul, and in recent studies researchers found it’s also therapy for premature and sick babies.
Recent studies and anecdotal reports suggest the vibrations and soothing rhythms of music might benefit preemies and sick babies. Especially for those preemies that are too small to be held. Researchers say that music can help them adapt to life outside the womb.
“Live music is optimal because it’s in the moment and can adapt to changing conditions,” Dr. Jayne M. Standley said. “If the baby appears to be falling asleep, you can sing quieter. Recorded music can’t do that. But there are so many premature babies and so few trained live producers of music therapy that it’s important to know what recorded music can do.”
Dr. Jayne M. Standley, a professor of medical music therapy at Florida State University, developed the Pacifier Activated Lullaby, which is a pacifier that plays recordings of women singing when infants suck correctly, speeding up the babies’ ability to feed independently.
Research suggests it may relieve stressed infants, calm their breathing, and improve sucking and sleeping. Some studies have even said it can help them go home sooner.
Dr. Natalia Henner, a newborn specialist at Lurie hospital, said studies show music therapy for preemies “does help with promoting growth. And there’s some good literature saying that the time to discharge is a little bit shorter in babies who’ve been exposed to more music therapy.”
Joanne Loewy, a music therapist who directs a music and medicine program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York led a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, involving 11 U.S. hospitals. Therapists in the study played special small drums to mimic womb sounds and timed the rhythm to match the infants’ heartbeats. The music appeared to slow the infants’ heartbeats, calm their breathing, and improve sucking and sleeping, Loewy said.
“What music therapy can uniquely provide is that passive listening experience that just encourages relaxation for the patient, encourages participation by the family,” says Chicago’s Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, music therapist Elizabeth Klinger after a recent session in a hospital room.
“A lot of times families become afraid of interacting with their children because they are so sick and so frail, and music provides them something that they can still do,” Klinger said, who works full time as a music therapist but her services are provided for free.
Music Therapy for Preemies
New research finds that live music played for premature babies can be beneficial, calming their heart rate and breathing, and helping their sleep and sucking ability.
Prenatal Stimulation with Music
This video shows how music impact on a new born baby of 10 hours life after her mom pregnancy treatment with music therapy.