A Study of Song: The Benefits of Singing to Your Baby
The other day, while washing the breakfast dishes, I start humming to myself. Before I knew it, I had gotten a bit carried away and was doing a full-on, soap-filled rendition of Taylor Swift's “Shake It Off.”
Suddenly, a loud shout stopped me in my tracks. My 2-year-old son was pointing a forkful of scrambled eggs at me and shouting something.
“What?” I cried. “What's wrong?”
He looked seriously at me, fork still in hand. “Mama. Stop,” he demanded clearly.
My 2-year-old may not appreciate my musical talents, but one new study shows that there may be more benefit to singing to your children than you may realize.
The study out of Meir Hospital in Israel looked at babies in the neonatal intensive care unit and found that the babies whose mothers held them with skin-to-skin care and sang to them had better health outcomes than mothers who just held them.
Although skin-to-skin care, or kangaroo care, is known for its health benefits, especially for premature babies, the study revealed that the kangaroo care alone wasn't as beneficial as actually singing to babies. When the mothers sang, the babies' heart rates were more stable. The mothers themselves also registered with less anxiety during the singing, which may have in turn made the infants more calm as well.
And even if your baby is not premature or you aren't as fond as belting out a little Taylor Swift as I am, there are major benefits to being vocal with your newborn.
“Being vocal in any way is beneficial to babies,” notes Michael Zollicoffer, M.D., a pediatrician at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. “It's the vocal resonance and the interaction that helps the babies with their development.”
But whatever you do, don't make talking or singing with your baby another “to-do.” It can–and should be–a fun and relaxing time for both you and your baby. When you are both enjoying interacting together, the benefits will come. “Let development be natural!” says Dr. Zollicoffer.
Do you sing to your baby?