According to a study recently published in the journal Infancy, singing is better than talking when trying to clam a baby down. The new findings suggest that a simple gesture as singing a lullaby is twice as effective in soothing crying infants.
Researchers explained that babies seem to be carried away by music just like their parents are. Plus, music helps small children develop a skill called emotional self-control, which they need to develop throughout childhood. But depriving them of music when they show signs of distress may make it harder for them to acquire the skill.
Prof. Isabelle Peretz, co-author of the study and researcher with the University of Montreal, said that past studies on the music’s effects on babies’ mood didn’t take into account the ability.
Infants generally lack emotional self-control, and singing not speaking seems to help them develop the ability. This finding may prove useful to working mothers that feel they have no time to take a break and sing a lullaby to their children. Modern women nowadays usually try to pacify their kids by shushing them or baby talking to them. Yet, the recent research revealed that both methods are half as effective as singing.
Additionally, signing does not only help the child; it also helps parents. Other studies had shown that singing reduces stress and the sense of frustration a crying baby may bring. When there seems to be no way of soothing a distressed child many parents tend to become so angry or frustrated that they fail to properly respond to their babies’ need for comforting.
Researchers recommend parents to simply play a recording of a vocal song if they aren’t in the mood to sing. The study involved 30 infants with the maximum age of 9 months. All of them responded better to songs when distressed than to recordings of human speech or baby talk.
The effect of music was so profound that the babies were pacified for a longer period of time even if the songs were in a language that babies weren’t accustomed with. For instance, listening to music pacified infants for 9 minutes, while listening to speech including baby talk calmed them down for just four minutes.
The study challenges the commonly held belief that baby talk may pacify babies better than adult talk. The effect was the same. Moreover, there was no change in the time babies remained calm when researchers used songs in the infants’ mother language or featuring their mothers’ voices.
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