"Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast". And baby songs, classical music and other gentle melodies can soothe sick babies and speed healing.
A three-year study by the University of Western Sydney in collaboration with the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne found that playing baby songs including lullabies, light classical, and New Age melodies, to sick babies in intensive care helped calm and sustain their behavior while babies who did not have the therapy deteriorated noticeably, coping less well with their hospitalization.
40 infants were divided into groups: the first group received music therapy while in hospital the second group received no music therapy.
The first group had up to 12 sessions with a therapist singing baby songs to them. Researchers found these infants maintained the same levels of irritability and crying they had at admission.
The second group, who did not have any music therapy, showed an increase in crying and irritability as time went on.
Babies who are less irritable use less energy, which has implications for the rate of healing and weight gain which leads to shorter hospital stays.
Another study at the Yale School of Medicine showed that adult surgery patients who listened to music required much less sedation. And a 1999 study found that listening to music after surgery can reduce post-operative pain.
And everyone has experienced the power of music to create mood and feeling, you hear a sad song that immediately reminds you of a lost love, an up-tempo song from your teenage years plays on the car radio and you start driving faster, a haunting melody brings a lump to your throat, and patriotic songs inspire people to fight for their country.
Many hospitals play baby songs and classical music in their neonatal and pediatric units in order to provide a calming, healing, and soothing environment for the babies. And in Florida, all state funded pre-schools are required to play classical music to the children by law!
In every culture and every country mothers sing to their babies to help calm them and lull them to sleep (hence the word lullaby).
Babies are great listeners and are extremely attentive to their acoustical environment so search out the best baby songs, lullabies and other calming music you can find. If you can find music that you enjoy as well as your baby, it will not only help maintain your baby's health and speed healing if your baby is sick, but it will also help keep your own blood pressure down at the same time.