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A Musical Way to Help Babies Sleep

by Kimberly on October 13, 2010 · 3 comments

I love podcasts. I’ve written about my favorite podcasts before, and now I have another to add to the list! Earlier this summer, I was introduced to the “Music and the Brain” podcast published by the Library of Congress. They don’t post new episodes often, but when they do, they’re quality and highly informative.

The latest episode featured a well-known and highly respected music therapy researcher and professor at Florida State University, Dr. Jayne Standley. I have not met Dr. Standley, nor had I heard her speak. Let me tell you…I was impressed!

Although she talked about many interesting things, there was one point in particular that, as a mother, I wish I thought of and used!

Here’s the deal–starting about halfway through pregnancy, a babies begins to hear and “remember” what they hear from the womb. We know they “remember” because babies prefer their mother’s voice, which is the one they’ve heard the most in utero. It’s also one of those reasons that playing music on the belly is so popular (though this is unnecessary—babies hear what you hear, so no need for headphones on the belly).

Now “remembering” information also means that the baby’s brain changed and developed to learn and store that memory. So how about this for an idea? Some babies have difficulty sleeping for long periods of time. It’s a major cause of fatigue, complaining, and an increase in coffee consumption for new parents (though not the latter if you’re nursing. Kinda sucks, actually…).

But what if a pregnant woman tries this: in your last trimester of pregnancy, listen to a lullaby when you fall asleep. The same lullaby every night. Since we know that babies “remember” auditory information heard in utero, chances are their brains will begin to associate that lullaby with relaxation and sleep.

Then, after the baby is born, play that same lullaby at night when it’s time to relax and fall asleep. If this works, then the music will cue the baby that it’s time to sleep. And the baby will.

That was only one bit of information in a very wonderful interview (that included cool information about using music in the NICU). Click hear to listen to the entire episode.

Updated Resources

I’m working to get in the habit of updating the Resource of the Month and the Video of the Month…well, monthly! Check out this month’s features:

  • The Music Therapy Round Table podcast I co-host with Rachel Rambach and Michelle Erfurt is part of the AMTA Silent Auction! You’ll have the opportunity to be a guest-co-host and have a free one-hour coaching session with the 3 of us. Bidding has started: click here to learn more!
  • I’ve updated the video on the left-hand sidebar: my first music and the brain song, the Neurodevelopment song. Enjoy!
  • In case you were wondering…that’s my daughter in the picture. Fast asleep. Almost 2 years ago 🙂

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie Kocel October 13, 2010 at 11:13 am

She is a wealth of information!!! When I was completing my specialized training in NICU MT, she blew me away. We were fortunate enough to have her spend more time than usual with us at the Florida Hospital when we completed our hands-on training. What I enjoyed the most is seeing her get fired up over a topic she is passionate about. If only I had half the amount of brain cells she uses on a daily basis.

Kimberly October 19, 2010 at 10:43 am

That’s a great testimony, Valerie! I heard her passion in the interview and have no doubt it’s doubly apparent in real life! ~Kimberly

Tricia November 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm

The one thing that makes me say “huh?” about that, is that most expectant moms have the experience that as soon as they lie down to try and sleep, their babies go into some sort of kick boxing routine. So might that strategy backfire, if baby associates that music with you lying down and HIM getting up and active?

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