Bedtime Lullabies Have a Surprising Benefit for Babies

The next time you get the urge to sing to your baby, and then you're all like, "I have a terrible voice, I should spare the poor child my warbling," think again! Apparently there is a scientific reason behind why mothers since the beginning of time have sung to their babies whether or not they could carry tune. A new study shows that that instinctual drive to burst into lullaby -- whether it's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or "My Heart Can't Tell You No" -- babies' pain levels were reduced whenever they were sung to.


Researchers in a London hospital experimented on children under the age of 3 who were waiting for heart transplants. One group of children were sung lullabies. One had books read to them. And one had nothing read or sung to them (poor babes!). Only the group that had been sung to showed a reduction in pain and heart rate. Awww.

One of the study's researchers, Professor David Hargreaves of University of Roehampton, said that the study proves that "children are affected physiologically by music" and that music therapists could be used to reduce pain instead of always relying on drugs.

It just goes to show you how much moms know without even knowing they know it. It's just instinctual to sing to your baby to soothe him when he's fussy or having a bad night. It would be totally instinctual to sing to your baby if she has hurt herself. It all makes sense now!

This follows on those studies that said talking baby talk to your baby helps her learn. Other instinctual behaviors that help your baby grow up healthy and well-adjusted: Skin to skin contact (helps baby feel safe); making googly eyes at your baby (helps the brain grow); pointing at objects you talk about (helps them learn language).

I'll never forget how irritated my mom was by a scene in the old Brooke Shields movie The Blue Lagoon, when Brooke tried to feed her baby mashed up bananas. She was insistent that breastfeeding is instinctual and Brooke would have known to put the baby up to her boob. DUH.

So moms, the next time you find yourself doing something you think is kind of odd for your baby -- maybe blowing raspberries on her stomach or nibbling her toes -- just remember there's probably some kind of good reason for it.

Did you know that lullabies help with pain? Do you sing to your child?


Image via -0-/Flickr

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