The Unexpected Reason Pregnant Women Should Sing Lullabies to Their Bumps


pregnant woman smiling at her baby bump

When you're pregnant, there's seemingly no end to the advice people give you about how to make your unborn baby healthier and more strongly bonded to you. When I was pregnant with my first child, I vividly remember playing classical music because I heard it would make her smarter, and taking turns with my husband as we read bedtime stories to my belly so she'd get used to the sounds of our voices. It's hard to say if any of these tips and tricks are actually worth the effort, but if I were pregnant right now, I'd definitely give this one a try. A study just found that singing lullabies to your unborn baby actually makes them cry less once they're born.


Researchers at the University of Milan recently recruited 170 pregnant women to see how singing lullabies would affect their unborn children. They divided the women into two groups and instructed one group to sing lullabies throughout the last three months of their pregnancies and after their babies were born. The other group was not asked to sing at all. What they ended up finding is that babies born to the lullaby-singing moms spent significantly less time crying than infants in the other group.

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Their results, which were published in the journal Women and Birth earlier this week, show babies who were sung to cried about 18.5 percent of the time during their first three months of life. Meanwhile, babies in the control group cried about 28.2 percent of the time.

In case 9.7 percent less crying time isn't enough to make you start belting out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," researchers also found babies who were sung to had a slightly lower incidence of colic and 3.2 percent fewer night wakings -- which isn't much, but, as any new parent will tell you, we'll take what we can get.

Most importantly, moms who sang lullabies while their babies were in the womb had higher levels of postnatal bonding, as measured by the Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale (MIBS), which is used to measure maternal attachment following many hospital births. The study's authors concluded singing lullabies could "have positive effects on neonatal behaviour and maternal stress" -- presumably because you're less stressed out when your baby isn't crying all the time.

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The study had a pretty small sample size, so it's safe to say your mileage may vary. Still, the results are pretty compelling for something as simple as singing a few songs. Every day, it seems, pregnant women are asked to make even more changes to their diets, give up an increasingly long list of products, work out even when they feel like puking, and make hard sacrifices for the benefit of their unborn babies. Singing lullabies is a low-maintenance request that most of us can probably pull off.

Even if your singing voice sounds like a donkey with bronchitis, chances are you can still eek out a few verses of "Rock-a-Bye Baby." And, given the positive results of this study, why not? It may not result in the totally zen infant of your dreams -- let's be honest, all babies cry -- but it's still a meaningful way to connect with your little one that could make those early newborn days just a little bit easier.

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