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How Music Can Help Baby Sleep

Lullabies have been used to soothe babies for centuries.

But in our digital age, when we have thousands of tunes at our fingertips, it seems that parents are making the most of all the music choices available to them. During the past decade, several universities and research houses have conducted research into music and children and some of their findings have been remarkable, to say the least.

Researchers from the University of California, for example, came up with the 'Mozart Effect', a theory that suggests a link between listening to classical music and intelligence in childhood. But whether we believe these theories or not, it is undeniable that different kinds of music can elicit different responses in babies and children.

Callum Butler playing the drums
Recently, BT commissioned research into how parents use music with their children and how it affects them. The study showed that music is still a popular way for parents to communicate with their children, particularly before they learn to speak. Over 90 per cent of those questioned in the study played music to their babies, while almost 40 per cent of those used music to help their babies to sleep.

What is most interesting about the research, however, was how parents' musical choices are becoming broader, thanks, no doubt, to the wider choice of music available to them in their homes. While nearly four fifths still believe in the power of lullabies, many are more Baby Love than Rock-a-Bye Baby, with nearly two fifths claiming to play pop, rock, folk and even heavy metal to their babies.

Having considered the results of the research, it is clear how important music is to parents and how much tastes have changed.

Five ways to make the most of music with your baby....

1. Womb service

Playing music to your baby in the womb has proved to be calming for the parent and research from the University of Leicester even suggests that babies can display recognition and preference of womb music during their first years of infancy.

2. Pop or opera?

It can be useful to observe how your child reacts to different genres of music. As well as rock and heavy metal, respondents in our study also specified a variety of more obscure tunes, from country to drum and bass and even hip-hop!

3. Moody blues

Once you have observed your child's reactions to different music, you can use this to tailor your playlist, whether it's playtime or bedtime. Our research showed that as well as helping babies to sleep, music is used to stimulate, entertain and even improve parent / child bonding.

4. Keep the beat

Encourage your child to participate proactively in the listening experience through dancing, singing or tapping the beat. Some of the parents in our study used music to improve their child's rhythm, encourage them to make speech sounds and even improve their concentration.

5. And finally, be experimental!

As we have seen, there is no accounting for your baby's taste and, unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee their taste will be the same as yours! So whether it's hip-hop, rock, rap or classical, make sure your children can form their very own musical preferences.

October 2007
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