Could music help premature babies sleep and improve breathing?

Warm up your vocal cords as it’s your voice that works best, say experts

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Music could be the key to helping premature babies sleep better, improve breathing and even aid feeding.

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US researchers looked at the effect of live music on 272 premature babies (identified as being born less than 37 weeks into pregnancy), concluding that music slowed the babies’ heart rates, subsequently making breathing easier. Sucking behaviour also improved, making feeding easier and more natural.

Researchers from the Beth Israel Hospital in New York say music needed to be slowed down in order to sound like a lullaby – a slower version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I heard it through the grapevine’ did the trick – but that of everything, your voice is best.

In fact, babies who heard a person singing ‘live’ were the most attentive and that gentle singing was the most effective way of slowing a premature baby’s heart rate.

Lead researcher Dr Lowey said, “Babies who heard songs chosen by their parents as opposed to ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ also showed better feeding behaviour,” although more oxygenation of the blood was recorded with known lullabies.

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It’s believed that the music is so effective as it mimics noises heard in the womb.

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