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Study: Babies React More To Singing Than Talking

Dorathy Gass

While new parents are prone to talk to their baby, or use light ‘shushing’ noises when they cry; according to research, singing a little tune to them will help soothe them faster than other strategies. The research, which was published in the Infancy journal, revealed babies that listened to music stayed calmer for longer periods of time, opposed to when they listened to adult speech, or even ‘baby talk’.

Co-author, Isabelle Peretz, University of Montreal and her team performed two experiments, with 30 infants, all healthy and ranging between six to nine months old. The researchers used varying tactics in their first experiment. The either spoke directly to the babies while they were calm (using adult speech or baby talk), played them recording of adult speech or baby talk, or they simply played recorded Turkish songs by a singer that the babies had never been exposed to. They chose these songs to make sure that the infants were not influenced by something they were familiar with.

The researchers played the speech or music, until the babies started to reveal a ‘cry face’. It’s important to note, the parents were with their babies during the experiment, but sat behind the infants, as not to influence their child’s reaction.

In the end, the study revealed that the babies were able to stay calm for about nine minutes with the Turkish music on, while only about four minutes when it came to the speech (whether they were listening to adult speech or baby talk). First study author Mariève Corbeil notes there was no real distinction for the babies when it came to the different types of speech, which was surprising to the team.

Medical News Today reports that the team then conducted another experiment, this time the little ones listened to a recording of their moms singing songs in a language they knew, which was French. Again, the results revealed that the babies stayed calmer, for longer, when the music was on. Interestingly enough, the second round of songs still didn’t keep the babies as calm as the Turkish music experiment. When their moms sang, the babies were calm for about six minutes, the Turkish music kept them calm for nine.

The researchers believe that it is the rhythm, versus the actual lyrics, that kept the babies calmer for longer; and this study information can go a long way for new parents, as most tend talk to their babies, rather than sing.

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