The magic power of a mother’s voice has long been documented; a newborn can pick out mum’s unique coos from a myriad strangers, and is instantly soothed by her dulcet tones. Research even shows how a baby’s brain development speeds up in response to the maternal utterances. Now, a new study reveals that when a mum sings to her child in the womb, he is likely to cry less once born.
A study carried out at the University of Milan analysed 170 pregnant women, splitting them into two groups. The first group sung lullabies to their baby in the months immediately prior to and after birth, and the second group did not. The researchers discovered that infants in the ‘singing group’ cried 18.5% of the time, compared to 28.2% of those in the control group. Babies with colic who had been exposed to their mothers’ singing prenatally and postpartum also cried less than the control group’s test subjects (25%).
Using the ‘mother-to-infant bonding scale’, a scientific measurement cataloguing hours of baby’s sleep, and occurrences of crying and colic, the research team also found postnatal bonding to be higher within the singing group – 1.96 over 1.28.
The study’s authors concluded, “Mothers singing lullabies could improve maternal-infant bonding. It could also have positive effects on neonatal behaviour and maternal stress.”
FYI, your unborn babe probably won’t judge you if you’re tone-deaf, or have tragic penchant for ageing boy-band ballads — but reading to him can work just as many of the above wonders as singing (and keep the integrity of his first auditory experiences intact).