Before you scroll down for the ultimate get-baby-to-sleep-quick playlist; this isn’t quite what you’re looking for. Music can be soothing, sure, but it can also make baby bedtime waaayy harder than it should be. Here’s why.
While a soporific tune can indeed calm your newborn, and form part of a night-time ritual that’ll eventually cue him for shuteye, it’s important to know how to use music so that it doesn’t become a hindrance to sleep.
Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, and the director of the Behavioural Sleep Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Centre, says that music isn’t necessarily an essential component of baby’s bedtime routine. “I actually think that music is not so useful to help a baby sleep,” Schneeberg explains. “Music, if used every night, will become a ‘sleep onset association’ for the baby, and then the baby comes to depend on this music for the transition into sleep. Then, no matter where the baby sleeps – at his or her grandmother’s, at daycare, at a hotel and so on – he or she may need it there, too, so it has to be available all the time.”
Instead, Schneeberg makes a case for letting your baby fall asleep to your ordinary household soundtrack—or at least a toned-down version: ”Robust sleepers are sound sleepers,” the professor maintains.
If you’re still keen on using music, go for bland: think elevator-style music that’s soft, monotonous, and tranquil. And dim the lights, too—this really is the most powerful cue for sleep, as it signals to the brain to produce melatonin, the hormone required to switch the body into rest mode.
If music is simply to mask distracting noise, think about a white noise machine, instead: it can run continuously, so baby won’t startle if the room is suddenly silent, and also blocks ambient sound better, whilst mimicking the in-utero soundscape newborns find comforting.