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Can’t Calm Your Crying Baby? Scientists Say Singing May Help

Can’t Calm Your Crying Baby? Scientists Say Singing May Help

Keeping a baby calm can be one of the most stressful things for a parent or caretaker to do. The baby is unable to communicate their needs. There are many tears, and only some of them are from the baby. Studies have been trying to discover whether singing is a key to combatting some of the fussiness. If singing does work, how does that stack up against just talking to your infant to calm them?

Study findings

A study done in Montreal found that babies remained calm for twice as long when listening to singing compared to talking. Talking was tested both in “baby talk” as well as adult talk to see if there was significance in the tone of the communications. According to professor Isabelle Peretz, “Many studies have looked at how singing and speech affect infants’ attention, but we wanted to know how they affect a baby’s emotional self-control.” Peretz works in the University of Montreal’s Center for Research on Brain, Music and Language.

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What is entrainment?

“Entrainment” is the word that the study researchers use for the reactions that adults and children have to music. This reaction is visible when you see a foot tapping, fingers drumming or dancing to the music. Babies don’t have the capability to move to the beat, leading researchers to believe they could not be “entrained.” If infants cannot be “entrained,” will the music have any affect on them whatsoever? This question was posed from these observations of the different way ages respond to music.

How was the study conducted?

The babies listened to talking and music in the Turkish language to make sure that it was unfamiliar. No other stimuli was placed in the room with the baby. This means the walls were black, there were no toys, and there were no humans in sight. The parents were in the room, but they were placed behind the babies to avoid any visual clues from the parents. There were no live concerts given to the infants, all were recorded to make sure that the experience was uniform.

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The study started when the babies were calm. When they reached a calm state, parents took a seat behind the infants and the researchers played recordings until they noticed the baby was about to cry. The cry was predicted by facial cues in the baby such as eyebrows being lowered, lip corners turning down, and mouth opening.

Scientific results

Listening to the Turkish music resulted in the infants staying calm for an average of nine minutes. While speech (baby talk and adult-directed talk) came in around four minutes. In another facet to the study they ran the test again with French nursery rhymes being sung. Since this study was done in Montreal the infants were familiar with the French language. They found that the nursery rhymes resulted in six minutes of calm from the infants. The French nursery rhymes contained repetition and simplicity, like the nursery rhymes familiar to other cultures.

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Why does this matter?

The study indicates that being sung to helps infants regulate their emotions. Singing to our children has become less common in western civilizations, though parents routinely speak and interact with their babies. However, they are not singing as often. This study seems to indicate that an important tool is being missed.

“Although infant distress signals typically prompt parental comforting interventions, they induce frustration and anger in some at-risk parents, leading to insensitive responding and, in the worst cases, to infant neglect or abuse,” Peretz said. “At-risk parents within the purview of social service agencies could be encouraged to play vocal music to infants and, better still, to sing to them.”

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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