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

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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 November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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