Live music helped soothe premature babies, slowing their heart rates, improving feeding and sleeping patterns, and increasing periods of quiet alertness, according to a study published online in Pediatrics. The findings, say the authors, refute previous suggestions that all sound is overstimulating to preemies. The researchers studied 272 premature infants, 32 weeks or older, in 11 NICUs. The newborns were exposed to several periods of live-sung lullabies, two instruments that simulated sounds in the womb, and to no music at all. A certified music therapist guided the sessions, entraining the music to match breathing rate and utilizing lullabies that were parent-selected and culturally relevant. In addition to helping infants self-regulate, conclude the authors, live, organized, entrained music can decrease parental stress, thus enhancing parent-infant bonding. Read the study.

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