Singing to your baby bump for more sleep

By Deb Herdman, Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head

Every parent, at some point, will have a newborn that won’t settle. You feed, sometimes too much, change them, wrap and unwrap, rock, bounce, jiggle, walk for miles – and nothing seems to work. It’s a gut wrenching experience that can destroy your confidence, your relationship with your baby and partner and leave you feeling exhausted and anxious. It can go on for weeks with many parents telling stories of their child never sleeping well from birth. Irrespective of cause, stressed babies easily become overtired, struggle to feed well, get colicky and are unable to sleep. Fortunately, science has come to the rescue to make parenting less stressful and baby happier when by singing to your baby bump for more sleep.


A Lullaby Can Do What?

Released in 2017 by Milan University a simple prenatal intervention produced encouraging results for helping settle babies after birth by influencing prenatal behavior.

The research published in the Women and Birth Journal set out to explore the relationship between maternal singing during pregnancy and how this affected the mother/baby relationship.

The study of 168 pregnant women enrolled half of the group to sing a range of preselected lullabies during pregnancy and then selecting only one or two favorites from to sing from birth to three months.

The results of this simple intervention proved a hands-down winner as 90% mothers reported feeling relaxed, serene and felt they were on the same wavelength as their unborn baby.

After birth, the results produced were even more favorable as mothers reported less anxiety as babies slept better with less night waking. In addition to sleeping better, babies cried less, and had fewer bouts of colic, than the control group.  In fact, babies that were sung to cried 18.5% of the time compared to 28.2%.

Lullabies have a long history

Repetitive, soft, simple, and slow in tempo with a regular beat, lullabies have always helped babies to sleep better. There is something soothing about the way a lullaby melody is composed and rhythmicity is as important as the lyrics that are sung. You have to like the lullaby in order to love the experience.

In fetal development, auditory senses develop in the second trimester, with ‘habituation’ from 28 to 36 weeks. This phenomenon allows recognition and memory of a sound stimulus to be recalled by the baby within the first three weeks of life if exposure to that stimulus reoccurs.  Just like a newborn seeking the familiar voice of her mother straight after birth.

How the baby responded both in utero and in the early months of hearing the familiar tune affected their behaviour. Calmer babies resulting in stronger bonding, and less maternal anxiety. A high 93% found the experience so pleasurable they continued to sing to their newborns to enhance nurturing and enrich their relationship with their infant.

Maternal singing is an expression of love generally recognized as being beneficial for mother and new born.  According to attachment theory, mother/infant bonding is crucial to the development and wellbeing of your baby. As singing involves you being in close contact with your baby, it’s easy to understand how maternal confidence is enriched.

Who wouldn't want a happy relaxed baby that sleeps well, feeds well and has less colic? Prenatal lullaby singing is clearly an easy and achievable task that any expecting mum could do.

Happy parenting!

 Links and bio

The Research -

Deb Herdman is a mother, health professional, sleep consultant, author and composer of Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head Cd. Deb consults privately and gives sleep talks to corporate, health, education and parent groups. Developer of Sleepy Head TED and 3R’s to Sleep Success system, she is passionate about helping mothers and families to sleep well with music, for better health.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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