It seems like the best solution is to sing to soothe your crying baby, as a new study has shown that this will keep them calm for much longer, and appeal to their love of simplicity.
- Researchers observed 30 babies, of 6-9 months old
- They evaluated their responses to Turkish songs, French songs, adult talk, and ‘baby talk’
- Turkish singing kept the infants calm for 9 minutes, French singing for 6 minutes, adult talk for under 4 minutes, and baby talk for over 4 minutes
- Their study emphasized the need to resort to soothing singing to calm babies
Researchers at the University of Montreal studied a number of 30 infants, aged between 6 to 9 months. They aimed to understand how both speech and singing could influence a baby’s attention. More importantly, how it affects their emotional self-control. According to professor Isabelle Peretz, this particular trait is “not developed in babies”.
However, singing to them might aid in its development.
The team of researchers carefully conducted their study by first making sure that they eliminate all other factors. For one, they didn’t use the voices of their mothers, as to not trigger a specific sensitivity. Previous studies have shown that the emotional response in infants is much more heightened to the familiar tone of a loving parent.
Instead, the singing was done in Turkish, meaning in a language that they did not recognize.
Furthermore, the recordings were of play songs, not Western ones. According to lead author of the study, Mariève Corbeil, this is due to the fact that the tunes typically sang to babies “have a specific range of tones and rhythms”. And, apparently, a Rihanna song would be out of the question. It will not help soothe your baby.
The researchers then tested to see how long infants remained calm under the influence of four separate vocal factors: Turkish singing, French singing (meaning in a language they were familiar with), adult speech, and “baby talk”. All recordings were played in the absence of their parents, or at least when they were out of sight of their child.
The ‘soothing time’ was defined as to how long it takes for the baby to make the infamous ‘cry face’. It’s one very familiar to parents, with the lowered brows, downturned corners of the lips, mouth opening, and raised cheeks. It has been defined as the facial telltale sign of distress, and was the standard used to measure their emotional state.
Apparently, Turkish singing won. According to the team of researchers, the babies remained calm for 9 minutes while listening to those particular songs. French singing only kept them calm for 6 minutes, and the time periods were even lower for speech.
According to their findings, speaking in a normal register only soothed the infants for under 4 minutes. Baby talk also surprisingly didn’t fare much better, with only over 4 minutes. It appears that speaking, in general, whether it’s meant to be directed at babies or not, does not have as big of an effect as singing.
As stated by the researchers, this underlines a possible solution for frustrated and exhausted parents who cannot find a way to stop their babies from crying. It’s a situation that unfortunately sometimes results in insensitive responses, neglect or even abuse. However the good ol’ lullaby singing actually works. That’s whether you have a good voice or not.
Image source: babycenter.com