Saturday, March 3, 2012

Music Therapy and Your Baby

Throughout history, parents have been using music and learning more about how music therapy is used to soothe their distressed infants.

From simple lullabies to music boxes, to recorded sounds and melodies, the sound of music seems to touch even the youngest of souls.

Collin & Meredith
Many parents even choose to employ music while their babies are still in the womb, by surrounding the pregnant mother with soft sounds and tunes, or even placing headphones over the mother's abdomen. The benefits of music have become increasingly evident in these past few years, especially with premature infants.

Modern technology has enabled researchers to realize the true benefits of music therapy. Various studies have been performed that have evaluated the effects of music and sound on babies, and they are indicating that music therapy actually increases the health, and encourages the growth of infants. One example of this is the application of sound in an extra-uterine environment.

Most premature babies are placed in simulated environments during the first part of their lives. The incubators that become their new world are equipped with temperature control, sterile conditions, and numerous types of life support and feeding equipment. When these infants are also exposed to soft repetitive sounds that mimic the intrauterine experience, their health improves, and they thrive. There are approximately 46 medical centers in the world that include music in their neonatal intensive care units (NICU).

In addition to intrauterine simulation, the soft singing of a female voice actually increases the oxygen saturation levels, inspires healthy sleeping patterns, and encourages healthy weight and growth. There are increased benefits when the voice the infant is exposed to is that of the infants own mother.

Studies indicate that the exposure of preemie babies to their mother's soft voice can also help to alleviate pain. This is especially attractive to parents who observe babies that are hooked up to machines and tubes. The calming effect of this knowledge on the parents actually passes through to the infants.

Depending on the severity of the birthing conditions, prematurity, and other health complications, human interaction levels can be extremely restricted in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). This can be extremely difficult for new parents wishing to interact with their babies. Parents often develop a sense of helplessness in these situations. The use of music actually empowers parents, giving them a way to not only communicate with their preemie, but allowing them to know that they are helping to improve health and stimulate development as well.

In addition to health complications, many premature infants are victims of developmental delays. Cognitive development has been shown to improve significantly when a preemie baby is exposed to the repetitive sounds and voices of music. Head circumference, which indicates brain size, actually increases with the exposure to music.

It is important for parents of premature infants who are interested in employing music therapy as a beneficial tool in the treatment of their infants to communicate this desire to hospital staff.

Roman Music Therapy
There are a number of board certified music therapists available to help educate parents and hospital staff on the various techniques of music. There is also a massive amount of information available to parents and care providers listed on the internet.

An excellent source of information and resources can be found by contacting the AMTA.

Your early intervention team may also have information on Music Therapy and if you happen to live Massachusetts I highly recommend you get in touch with Meredith Pizzi MT-BC at Sprouting Melodies. and take advantage of other services that Meredith offers.

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