lil'bee

Why do babies like lullabies so much?

Social   |   Age: 4 months


Why do babies like lullabies so much?
What do lullabies and summer movies have in common? Well, about half of both are thinly veiled horror stories. Lullabies don’t tell quite as many stories of demonic possession, but they can still be pretty grim, and this is true of lullabies from many different parts of the world. The scary nature of many traditional lullabies is generally agreed to be because these frightening stories give new parents a way to vent their insecurities and fears while, at the same time, getting their babies to lie down and take a nap. But what is it about these songs that works so well at soothing babies to sleep that they’ve been passed down for generations?

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock 

Some of the biggest and most important ingredients in many important lullaby experiences aren’t about the song at all - they’re the rocking and parental closeness that often go with the lullaby, and the familiarity of a parent’s voice. Babies can recognize their mothers’ voices almost immediately after birth, and are more soothed by other familiar voices in their lives not long after that. You’ve probably noticed that there’s no problem with straying from the traditional lullaby path and throwing in something a little bit more modern - whatever has been stuck in your head this week, songs your parents liked when you were growing up, or even the first tune you learned to play during an elementary school music class disaster. Often, it’s the act of singing to your baby, not the song you sing, that sends her off to dreamland.

Morning bells are ringing

Of course, the benefits of closeness, and the familiarity of a parent’s voice, don’t take into account the benefits that several studies say live music can have on babies generally, whether or not it comes from their parents. It’s also true that many babies love recorded lullabies that may not come with parental rocking or walking at all. A 2009 study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America recorded newborns recognizing the beat in music - long before babies can walk, talk, or even see in color, they can recognize and appreciate music.

More than that, a 2011 study in Current Biology found that the brains of the 3-to-7-month-olds it studied honed in on and processed the emotions in a human voice way sooner than they could understand words. It’s one of those scientific findings that just sounds obvious - why did anyone need to prove that babies respond to the emotional tones of voices? Couldn’t they just spend some time with a baby? But put together with the early recognition of the pattern of beats in music, it makes babies’ appreciation of the soothing tones of lullabies make a lot of sense.

Some research has gone further than the idea that lullabies do what they’ve been designed to do for thousands of years, and soothe babies to sleep. A 2013 study published in Pediatrics shows a link between live music sung by trained music therapists and premature babies in the NICU healing faster and feeling less pain as they’re cared for.

How I wonder what you are

In the end, if there’s a lullaby your baby like the best, whether it’s something you’d find in a traditional book of lullaby lyrics, or an interpretation of a song you heard on the radio once, she probably loves it for her own reasons that, just like so many things people love, has as much to do with her associations with it as it does with the song itself, by this point. One association that’s almost definitely important to her, though, is the way she shares it with you.

Sources:

More articles at this age

Babies and OTC medication


Is it safe to give infants and babies over-the-counter medication?

4 months old


Can you believe that your baby is about twice the weight she was at birth? There are other big developments happening now too as she gets more and more in control of her body everyday.

Allergies by season


To keep yourself from falling ill, make yourself aware of the allergies that can spring up in summer and winter.

Things you know now that you wish you did four months ago


At this point you could probably write a book about all the things you've learned since your baby was born. And honestly, even if we told you these things beforehand, you wouldn't have believed them until you'd experienced them firsthand. We're sure you can add to this list, but here are some of the biggest realizations you might have in hindsight.

Finding the provider who best meets your needs


When it comes to treatment for postpartum depression, women have a number of options at their disposal for where to seek care.

Well-child visit: 4 months


If you're on a typical immunization schedule with your baby, there are several second doses of vaccines on deck for this visit, and there are also some adorable milestones to look out for.

Welcome to lil'bee!

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's okay. Who doesn't? But without advertising-income, we can't keep making this site awesome. Please disable your ad blocker and refresh this page.

Thanks for understanding 🙏