Study: Babies prefer song over speech

New research has confirmed what many mums already suspected – singing is soothing to babies.

More so than speech, according to the study from the University of Montreal which showed infants remained calm twice as long when listening to a song as they did when listening to an adult talk.

“Many studies have looked at how singing and speech affect infants’ attention, but we wanted to know how they affect a baby’s emotional self-control,” said Professor Isabelle Peretz, of the university’s Center for Research on Brain, Music and Language.

“Emotional self-control is obviously not developed in infants, and we believe singing helps babies and children develop this capacity,” Professor Peretz told Neuroscience News.

The study involved thirty healthy babies aged between six and nine months.

It’s no secret that we humans love music – we show it by automatically moving our bodies to the beat.

“Infants do not synchronize their external behaviour with the music, either because they lack the requisite physical or mental ability,” Professor Peretz said.

“Part of our study was to determine if they have the mental ability. Our finding shows that the babies did get carried away by the music.”

To ensure the bubs weren’t influenced by other facotrs such as their mother’s voice, both the music and speech were presented in Turkish.

While their parents were in the room, they remained behind their babies to avoid influencing their reaction.

“When listening to the Turkish song, babies remained calm for an average duration of approximately nine minutes,” said author Mariève Corbeil, of the University of Montreal

“For speech, it was roughly only half as long, regardless of whether it was baby-talk or not,” Corbeil said.

Baby-talk kept them calm for just over four minutes, on average; for adult-directed speech, it was just under four minutes.

“The lack of significant distinction between the two types of speech came as a surprise to us,” she said.

The researchers say the findings are important for mums in the West who speak more often than they sing to their children. 

So work those vocal chords and put all that shower practice to good use!

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