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A Perfect Love Song: Songs Help Build Strong Connection Between Mother, Infant

Update Date: Feb 21, 2017 09:00 AM EST

A collection of words following a rhythm or melody, songs have become an integral part of human existence. It is believed that the first instance that people are exposed to music is in the womb of the matter. In fact, numerous studies have found that music affects the development of infants.

In a series of studies conducted by Professor Shannon de l'Etoile, she investigated how songs help build a strong connection between mother and infant.

The basis of the first study conducted by Professor de l'Etoile from the University of Miami is the identification of infant behaviors in response to infant-directed singing. Moreover, the study compared how other maternal interactions like reading to an infant, playing with toys with and infant, and listening to music with an infant affect the infant's behavior.

In fact, the main goal of the first study was to be able to classify infant behavior as human behavior and to identify the unique responses of infants.

Professor de l'Etoile observed 70 infants and how these infants responded to six different interactions. The interactions were mother singing an assigned song, a stranger singing an assigned song, mother singing a song of her choice, mother reading a book, mother playing toys with the infant, and mother and infant listening to recorded music.

The results of the initial study found that direct interaction of infants like singing a song, reading a book, or playing with toys are more effective in keeping the attention of the infant compared to the interaction of just listening to recorded music.

Building on the results of the first study, Professor de l'Etoile focused on the role of the mother during infant-directed singing. She measured the pitch, tempo, and key of the mother's singing in correlation with infant engagement. She found that maternal instincts come to play in order to maintain the engagement of the infant while the mother was singing.

In her latest study, published in the Journal of Music Therapy, Professor Shannon de l'Etoile investigated how infant-directed singing of mothers suffering from post-partum depression affect infants. The study found that although the infants were able to engage with the mother, the tempo, and tone of voice of the mother was robotic and monotonous.

However, the study observed that infant-directed singing affected not only the infants but also the mothers suffering from post-partum depression. While the depressed mother continuous to sing to the infant, it helps alleviate the negative thoughts and emotions of the mother and empowering the mother through her interaction with her child.

In an interview, Professor Shannon de l'Etoile shares that it is not important for the infant whether the mother is tone deaf or has a golden voice. What matters is that mothers engage with their infant and communicate with their child through singing songs thereby building stronger and closer connection.

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