Music has been mentioned in quite a number of circles as a cure for discomfort and fear caused by internal or external sources. It has been used in homes to calm tensed up adults and teens and it has now been found to have an effect on children as well.
The first time I held my son to breastfeed I had no idea what to do. I only had the theory and it was proving rather difficult to practice but I eventually learnt even though my eardrums were close to bursting from the little boy’s cries.
Of course the cries came often as he continued to grow and it made me want to tear my hair out! My mum would sing a song to him for everything and I found it very odd. One day my son was crying incessantly and I was all alone so I could not ask for help. It was getting too much and no amount of rocking and walking was going to do the trick this time. I decided to try the singing seeing as nothing else was working and the crying gradually began to subside.
It felt very good as the silence increased and even the whimpering stopped and it felt like he was actually listening to my singing. I have a great voice (not to brag though!) and I have sung for large audiences but this kind of satisfaction was like no other! It was as though he had given me a stamp of approval.
It turns out that science has actually proven that music helps children deal with pain and discomfort as well. Singing a lullaby to a baby has been found to decrease the child’s heart rate, anxiety and perception of pain. The study was actually conducted on 37 babies with respiratory and cardiac problems and they were between seven days and four years of age and was carried out at the Greater Ormond Street Hospital in London.
The babies had their perceived pain levels, heart rates and oxygen levels measured before and after the singing. These three indicators had dropped to a large extent after the lullaby session. The figures were compared to when the babies were read to and there was no difference in the before and after values.
The music in your voice
This goes to show that it is not the sound of your voice that calms your child down but it is the music that comes from your voice. Music has a better effect if it is sung live to the child and not played back as with a recording. This is because the child will be able to look at your facial expressions and you can adjust your voice accordingly if the baby begins to calm down and fall asleep. The child also responds to the voice in a song first then they notice the instruments later so even without instruments your child will be happy.
As I continued to sing and my son calmed down I also became a little less anxious. I also calmed down and was able to put everything else that he needed for his nap in place. It helped me gather my thoughts and become more productive than I would have been if he would have continued crying.The singing also brought sanity to me even as I was focusing on calminghim down. Music is truly a magical thing!
As a parent you will find yourself gravitating towards singing to your child at some point especially when you gain a little more confidence in your role as a parent. Take it in your stride and experience the magic that music accomplishes between you and your child.