Music Therapy Helping Premature Babies?


Have you ever heard of Music Therapy?  According to American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music.”

How does music therapy help premature babies with development?  In many ways…the when babies are born preterm, they spend many weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). They spend a majority of their time in incubators, where the environment is controlled to prevent illness and promote development.  Multiple body system are under-developed, resulting in the need for medical intervention.  Most babies are attached to numerous noisy medical devices including monitors for vital signs, oxygen and feeding tubes.  They also begin their first few weeks receiving numerous necessary medical procedures, which often are painful.  This new environment is extremely different when compared to the warm, dark and quite womb that they just came from.

Music therapy has been used successfully for premature babies to reduce stress in many ways.  The music is created to mimic the sounds that they often heard in the womb, such as the Remo Ocean disc that creates rhythmic ocean waves mimicking the sounds in the utero environment, or the Gato box drum which creates sounds similar to that of the mother’s heart beat, and singing songs softly remixed to a simple guitar also seems to put little preterm babies at ease.  Once the infant is in stable condition (which may be weeks after birth) many parents will hold their infant with skin on skin contact while listening and rocking to the gentle and soft music.  The music therapy also assists in parental/baby bonding and reduction in parental stress associated with preterm infant care.

There is even a new invention being used in many hospitals, the PAL (Pacifier Activated Lullaby device), as the premature baby suckles, lullaby songs recorded from the infant’s mother is played.  The PAL gives the infant positive reinforcement encouraging them to learn this important reflex and survival skill.  The process is similar to Pavlov’s law, in which as the baby suckles, the music continues to play.  The infants respond to the mothers voice (infants recognize their mothers voice) in the soft lullaby and at the same time, they are learning to feed they are comforted.

Music therapy has been proven to assist the premature baby physically in many ways including: improved vital signs, improved weight gain/feeding patterns and improved sleeping patterns.

Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of others? Contact Arizona College today to learn more about our Allied Health degree and diploma programs offered at our Glendale and Mesa campuses.

Information in this blog post is accurate as of March 6, 2014.