Why Mothers Sing to Babies

Posted on February 22, 2017

Photo: flickr

When we picture a mother singing to her child, we tend not to give it much thought. It seems natural that mothers would sing to their kids, and it's an act seen across multiple cultures. However, Shannon de l'Etoile, a professor of music therapy, investigates why we mothers sing to their babies.

From previous research, a mother's song is different from other types of singing. There is a particular pitch level and the gliding between pitches that distinguishes it from normal singing. In addition, a mother's song has certain vowel sounds and differences in amplitude. In l'Etoile's experiment, she wanted to test if this kind of singing had any effect on the development of a bond between a mother and her child. Singing was set up against other variables like having the mother read or play with the child. Results indicated that singing was just as effective as these other variables when it comes to capturing and maintaining and infant's attention. It was even better compared to having the baby listen to recorded music as well.

So, what does singing do for the mom then? L'Etoile suggested that the mother's instincts were also on high alert when she sang to her child. More interestingly, her singing will change in pitch, tempo or key based on how engaged the baby is. Overall, these songs pose as an important interaction between mother and her child.

Source material from Medical News Today

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