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Singing To A Premature Baby Relieves Maternal Anxiety, A Study Finds

Singing To A Premature Baby Relieves Maternal Anxiety, A Study Finds

Preterm babies, also fondly called preemies, leave their mother’s womb sooner than expected. Due to their premature birth, they might experience health challenges that warrant extra hospital stay. The stress of pregnancy and childbirth, along with the worry about their newborn’s health, can significantly affect the mother’s mental health. But the good news is: researchers have found that singing to a premature baby during kangaroo care seems to reduce maternal anxiety. Here’s what they discovered.

Premature Babies: All You Need to Know

The “Singing Kangaroo” Study

Researchers from the University of Helsinki invited 24 mothers of premature babies to participate in a study that aimed to analyze the effects of singing on maternal anxiety.

The investigators divided the participants into two groups. Half of the participants were encouraged and supported to sing or hum songs to their tiny babies during kangaroo care – a method of promoting skin-to-skin contact between mom and child. After the time allotted for the care, the mothers recorded what they felt in a journal.

Are Premature Babies Smarter?

The other 12 participants also did standard Kangaroo care. However, they didn’t sing to their premature baby. They, too, recorded what they felt after.

Before and after the investigation–which lasted until what was supposed to be the preemies’ 40th week of gestation, had they not been born early–scientists measured the participants’ anxiety.

They found that the mothers in the singing group had a “statistically reduced maternal anxiety” compared to non-singing mothers.

Furthermore, most moms in the singing group reported that their babies also responded to their voices by relaxing.

Due to the promising discovery, all mothers continued singing to their babies even after the study.

Singing to a premature baby is therapeutic

Here’s an interesting thing: the Singing Kangaroo Study is not the only investigation to prove that singing to babies has a therapeutic effect.

In another study, the researchers found out that premature babies who listened to their moms’ recorded singing voice leave the hospital an average of 2 days sooner than the babies in the control group.

Several researchers also pointed out that preemies take more time to respond to maternal speaking than maternal singing.

singing to a premature baby

Help your preemie thrive at home

Once the doctor gives you the signal to bring your baby home, it’ll be helpful to do the following to help them thrive:

Take care of yourself

You wouldn’t be able to care for your baby effectively if you feel sick or mentally and emotionally down. So, don’t forget to eat nutritious foods and take adequate rest to gain your energy back.

Likewise, remember that it’s okay to ask and receive help from your partner and loved ones.

Continue to perform kangaroo care

Singing to a premature baby may be most effective while you’re doing kangaroo care, so why not do it at home?

Find a quiet, warm room and a comfortable area to lie down. Remove your baby’s clothes except for their diaper, and then gently bring them to your bare chest. Turn their face to one side so that one of their ears is against your heart.

Kangaroo care alone is already beneficial, as it promotes mother-child bonding, but you can also sing or hum a song to your baby while you do it. It’s best to wear a mask, if you’re feeling unwell.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Preterm Babies: What Mothers Need to Know

Follow the recommended feeding plan

Preemies often have low-birth-weight, and for that, the doctor will most surely give your baby a feeding plan.

If you can, they will encourage you to breastfeed. If that’s not possible, they will prescribe a pumping routine or, as a last resort, formula milk that will suit your baby’s needs. Follow the feeding plan to help your preemie gain weight.

Avoid public places and limit visitors

Babies, especially those born premature, are included in the most vulnerable population. With their immune system not fully developed, they may not be ready to meet many people yet.

For this reason, avoid crowded places and limit their time outside to doctor’s appointments. Likewise, ask visitors to wash their hands thoroughly and discourage them from visiting if they are sick.

Learn more about Premature Babies here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Singing to preterm infants during kangaroo care reduces maternal anxiety
Accessed January 22, 2021

The effects of mothers’ singing on full-term and preterm infants and maternal emotional responses
Accessed January 22, 2021

Vocal responsiveness of preterm infants to maternal infant-directed speaking and singing during skin-to-skin contact (Kangaroo Care) in the NICU
Accessed January 22, 2021

Kangaroo Care
Accessed January 22, 2021

Taking Your Preemie Home
Accessed January 22, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jan 26
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel