Facts on How Music Affects Babies & Toddlers While They Are Sleeping
Music benefits child development in a variety of ways. Playing soft, relaxing music at bedtime promotes comfort, quality sleep and brain development, and can even promote learning as your little one soundly snoozes away. Put classical music on at a low volume overnight or during naps to provide your youngster with all the benefits music has to offer your sleeping baby.
Sleep Like a Baby
Playing soft background music before bed or during naps improves sleep duration and quality, according to a 2004 sleep study published in the "Journal of Music Therapy." Relaxing music calms the nervous system, which results in slower breathing and heart rate -- both of which can help induce sleep 4.
Boost Brain Development
The National Association for the Education of Young Children advocates music experiences in early childhood because music supports the formation and development of important brain connections that children establish in the first three years of life 1. Northwestern University notes that sound makes its way into a person's mind, even in his deepest sleep 25. This kind of passive listening music experience promotes memory, language learning, pattern recognition and sequencing in young babies and toddlers.
Learning from Mozart
A famous 2003 study conducted by Rauscher, Shaw and Ky sought to determine the explicit relationship between music, sleep and spatial task performance. The results, which were published in the October 1993 volume of "Nature" journal, showed that exposure to classical music produces what's known as the Mozart Effect -- that is, the effect that classical music has on people's intelligence 6. Soft classical music during naps or at bedtime will not only help your little one to sleep soundly and support healthy brain functioning, but can also boost intelligence and even lesson the effects of epilepsy.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, relaxing music and soothing sounds have a positive health effect on preemies, while KidsHealth notes that relaxing music comforts and soothes babies and toddlers 7. Music at bedtime can help babies and toddlers feel safe, relaxed and calm, while music during naps can help energy levels decrease and encourage the body to prepare for sleep naturally. Music can also soothe and comfort older babies and toddlers who demonstrate separation anxiety or hyperactivity at sleep time.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Beyond Twinkle Twinkle: Using Music With Infants and Toddlers
- Northwestern University: Brain Learns, Listens While We Sleep
- WQXR: Top 5 Studies on Classical Music and Health
- Journal of Music Therapy: The Effects of Background Music on Quality of Sleep in Elementary School Children
- Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine: The Mozart Effect
- KidsHealth: Introducing Toddlers to Music
- Jasemi M, Aazami S, Zabihi RE. The Effects of Music Therapy on Anxiety and Depression of Cancer Patients. Indian J Palliat Care. 2016;22(4):455-458. doi:10.4103/0973-1075.191823
- Loomba RS, Arora R, Shah PH, Chandrasekar S, Molnar J. Effects of music on systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate: a meta-analysis. Indian Heart J. 2012;64(3):309-13. doi:10.1016/S0019-4832(12)60094-7
- Register D. The effects of an early intervention music curriculum on prereading/writing. Journal of Music Therapy. 2001;38(3):239-248. doi:10.1093/jmt/38.3.239
- Pavlicevic M, O'neil N, Powell H, Jones O, Sampathianaki E. Making music, making friends: Long-term music therapy with young adults with severe learning disabilities. J Intellect Disabil. 2014;18(1):5-19. doi:10.1177/1744629513511354
- Werner J, Wosch T, Gold C. Effectiveness of group music therapy versus recreational group singing for depressive symptoms of elderly nursing home residents: Pragmatic trial. Aging Ment Health. 2017;21(2):147-155. doi:10.1080/13607863.2015.1093599
- Chang YS, Chu H, Yang CY, et al. The efficacy of music therapy for people with dementia: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Clin Nurs. 2015;24(23-24):3425-40. doi:10.1111/jocn.12976
- Aalbers S, Fusar-poli L, Freeman RE, et al. Music therapy for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;11:CD004517. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004517.pub3
- Shiranibidabadi S, Mehryar A. Music therapy as an adjunct to standard treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder and co-morbid anxiety and depression: A randomized clinical trial. J Affect Disord. 2015;184:13-7. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.04.011
- Trimmer C, Tyo R, Pikard J, Mckenna C, Naeem F. Low-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy-based music group (CBT-Music) for the treatment of symptoms of anxiety and depression: A feasibility study. Behav Cogn Psychother. 2018;46(2):168-181. doi:10.7870/cjcmh-2016-029
- Jespersen KV, Koenig J, Jennum P, Vuust P. Music for insomnia in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(8):CD010459. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010459.pub2
- Wang CF, Sun YL, Zang HX. Music therapy improves sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders: A meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies. Int J Nurs Stud. 2014;51(1):51-62. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.03.008
- De Niet G, Tiemens B, Lendemeijer B, Hutschemaekers G. Music-assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality: Meta-analysis. J Adv Nurs. 2009;65(7):1356-64. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.04982.x
- Redding J, Plaugher S, Cole J, et al. "Where's the Music?" Using Music Therapy for Pain Management. Fed Pract. 2016;33(12):46-49.
- Liu Y, Petrini MA. Effects of music therapy on pain, anxiety, and vital signs in patients after thoracic surgery. Complement Ther Med. 2015;23(5):714-8. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2015.08.002
- Nizamie SH, Tikka SK. Psychiatry and music. Indian J Psychiatry. 2014;56(2):128-40. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.130482
- Buehler PK, Spielmann N, Buehrer S, Schmidt AR, Weiss M, Schmitz A. Intraoperative music application in children and adolescents - a pilot study. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2017;61(8):895-903. doi:10.1111/aas.12935
- Mohr S. Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth in the United States: A Critical Literature Review. Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 2019;131.
- Shabani F, Nayeri ND, Karimi R, Zarei K, Chehrazi M. Effects of music therapy on pain responses induced by blood sampling in premature infants: A randomized cross-over trial. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(4):391-6. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.185581
- Jäncke L. Music, memory and emotion. J Biol. 2008;7(6):21. doi:10.1186/jbiol82
- Novotney A. Music as medicine. American Psychological Association. Monitor on Psychology. 2013;44(10):46.
- Rossetti A, Chadha M, Torres BN, et al. The impact of music therapy on anxiety in cancer patients undergoing simulation for radiation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2017;99(1):103-110. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.05.003
- Frequently Asked Questions. American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
- Salimpoor VN, Benovoy M, Longo G, Cooperstock JR, Zatorre RJ. The rewarding aspects of music listening are related to degree of emotional arousal. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007487
- Suguna S, Deepika K. The effects of music on pulse rate and blood pressure in healthy young adults. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. 2017;5(12):5268. doi:10.18203/2320-6012.ijrms20175438
- Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images