Singing lullabies to your new baby is innate. Prior to your parenting days, you may not have heard those comforting songs in decades, but the words and tune are rooted in your memory. When it's your turn to bring a new life into this world, you rock your little one in your arms and quietly sing them a lullaby as your heart practically explodes. No one had to tell you that the soothing musical sound of your voice is one of the best ways to calm and comfort your child.
This led me to wonder what kind of singing has a positive effect on a baby's sleep and what other types of music or white noise can help your baby sleep, too.
What is the best music for baby sleep? Not all music is created equal when it comes to helping your little one fall asleep. But careful consideration of the type of music you sing to or play for your baby can soothe him as he transitions to sleep.
Ways to Use Music to Help Your Baby Sleep
When it comes to singing your baby a lullaby, you don't give it any prior thought. You may have even sung to your baby when she was in the womb as it is something that comes so naturally to most moms. With a newborn, keeping her soothed and calm through loving care is of utmost importance. That's why we swaddle, rock, and hold our babies close against us. The same is true for singing a lullaby.
Including music in a baby's sleep routine is common practice for most moms. There are 2 ways you can use different types of music to help your baby sleep.
1. Using music during the wake to sleep transition.
In this scenario, lullabies are being sung or music is being played when you're trying to wind down your baby to prepare for sleep. Even when babies are showing signs of sleepiness, having a transition period between play and sleep time is necessary. This could include closing the blinds, dimming the lights, reading a book together, and playing relaxing background music.
Utilizing these methods is a great way to let your baby know, "It's time to sleep." This ultimately makes them more sleepy before performing the last steps of your baby's bedtime routine. Parents who use music in this way often turn the music off before leaving the room, preferring a silent sleep environment for their child.
2. Utilizing music as a way to help your baby fall asleep.
The other option for using music to help your baby sleep is to have it on while your baby falls asleep. Families who have outside noise (such as traffic or older children playing) may find music or white noise helpful to drown it out. Others may notice that it soothes their child as they become an independent sleeper. There are even white noise machines made specifically with babies in mind for this purpose.
Some express concern that playing music while your baby falls asleep will become a crutch. The argument is that music can become a sleep prop that the baby will always need to fall asleep. So, if down the road, your baby starts daycare or sleeps at grandma's, it's possible this music-sleep association will cause them to have a hard time falling asleep without it. But, if you read our article, "5 Myths and a Truth About Baby Sleep" you'll find out that not all sleep props are bad.
The Happiest Baby argues the opposite. They state that white noise "makes good sleep even better."
Research suggests that given the right choice of music, the good far outweighs the bad.
The Top 3 Music Choices to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep
It won't come as a surprise that there are certain types of music you won't want to play for your baby. That can also include ensuring the music is at an appropriate volume.
The following 3 types of music are excellent choices for baby sleep. Played or sung between 45 - 65 decibels (quieter than the sound of a vacuum cleaner) will ensure safety for your baby's ears and the perfect calming effect for the deep sleep they need.
This is the simplest and arguably the most effective choice for calming your baby. Science Daily reports that cognitive neuroscientists found "lullabies soothe both moms and babies simultaneously."
The presence of a mother or father offering their soothing touch and voice are two of the best things you can do for your baby to help their drowsiness fade to sleep. It doesn't really matter which one you sing, or even if you make it up. Got the opposite of mad chops? Your baby doesn't care! Pitch and volume will most likely come intuitively for you.
White noise isn't necessarily what you'd call music. Instead, it's a combination of various frequencies that humans can hear. These may come in the form of ocean waves, heartbeats, or nature sounds including animal noises. Continuous noise such as rain is thought to be the most effective. Luckily, many white noise machines offer different choices so you can find what your baby likes best.
If you search for white noise machines for your baby, you will find an abundance of choices. It can be overwhelming and hard to choose. Just remember that it doesn't have to be fancy to work wonders for your baby's sleep. These are some considerations as you're making the choice:
- adjustable volume with the lowest level being 50 dB or under
- automatic shut off
- multiple sound options
Soft Classical Music
Classical music is another great music choice to help your baby fall asleep. The absence of lyrics makes it a distraction-free choice. Remember that the pitch of the music shouldn't be too high or too low. This goes for classical music, too. Percussion instruments don't lend themselves well to baby sleep, so look for classical music that offers gentle tones.
Using the right kind of classical music will calm your baby's heartbeat and improve their overall sleep.