This month, the medical journal Pediatrics reported that playing live music for premature babies — that is, singing to them at close range — works wonders. Recent research demonstrates that singing to infants slows their heartbeats, calms their breathing, and “promotes states of quiet alertness.” Oxygen saturation increases. They fall asleep more easily. They go home from the hospital earlier.
How about that? The truly remarkable thing is that it took an 11-hospital study to prove what most parents know without even thinking about it: there’s nothing more peaceful than singing a child to sleep. Peaceful for the child, peaceful for you.
I’ve been singing to my sons, most nights, for nearly fourteen years. News of this study prompted me to collect my bedtime favorites, and here’s a list (scroll down to see all sixteen). Of course, my boys would hardly recognize these songs — here sung by the best voices — from my own versions, a cappella, in the sleepy dark. But still, maybe a few will be stored somewhere in their own memories for when it’s their turn to do the same.
For more on the research reported in Pediatrics, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/health/live-music-soothes-premature-babies-a-new-study-finds.html?pagewanted=all.