Art, Music, DanceInfants

Effect of music therapy on infants

 Dr. Darcy DeLoach Walworth from Florida State University studied the effect of music therapy on premature infants’ and full term infants’ developmental responses and parents’ responsiveness.

First, the details.

  • 56 pairs of parents and infants attended developmental music groups or a control condition assessing responsiveness during toy play.
  • All were matched according to developmental age, socioeconomic status, and maternal depression.
  • Types of infant play and parent responsiveness were measured, and the number of seconds spent in each behavior recorded.
  • Parents completed a questionnaire on the perception of their infant’s general development, interpretations of their child’s needs, the purpose of using music with their child, and their child’s response to music.

And, the results.

  • The infants attending the developmental music groups with their parents demonstrated significantly more social toy play during the standardized parent-infant toy play than the control group.
  • Parents who attended the developmental music groups didn’t engaged in significantly more positive and less negative play behaviors with their infants than parents in the control group.

The bottom line?
Dr. Walworth concluded, “This study demonstrates the first findings of positive effects of developmental music groups on social behaviors for both premature and full term infants under 2 years old.”

Others have looked at the effects of music in preterm infants.

  • Preterm infants who listened to a CD recording of their mothers’ singing left the hospital 2 days sooner than those in the control group, though this difference was not significant.
  • Singing, directly to the infant, accompanied by a pentatonic (no wrong notes) harp reduced the level of stress as indicated by increasingly relaxed demeanor, increase oxygen saturation, and a slower heart rate.
  • Compared with recorded music or no music therapy, live music was associated with a reduced heart rate and deeper sleep at 30 minutes after therapy in stable preterm infants.

3/5/09 20:00 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.