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Try a lullaby dose for your sick baby!

Sing a lullaby to your baby. Benefits? Your tot could become less irritable, upset and is less likely to whimper.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 14:23 IST

It seems like mothers who sing their babies to sleep do know best, for a new study has found that music therapy can help sick babies in intensive care maintain normal behavioural development, making them less irritable, upset and less likely to cry.

As a part of the three-year study, researchers from the University of Western Sydney, in collaboration with the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, studied 40 infants in the Neonatal Unit.

The infants were divided into three groups: those hospitalised and receiving music therapy; those hospitalised and not having music therapy; and healthy babies, cared for at home, without music therapy.

Dr Carol Newnham, infant neuropsychologist, performed a behavioural development test twice on each infant, about a month apart.

During that month, the hospitalised infants who received music therapy had up to 12 sessions of the therapist gently singing to them and touching them in a way that directly related to the therapist's perception of the social needs of the babies.

Dr Stephen Malloch, who led the study, said that the findings had shown that while infants who had been given music therapy had maintained the same levels of irritability and crying that they had at admission, those who did not have music therapy deteriorated in their irritability and crying behaviour - coping less with their hospitalisation as time went on.

"We found that music therapy supported the infants' behaviour -these infants maintained the same levels of irritability and crying that they had at admission. Meanwhile, those babies in the Neonatal Unit who did not have music therapy deteriorated in their irritability and crying behaviour - coping less with their hospitalisation as time went on," he said.

"It's likely the babies who received music therapy used up less energy when compared with the babies who did not receive the therapy. If a baby is less irritable and cries less, this has implications for rate of healing and weight gain, two significant factors which contribute to the length of a hospital stay," he added.

The study will be published in an international music therapy journal this year.

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 06:00 IST