Singing a lullaby to your newborn may seem like second nature, but therapists say singing has powerful health benefits too.
That's why there's a new attendant making the rounds inside the neonatal intensive care unit of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
New parents Emilee and Donnie Wooten said they could immediately tell the difference in their son, 6-day-old Bennett, after a visit from board certified music therapist Chad Harmon, the newest member of the BUMC'S Arts in Medicine program.
"He's probably more soundly asleep than I have seen him before," Emilee Wooten said.
Harmon focuses on music therapy in the NICU, where premature newborns can face developmental challenges.
Stressful conditions can affect how a baby's brain develops, but studies show that music therapy can help calm and soothe a newborn by regulating breathing and heartbeat during procedures and new experiences like getting a bath.
"His face was melting. He gave us some relaxed 'aws' and yawns and his respiratory rate dropped quite a bit," Harmon said.
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The music also offers peace to parents.
"Everybody wants to see their baby experience joy and you can see it on his face," Emilee Wooten said.
The program integrates the music, visual and performing arts to promote healing and enhance the lives of patients, their families, visitors, staff and caregivers.
According to the hospital, Arts in Medicine has grown by triple-digits in terms of staff and lives impacted and is funded solely through philanthropic giving.
A spokesperson added that studies have shown premature birth can complicate development and quality of mother-infancy attachment.
Kangaroo care (skin-to-skin) in conjunction with music therapy has shown to make a positive impact during this sensitive bonding and developmental time not only on the baby, but the parents as well.
Nurses have attested to seeing the live music calm even the most fussy babies, as well as regulate breathing and heart.