New research suggests that playing music to premature babies helps them sleep better and improves their breathing.
The study, undertaken at the Beth Israel Hospital in New York, observed infants across 11 American hospitals and found that soothing tunes put newborns into a 'quietly attentive state' and also improved their sucking reflex, which in turn, helped them feed.
The study's authors say that the sound of an instrument or a parent singing proved better than nursery rhymes for helping children's heartbeats slow down and their breathing regulate to induce sleep.
The researchers found the effect happened regardless of which song was played to the babies, although they had to be slowed down to have a lullaby-like quality.
During the study, music therapists worked with the mothers of 272 premature babies for several sessions over two weeks using either two instruments, singing or no music. The instruments included a gato box, (a wooden drum), and an ocean disc (a cylinder full of beads which made a whooshing noise).
The Daily Mail reports favoured song tracks included I Heard it Through the Grapevine and Pick up the Pieces.
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