I have known since before my children were born, that music is powerful with infants and children. What I didn’t know in those early days was that babies can hear up to 5 months before they are born. Research has documented that the fetal ear can begin functioning as early as the beginning of the second trimester. Many people don’t realize that the baby can hear in utero, and therefore are not sensitive to the sonic environment that the mother is in. Of course I don’t think that loud music is EVER a good idea for any human at any point, but pregnant women should be especially careful to be in sonic environments that are quiet and calm…as much as possible.
A recent issue of Psychology Today reports that:
The Pacifier Activated Lullaby Device, or PAL, uses a specially-wired pacifier that plays a lullaby when the baby sucks with a certain amount of force. Why sucking? Sucking is a precursor to feeding, which is vital for the premature baby’s growth and development. The PAL incorporates a basic, positive reinforcement conditioning response that reportedly can reduce the length of a premature baby’s hospital stay by up to five days.
It’s an exciting new product. Developed by music therapy researchers at Florida State University who partnered with Power Device Technologies Inc., the PAL has been extensively studied and the device has gone through all the FDA, research & development, and patent hoops. And although the concept is simple, it has the potential to help thousands of premature infants learn how to suck–and ultimately feed–quickly.
However, it is important to keep in mind that feeding isn’t the only challenge a premature baby faces…and it’s not the only way music can support the development of our littlest babies.