Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Music's Ability to Soothe and Nurture the NICU Baby

One of my few happy memories of our NICU experience is watching my daughter sleeping under the special bilirubin treatment lamps with her “shades” on and listening to “tunes” with her mini headphones. I could almost imagine her lying on the beach in the sun as a teenager listening to music.

A recent article this week on using music therapy with preemies brought back this memory. It was good to read that something I had intuitively done for my own daughter, bringing in music for her to listen to while in the NICU, is now being used as a therapy in more NICU settings.

Research is showing that Music therapy may be another way for caregivers to positively alter the environment of NICU premature babies and sick newborns.

Desirable Impact of Music on NICU Babies

  • Aids in brain and language development
  • Conveys security to babies.
  • Improves Oxygen saturation levels.
  • Helps babies to sleep.
  • Decreases pain.
  • Increases weight gain.
  • Shortens duration of hospital stay.
According to an article published in JAMA in 2000, playing music in the neonatal intensive care unts can also play a role in holding down the noise level in the NICU's.

Guidelines for Using NICU Music
These guidelines come from Dr. Fred J. Schwartz, anesthesiologist and one of the leading authorities on using music with newborns:

  • Try not to disrupt the baby’s normal sleep state.
  • Consider the baby’s mood or behavioral state when music is played.
  • Use music to help change or transition the baby’s behavioral state e.g. an agitated or fussy baby can go to sleep or become more quietly alert.
  • Adjust volume and amount of time music is played if needed.
Suggestions for Music to Play for Your NICU Baby
I have included some of the music CD's most commonly used in the NICU Music studies on the My Baby's in the NICU: Now What? lens that are readily available on Amazon.

Sources (Alphabetically) :
Collins SK, Kuck K. Music therapy in the neonatal intensive care unit. Neonatal Netw. 1991 Mar;9(6):23-6.

Marwick C. Music hath charms for care of preemies. JAMA. 2000 Jan 26;283(4):468-9.
Sagario D. Technology, music therapy give preemies an edge: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. June 11, 2007. Des Moines
Schwartz FJ. Ritchie R. Music Listening in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Previously available at Transitions Music.
Schwartz F. Perinatal Stress Reduction, Music and Medical Cost Savings. Previously available at Transitions Music.

Photo Credits: Sanja Gjenero. Pure Music. Royalty Free Use.

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1 comment:

Kat Fulton said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. This is a wonderful resource for families of NICU babies! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I also wanted to let you know of my blog that contains info about music therapy in the NICU. Best wishes, Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC, NICU MT