The effect of music on premature babies

Music is an integral part of many people’s lives. It has the power to make us feel things, think about memories, and it can even be used for therapy. But did you know that music can also help premature babies? This article will talk about how music affects premature babies and what kind of effects it could have on them.


Music improves the brain of a preterm baby

Premature babies have been known to benefit from music therapy due to the effects it has on their brains. In a study conducted by Dr. Lara, a preterm brain development expert,  preterms who were exposed to music during their intensive care period showed significant connectivity in the brain networks following the MRI report (Lara et al, 2019). The brains of premature babies grew larger and formed more connections between cells similar to those of typical babies. Such results are promising because preterms can now become equally functional to their normal peers.

What’s more amazing, this effect can last throughout life which means that preterm infants who are given music therapy may be able to lead normal lives without any developmental disabilities or issues related to cognition later in life. So basically, playing some soothing classical tunes could help your baby’s development!

Music reduces crying of preterms

Music can also reduce the levels of stress that premature babies experience. Babies in incubators are often very stressed because they’re in an uncomfortable environment. Probably there’s just so much going on around them like beeping noises, bright lights, etc. and they can’t handle it.

But when music is played near their incubator, it has been shown to make preterm infants less fussy or even stop crying altogether (Douglas el at 2009).

Music therapy works by reducing cortisol levels which cause the urge to cry; thus allowing your baby to feel more comfortable.

Music helps preterms grow faster

The effects of music are not limited to soothing and calming preterms; it can actually help them grow faster too!

Although there’s no concrete evidence for this, many parents believe that their preterm infant grew faster when exposed to classical or soothing melodies like Mozart because the baby was less stressed and fussy compared to other times where they did not play any music at all.

Parents also report their babies gaining weight faster and having more alert periods than when they didn’t play any music. However, results vary from baby to baby so this is not always true for all preterm infants. if you do decide to try this out, make sure your hospital allows you to bring in some instruments or a speaker as an experiment!

There is still much research needed in order for scientists and medical professionals to truly understand how exactly music affects the weight of a preterm baby.

Music therapy improves preterm feeding behaviors

In a study conducted by Joanne Lewy, a professional music therapist, she and her colleagues discovered that rewarding premature babies with music therapy managed to positively improve their sucking behaviors and subsequently increased their calorie intake. (Joanne Loewy. 2013)

One thing to note, Premature babies are often unable to suck properly because of issues like weak muscles or underdeveloped coordination between body parts which means it can be harder for them to feed without making a mess everywhere, particularly feeling very hungry afterward!

However, when exposed to music either while eating or just beforehand, the infants are able to concentrate better during the process, and thus allowing more milk intake.

This is definitely an interesting effect worth trying out if you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby.

Music enhances bonding with the mother

One of the most important needs of premature babies is the need to feel loved and secure so they can grow properly. This means receiving lots of hugs, kisses, cuddles, from their mother!

The amazing news is that a previous study conducted by (Andrea et al. 2008)  already showed that infants who were exposed to music therapy before being fed by their mothers had a better emotional response than regular preteens. This means an increased maternal bonding between the preterm and the mothers.

Music improves sleep in preterms

Studies have shown that preterm infants who listen to music before going to sleep have more restful and calmer naps than those who are not exposed.

The babies also seem less fussy when waking up in the morning compared to when they aren’t exposed at all. Some parents even report their baby sleeping through the night after listening to calming melodies for a few days straight.

This is certainly something worth trying out if you’re having trouble getting your child (or infant) to bed early enough each day. Most doctors would recommend playing calming classical music for 30 minutes before bedtime or during feeding times. Once again, the results vary from baby to baby so this is not always true for all preterm infants.


There is a plethora of evidence pointing towards a positive effect of music on premature babies (preterms). The aforementioned benefits include sleep, bond, feeding, cognitive performance, and soothing effects. But again much research is needed in order for scientists and medical professionals to uncover how exactly music affects the growth of preterm babies. Knowing that your child may benefit from listening to music, even if it’s only once per week,  is certainly something amazing and of a worth try out!


Lara et al. (2019). Music in preterms enhances high cognitive performance.
Douglas et al (2009).The effect of music on inconsolable crying in premature preterms.
Joanna Loewy. (2013). The effect of music therapy on vital signs, feeding.
Andrea et al. 2008. The emotional response of preterms on mother singing.

Last Updated on September 12, 2021