Nearly every new parent learns quickly that a lullaby will help their infant find peace. But did you know that the baby isn’t fussy about what language the lullaby is in?
Researchers at Harvard’s Music Lab have determined that infants in the United States relaxed when played lullabies that were unfamiliar and in a foreign language. Their results were published in the scientific journal, Nature Human Behavior on October 19th.
“There’s a longstanding debate about how music affects listeners as a result of both prior experiences with music and the basic design of our psychology,” said Samuel Mehr, a Department of Psychology Research Associate and Principal Investigator at the Music Lab. “Common sense tells us that infants find the lullabies they hear relaxing. Is this just because they’ve experienced their parents’ singing before and know it means they’re safe and secure? Or is there also something universal about lullabies that produces these effects, independently of experience?”
Before you think it has to do with a connection with the parents singing, the study was done with recordings from the Natural History of Song Discography, using languages as varied as Gaelic, Hopi, and others. But all of the songs were created and performed with positive intentions. Lullabies always helped the child relax.
This research provides evidence that even if they don’t know who you are or what you are saying, singing in a loving way can relax an infant and improve their quality of life, as well as their caregivers. There is much more to learn on this study in our source.