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Rock-A-Bye Baby – The power of mother’s song

(NC)-Twinkle, twinkle little star. The Itsy bitsy spider. Hush little baby.

rock-a-bye-baby.jpgMothers have always known that singing is an easy way to keep babies happy. But is there more to it than just silly rhymes and gestures?

Sandra Trehub at the University of Toronto seems to think so.

“Songs capture and hold babies’ attention more than ordinary speech does,” explains Trehub. “You can even see it-babies calm down and fix their eyes on the mothers when they sing. It’s a highly pleasurable experience for them.”

Trehub, a professor of psychology, has studied music in the lives of babies for the past thirty years. Her research, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), shows that babies are more interested in lullabies than other songs and can even tell the difference between a real mother’s voice and a recording.

According to Trehub, mothers perform songs for their babies in a distinctive way. When they sing to their babies they add emotional qualities that are absent when they sing to others or to themselves.

“The baby’s presence influences the mother’s feelings and these feelings are reflected in her performance,” says Trehub.

Trehub is now working to determine whether babies’ attention to songs can be used to help them learn. She’s already discovered that babies as young as 13 months of age can be taught new words using songs.

So keep on singing those songs, moms! You and your children will be happier for it.

You can learn about other SSHRC-funded research on the Council’s Web site (

– News Canada

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