Haven House is able to offer music therapy to babies and their families who are experiencing neonatal care. We currently offer this each week at Whipps Cross Special care Baby Unit, in partnership with our colleagues at Barts Health. We know that it can be an anxious time when your baby needs special neonatal care, and that the experience of being in hospital can be stressful. Music therapy can support you and your baby in lots of ways during this tough time.

Music Therapy is offered for parents and their babies on the Special Care Baby Unit by a qualified music therapist who uses live music and sound to replicate the sound environment found in the womb. Through the use of lullabies, melodic singing and rhythm, these individualised sessions aim to provide comfort and stability, promote bonding and attachment and provide developmental stimulation during a crucial period of growth for the baby.

Research studies show that music therapy can help premature babies by:

• stabilising heart rate

• increasing oxygen saturation levels

• improving sleep and sucking reflexes

• decreasing stress

• reducing pain.

Taking part in music therapy can also reduce stress and anxiety for parents.

Reasons to sing to your baby

Babies learn to recognise the sound of your voice from early in the womb. Your voice has the power to soothe and calm your baby. Babies love being sung to and singing is known to regulate their mood and strengthen the emotional bond between you and your baby. Lullabies have been found to be particularly beneficial for babies. A lullaby is a soothing, repetitive song that babies respond well to due to its simplicity and slow tempo. Here are some tips;

1) Don’t worry if you don’t think you can sing! Your baby will just love the sound of your voice, which will be familiar and reassuring after hearing it in the womb.

2) You don’t need to know all the words! Your baby won’t be hearing the individual words, but will be listening to the ups and downs of the melody.

3) Try different songs for different times of day i.e. a feeding song, a kangaroo care song, a sleeping song etc. Your baby will learn to recognise these and be reassured by the routines the songs provide.

4) If you don’t know any lullabies, just sing a song that is meaningful to you. Maybe something that was sung to you as a child?

5) Persevere! The benefits of singing to premature babies are well researched and long lasting, and include quicker discharge from hospital, increased bonding and attachment and higher levels of receptive and expressive language in early childhood.

6) If you don’t feel able to sing, then just talking to your baby can help them immeasurably. Read a story, talk about what is going to happen to them next or just chat about your day.

7) It is the spontaneity and intimacy of your own voice that your baby will respond to, but you can also play recorded music. Babies particularly respond to music they heard whilst in the womb – try and think back to what you listened to whilst pregnant. Babies can recognise this and will be soothed by it.

Music therapy can support you and your baby in several ways, particularly if you are experiencing difficulties with:

• Bonding.

The therapist might musically support your interactions during skin to skin contact via soft, gentle musical accompaniment or singing, or might encourage you to sing to your baby

• Breathing.

The therapist might provide your baby with a rhythm that mimics the human heart beat, which your baby can then attune to, in order to lengthen and regulate their breathing

• Sucking and feeding.

The music therapist can provide steady rhythmic sounds during feeding which can help babies to maintain a  steady mouth motion

•Crying and pain.

The music therapist might sing in tones that match your baby’s cry, easing and altering their experience of pain for them, or offer white noise in the form of an ocean drum. This mimics sounds your baby will recognise from the womb, and can help them to feel safe and secure.

How can I access music therapy?

The Music Therapist is available at Whipps Cross SCBU every Wednesday afternoon, between 2:00pm - 5:00pm. Families can request the service by talking to a member of staff.

For more information, please contact:

Email our Music Therapy team
020 8505 9944