For at least 4,000 years now, parents are using the lullabies to soothe their newborns off to sleep. Despite the general assumption that lullabies help babies relax, it wasn’t until fairly recently that scientists began to understand exactly why these gentle tunes are so effective.
One simple explanation is that lullabies feature a triple meter, or 6/8 time. This gives the song a rocking or swaying rhythm, closely matching the movements the fetus experienced while in the womb. By recreating this womb experience through song, parents can comfort a child and soothe him or her off to sleep.
– Regulate emotions: Music helps to regulate emotions of both children and adults. When a child is upset at bedtime, it makes sense that a parent would turn to something to help control those emotions transforming a negative emotion such as fear into a positive emotion. Lullabies successfully create the emotional atmosphere necessary for a peaceful bedtime.
– Create a stronger bond between parent and child: Mothers might remember this hormone is as the contraction hormone of labor or the breastfeeding hormone, but it does pop up during lullaby-time as well. Oxytocin is released during singing. Song-induced oxytocin is important because oxytocin is also known as the hormone of love and the cuddle hormone. This is why it helps to build stronger bonds in a relationship.
– Establish a routine: Lullabies also work because they help establish a bedtime routine. Going through the same motions every night helps the child adjust from day to evening. These little events whether a warm, lavender-scented bath or a cozy storytime by the fireplace all send signals to the child’s brain that bedtime is coming. When the child receives the clues, the child can accept the bedtime much easier.