Parents will do just about anything to get their baby to go to sleep. While it's arguably the most important part of baby's mental, emotional, and physical development, sleep can be hard to come by when babies are going through so much change in such a short amount of time. Of all the recommended tips and tricks to help baby rest, singing and/or playing music is high on the list. But should you play music to get your baby to sleep? After all, convenience should never trump safety.
If you think of music in terms of how music and tempo affect adults, the answer is clear: what changes your mood could change your baby's mood, too The Baby Center backs up this claim by pointing to the benefits adults gain in listening to soothing music to calm them down, or upbeat music to re-frame and improve their mood. Some may argue that putting on music may even boost your baby's brain cells, essentially making them smarter, but the jury's still out on substantial proof a solid beat will raise your baby's IQ.
If you're still unsure as to whether or not you're going to play music during your baby's bedtime, it's important to consider both sides of the argument before making a decision. As cited in Parents, a common mistake parents make at bedtime is relying on crutches — such as music — as they interfere with baby's natural ability to put themselves to sleep. The use of aids, such as white noise machines or fans, aren't uncommon, though, so what's the difference? The Baby Sleep Site defines white noise as a means of drowning out other noises, adding that white noise mimics the sounds inside the womb, which can be very soothing.
Baby Sleep Site also mentions that music, lullabies, or anything you do during the bedtime routine may inadvertently become a sleep association that your baby can learn to rely on. This means that if you decide to play music, your baby may become reliant on those tunes to fall asleep every night. This also means they'll need you to be in charge of starting and stopping the music. Another issue worth considering is that your baby's ability to self-soothe and fall back to sleep on their own if they wake in the night may be negatively impacted if they've learn to rely on music. It's definitely something to think about if you're wanting to minimize sleep associations (like rocking, bottles, and breastfeeding).
Alternatively, however, a small study discussed on BBC News suggests music may be a natural pain-reliever, helping colicky, fussy babies' wellbeing. If you have a fussy baby, playing calming music at bedtime could be a major game-changer when it comes to the amount of sleep your baby is able to enjoy.
The bottom line is that playing music to help baby fall asleep seems to have more pros than cons — even if it becomes a sleep association. As long as it doesn't bother you to start and stop the music, and your baby is getting enough sleep, it's all a matter of preference. You know, kind of like almost every single parenting decision you'll ever make.