From the Mission Regional Medical Center website:
Medical research indicates premature infants grow faster and begin normal feeding patterns sooner when they are exposed to soft music.
The reasons for this are still unclear, Ilizarov said. One theory is that the tempo of the music – generally between 60 and 80 beats per minute – mimics the maternal heartbeat familiar from their months in utero. After the assault of light and sound, cold temperatures and hard or rough surfaces, a reminder of the womb can help the youngest finish the development stages they weren’t able to due to their early arrival.
“I try to find music that is not too adagio, but you don’t want to go crazy with the allegretto, either,” joked Ilizarov, who was trained as a concert pianist and uses the Italian words for slow and speedy tempos that are common musical notations.
This is hardly a surprise. Given that babies exposed in utero to classical music show significant gains over their peers as early as six months of age, it’s no wonder that it would help premature infants as well. The neurological and physical development tasks are still the same, and this just makes good sense.
If you’re involved with premature infants, whether as a parent, older sibling, doctor, nurse, or someone else close to a premature infant, the research definitely supports the developmental effect of classical music for their benefit. Classical music is easy to get–it’s in every local library and available on the internet for free–and can make an enormous difference in the amount of time a premature infant may spend in the NICU. Babies exposed to classical music in the NICU left an average of 11 days earlier than infants not exposed to classical music.