Preemies Rocking Out (Music Therapy in the NICU)

I love music. Especially live music. My parents took me to my first concert (Bonnie Raitt) when I was 10. I spent a better part of my early 20’s traveling to Phish concerts and music festivals. As an adult, my parents and I loved seeing live music together. Now, one of my favorite things to do is go to a concert with my husband and my dad.

So when I found out that St Cloud had a music therapy program, I was thrilled. Volunteers came every week to play live harp music in the pods. The first week of Jax’s life, he got to listen to beautiful, soothing harp music…and his breath evened out. His heart rate was stable. He slept so soundly, I hadn’t ever seen him so calm! The music definitely had a positive impact on Jax.

But when we got to St Paul, their policy was no music until 35 weeks gestation. Which made sense. There is a lot of research that shows that preemies do better in silence. But a recent article published in the journal Pediatrics, confirmed my belief that “soft music, closely matched to a preemie’s vital signs, can have clear benefits.”

When Jax arrived in St Paul, he was about 27 weeks gestation. That was a long time to wait! So, I didn’t…

I’m not advocating going against hospital policy, but in our case, I had seen first hand the positive reaction Jax had to music. I knew it was something that would help him relax and rest. So, I started playing soft music on my laptop for him. I started with classical music for about 15 minutes a day. I watched him carefully to see if he was showing any signs of distress. He never did.

Then, I started playing him some of my favorite music. I played the Dire Straits, Dire Straits album almost everyday! I also played Ziggy Marley, Family Time and Kenny Burrell, Midnight Blue a lot. I sang all the time to him. And I still do!

Jax definitely benefited from listening to soft music while in the NICU. And I think it’s stuck with him! Anytime he hears music, he starts rocking and dancing – he loves it! Maybe he’ll be the next music prodigy…all because we chose to introduce him to music at such a young age!


Author: Andrea M

Oh man, what an adventure! I went into labor unexpectedly when I was 23w3d pregnant. Jaxson was born weighing 1 lb 8 oz. A tiny little peanut, but boy was he feisty. He still is! We love it now, but we probably won't when he is a teenager. I write about our journey and all other things that come with it, including a brain tumor. We look forward to "meeting" you - come hang out with us...we're pretty cool.

6 thoughts on “Preemies Rocking Out (Music Therapy in the NICU)”

  1. Charlie currently participates in music therapy. She loves it and I feel it has helped her so much. BTW, I may have bumped into you in the Phish lot back in the day 🙂


    1. Ha! Ah yes, the Phish lot…I met so many amazing people, I wouldn’t doubt that our paths crossed! What is the diagnosis for Charlie’s music therapy? I want to get Jax into something like that, but I’m unsure how to get started…


      1. Officially, it helps with her sensory issues and her speech delays. I have noticed that it has helped with her motor skills and hand eye coordination (playing xylophones, beating drums, etc). To get started, I emailed a local community music school (a non profit) and told them about Charlie. I wasn’t sure if music therapy or the Music Together class was more appropriate for her skill level. They invited me to meet with the music therapist and sit in the Music Together class to see what was best. Music therapy was the best choice for her.


      2. Thanks for the information! Jax and I sat in on a Music Together class, too. He liked it, but it was a little too advanced for him at the time. Plus, it was out of our budget. That’s why I’m wondering if music “therapy” would be an option that insurance may pay for. I’ll look into it! Thanks for sharing.


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