Sounding Together: Family-Centered Music Therapy as Facilitator for Parental Singing During Skin-to-Skin Contact

  • Friederike HaslbeckEmail author
  • Pernilla Hugoson


Introduction: When it comes to the delicate relationship between a baby and its parents, the voices of the parents have a significant role in communicating love, tenderness, and closeness as well as in supporting self-regulation as necessary for secure attachment. Under suboptimal experiences, such as premature birth, infant-directed singing takes on an even more important and therapeutic role since preterm infants miss the finely attuned auditory stimulation of the womb and the mother-infant dyad is disrupted too early.

Main aims of the chapter: In this chapter, we will draw from theory foundation, research, and clinical experience to explore the role of the parents’ voices in early family-centered interventions in the NICU. Topics will include how infant-directed singing may create meaningful interaction, mutual co-regulation, emotional synchronization, and finely attuned stimulation for vulnerable preterm infants at risk of neurodevelopmental alterations. We will describe how singing for and with parents can motivate and empower parents in using their own voice for their baby. We will introduce how working with parents facilitates sensitivity to infant cues, thus enhancing the quality of parent-infant interactions and ultimately promoting paternal self-efficacy. We will discuss it in the light of the importance of early close relationship building between baby and parent, a base for further development of cognition, language, and emotions.

Conclusions: When we support parents to sing and/or use their voice in an infant-directed and responsive way, e.g., during skin-to-skin contact, we can facilitate self-regulation and nurture multimodal stimulation in a perfectly natural way for both, the baby and the parents. It contains the baby’s need for closeness and safety and the parents’ need of taking care and connecting emotionally.


Music therapist Preterm infants Family-centered intervention Parental voice Skin-to-skin contact 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinic of Neonatology at University Hospital Zurich and University Hospital BernZurich & BernSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of Jyväskylä, Finland and Karolinska InstituteSolnaSweden

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