Singing Enhances Mother-Infant Bond Even When Mom Has PostPartum Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shannon K. de l’Etoile, Ph.D., MT-BC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Professor, Music Therapy University of Miami Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music Coral Gables, FL

Dr. de l’Etoile

Shannon K. de l’Etoile, Ph.D., MT-BC
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
Professor, Music Therapy
University of Miami
Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music
Coral Gables, FL

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Infant-directed (ID) singing allows infants to have emotionally-synchronized interactions with caregivers, during which they gain valuable experience in self-regulation. Maternal depression can disrupt mother-infant interaction, thus hindering infants’ efforts at self-regulation and possibly contributing to a depressed interaction style that can generalize to infant interaction with strangers. Additionally, maternal depression can alter the acoustic parameters of ID singing, such that mothers may not modify musical elements (i.e., tempo and key), to accommodate infant state.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Infants of depressed mothers did not demonstrate a depressed interaction style with their mother or with a stranger during ID singing. In addition, infants with and without depressed mothers showed the ability to discriminate their mother from a stranger within an ID singing interaction. Thus, ID singing seems to enhance mother-infant interaction such that infants engage in behaviors related to self-regulation, even when mothers report depression. Findings support the idea of combining ID singing and interaction coaching as a therapeutic intervention.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Even when experiencing post-partum depression, mothers are capable of providing developmentally-appropriate stimulation in the form of ID singing in such a manner that is likely to promote infant self-regulation. This finding should empower mothers who have depression, who may also feel or think negatively about their parenting skills.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future investigations should explore whether or not mothers with depression provide ID singing in the natural home environment, and gauge infant response in that setting. Should these findings be favorable, applied research in which mothers with depression receive interaction coaching with ID singing could further benefit infants in regard to self-regulation.

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Citation:

The Arts in Psychotherapy
Volume 39, Issue 5, November 2012, Pages 353–366
Responses to infant-directed singing in infants of mothers with depressive symptoms
Shannon K. de l’Etoile, PhD, MT-BC,

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