Preterm Infants Music Therapy Qualitative Study
We conducted a feasibility study of preterm infants’ music therapy (MT) to determine its acceptability and suitability for these premature children. MT involves parental singing tailored specifically to each infant’s responses, delivered during NICU and postdischarge phases. MT intervention seeks to improve mother-infant bonding as well as increase infant responsiveness to their parents’ voices.
We conducted a survey of parents of preterm infants in Norway to gain insight into their opinions regarding the goals and processes of medical therapy (MT). Qualitative data were collected through interviews with parents at discharge and 3 months corrected age (CA).
Participants in a Norwegian cohort that used Music Therapy during premature infants’ stay in the NICU and post-discharge phase expressed their approval of its use. They appreciated being able to observe their babies’ growth in responsiveness and interaction over time, noting that their musical engagement with them had increased with practice, which they attributed to resources learned during MT.
They reported that MT provided family members with unique opportunities to sing and play together, which their infants perceived as being “very nice”. Furthermore, the break in routine provided by MT allowed for much needed rest during long hospital stays.
Parents reported that the music therapy intervention provided them with insight into their infant’s musical responses and how they were connected to other aspects of development and psychiatric status, such as temperament, sleep patterns, and appetite. Furthermore, it enabled them to practice voice-to-voice interactions with their babies so that these skills would transfer outside of MT sessions.
Results indicated that parents rated the MT intervention as acceptable and suitable for their needs, though they wanted more information about its aims and specific approaches. They also mentioned that attending sessions wasn’t always easy – particularly for mothers – but were more willing to participate when their babies were in private NICU rooms.
Additionally, MT required more parental commitment than most other interventions in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Sessions were usually held twice weekly during the NICU phase and again two months after discharge; duration varied depending on each infant’s tolerance level but were usually around 20 minutes long.
At the start of each session in the NICU, the music therapist met with either parent or spouse and explained its purpose – whether it was to sing with their infant or provide brief psychotherapeutic support to parents. She also checked in with each parents’ treating nurse to make sure there were no contraindications for attending. If a family had an unexpected change of plans, text message notification was given prior to scheduled session in order to reschedule if possible.