08/03/01
Noisy Music to Sleep By
    by Rosie Russo

Well, not just any noise. It's those ambient sounds that fill the background of our lives, and babies' lives, too -- that's called "white noise." Here's a little from one of the cuts on "For Crying Out Loud -- Unlikely Sounds to Calm your Baby" -- see if you can place it:

This is from "Gentle Cycle" -- eight minutes of the sounds of the washing machine. All of the eight tracks on this CD have clever titles, like "Low-commotion," with the sounds of a car's wipers in the rain, and "Give it a Restaurant" -- who would have thought that the clatter of cutlery at the neighborhood eatery would have a soothing effect on an infant? But then you've probably noticed how babies often seem to fall asleep in the midst of auditory chaos, and how often we adults also need certain kinds of sounds to calm us before bedtime -- a radio playing quietly next to our ears, the clicks of crickets, or the familiar bustle of others moving around in the house.

Researchers have speculated that this has to do with our constant closeness to sounds as we grew in our mother's womb and were bathed in the comforting aural music of her heartbeat. Which is why, for several decades, many pediatric wards have been provided newborn infants with teddy bears or other stuffed animals that have tape recorders built into them to play what the creators of this CD call "Chamber Music" -- that first, iambic rhythm of life.

Copyright 2001 by Rosie Russo

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for the Study of Children's Literature and Media and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."