February 8, 2017 - 5:59pm
Experts have teamed up to answer a question that any parent wishing to soothe or amuse a little one would appreciate the answer to: What kind of music do babies like?
Caspar Addyman, an expert in child development, and Lauren Stewart, a musical psychologist, were asked by U.K. baby food manufacturer Cow & Gate to analyze existing science about infant preferences in order come up with the ideal parameters for a baby-friendly pop hit—one that was "proven to make babies happy."
After extensive research, the two hired Grammy-winning composer and vocalist Imogen Heap — formerly of the synth-pop duo Frou Frou and mother to an 18-month-old girl — to put together a melody following some ground rules: it had to be in a major key, be simple and repetitive, and have a broad range of dynamics to keep the baby surprised and tuned in.
The song also had to be uptempo, mirroring a baby's heartbeat, which is faster than a human's, and it had to have a lively female vocal track, “ideally recorded in the presence of an actual baby.” Previous studies have shown that babies tend to be partial to the sing-song tones that women often use around infants.
“The secret was to make it silly and make it social,” Addyman say, so they surveyed Cow & Gate customers to find out which sounds made their babies laugh. Heap then packed in as many of the sounds as she could, like “beep beep!” and "whee!" and other noises that babies love.