A Randomized Pilot Study of Rhythm-Based Music with Movement Strategies on Stress and Interaction Behaviors of Infant Caregivers
Consistent, prolonged, and nurturing interactions of a primary caregiver with an infant is necessary for optimal development of the infant. Lowering parental stress can promote positive caregiver-infant social interaction behaviors. Studies show that when caregivers use rhythm-based music and movement strategies during interactions with their infants, non-verbal communication, mutual attunement, and self-reported stress levels improve. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine caregiver benefits (stress hormones and positive interaction behaviors) when learning rhythm-based music with movement strategies while interacting with their infant. This was achieved through randomization of caregiver/infant dyads to a treatment (instructional intervention) or control condition with no instruction. Significantly lower salivary cortisol levels and lower salivary cortisol/DHEA ratio values pre-post were observed for the treatment condition as compared to control. These findings suggest that learning and using rhythm-based music and movement interventions are promising for lowering stress in caregivers. The impact of the intervention with families at risk due to stress-related environmental factors should be further investigated. In addition, observing social emotional behaviors and stress hormone levels of the infant is suggested.
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