I came across an article saying that singing is more efficient than speech at keeping infants calm and delaying the onset of crying, citing a new Canadian study. Newborns may benefit from a soothing tune, but for older babies and preschoolers it's better to choose something lively and familiar, such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Old MacDonald Had a Farm", recommends study co-author Sandra E. Trehub, PhD.
I'm very interested in this topic, so I contacted Dr Sandra E. Trehub. She replied to my email and suggested to talk before I even had time to go through her very impressive list of publications. Listening to her was fascinating and helped me to understand our books better.
Older babies and preschoolers are soothed by nursery songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" because the songs remind them the comforting feeling they had when they heard them from their care givers, often the mother. The soothing effect does not come from the nursery song itself but from the babies memory of hearing it and the familiar feeling associated with the song. The most important part in this process is the interaction between the caregivers and the babies. If you're not confident in your singing skills and if you want to avoid using phone or tablet, musical books help to create these precious musical moments with your little one.