Music Therapy in the NICU

Genetic Counseling

All patients in the Genetics Service are seen by board-certified medical geneticists and counselors in the areas of prenatal, cancer, pediatric, and adult genetics.

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Examples of NICU Music Therapy Interventions


Entertainment involves the application of live music elements centered to an infant’s vital signs that influence the body’s ability to regulate. The specially-designed instruments are used for this intervention: gato box and ocean disk.

Gato Box

Gato Box is used to create sound similar to heart beat, in this case mother’s heartbeat, which is the first sound a human being experiences within the mother’s womb.

Ocean Disk

Ocean Disk is a round disk that has numerous metal beads inside. It is used to replicate womb sounds, the familiar sound for infants; therefore, it supports infant’s self-regulation and facilitate relaxation. It is played to mirror the baby’s breath pattern.

Tonal Vocal Holding

Tonal Vocal Holding is the use of particular vowels/tones for specific region of the body when singing. The vowel of choice can be selected in accordance with infant’s needs.

Song of Kin

Song of kin is the song that is meaningful for the family. As a part of therapeutic process, parents and family select a meaningful song for infants and family. The music therapist turns those songs into a lullaby and integrates during the session. Caregivers are encouraged to sing for their infants as a way of bonding and facilitating attachment.

Environmental Music Therapy (EMT)

EMT is a music therapy intervention that is implemented to modulate a potentially overwhelming environment and enhance a healing environment in the NICU.