When I first read this article I thought that the authors had rigged up a system to play music actually in the babies mouth, but I think I was wrong about that.
Chorna OD, Slaughter JC, Wang L, Stark AR, Maitre NL: A pacifier-activated music player with mother’s voice improves oral feeding in preterm infants. Pediatrics 2014.
This was a randomized trial in preterm babies who were learning to orally feed. What they did was record mothers of preterm babies singing or talking. Then in the intervention group they used, for 15 minutes per day during 5 consecutive days, a pacifier that had been rigged up with a trigger, so that during a period of quiet wakefulness, if they sucked hard enough on the pacifier a recording of the mothers voice was played. It looks like they didn’t get a pacifier at any other time during those 5 days. The controls got a pacifier without any electronics. And the voice came out of loudspeakers a few inches away from the baby (not from the pacifier).
The primary outcome was how much milk the baby sucked from a bottle comparing before and after the intervention. As this is a period of time when feeding competence improves rapidly a control group is essential, if we can get babies to feed better faster then they should be able to get home faster as well.
The results showed that babies with the mother’s voice intervention sucked more strongly over the 5 days, had a greater increase in the volume of milk that they took, had a better increase in the number of oral feeds per day, and seem to have gone home earlier (not statistically significant. Mothers are important after all, or at least their voices!