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Science Has Figured Out the Best Way to Make a Baby Happy

Photograph by Twenty20

It seems that science has finally solved the age-old question that parents have been fighting, crying and stressing about since the dawn of time: How do you make your baby happy? Apparently, it all comes down to music.

Any parent who has ever wanted to soothe the cries of their child or amuse their little one for pleasure might be curious to find out that experts have teamed up to solve the riddle. The result? They came up with "The Happy Song."

So how did they come up with this glorious little ditty that has made these babies laugh and smile and otherwise enjoy themselves?

U.K. baby food manufacturer Cow & Gate wanted to come up with an innovative idea, so they asked child development expert Caspar Addyman and musical psychologist Lauren Stewart to "analyze existing science about infant preferences in order come up with the ideal parameters for a baby-friendly pop hit," according to Time. The company's one major requirement: The song had to be "proven to make babies happy."

The two experts did extensive research before ultimately deciding to hire Grammy-winning composer and vocalist Imogen Heap. The former co-founder of the British electronic duo Frou Frou and herself a mother to an 18-month-old girl, Imogen got to work to put together a melody following some of the ground rules that Addyman and Stewart set forth. The song had to be in a major key, it had to be simple and repetitive, and it had to have a broad range of dynamics in order to keep the baby surprised and tuned in.

That's not all it takes to make a hit record for a baby, however. Imogen was also instructed to keep the song uptempo to mirror the baby's heartbeat, which is faster than that of an adult, and it had to have a lively female voice track. Even more, it had to be "ideally recorded in the presence of an actual baby."

The last tidbit might sound like an odd request. After all, what does it matter if the song is recorded in a happy male voice or a cheery female voice? Well, interestingly enough, it seems that babies actually tend to favor the "sing-song tones that women often use around infants," according to previous studies.

And while all of this may explain why mom might be better at lulling baby back to sleep, it also explains the results of "The Happy Song" video in which we can see seven families thoroughly enjoying the tune.

The final ingredient to their success? "The secret was to make it silly and make it social," Addyman said. Mainly, he and Stewart surveyed Cow & Gate customers and found out just which sounds are pleasing to their babies. Afterwards, songwriter Imogen included some of these noises (such as "beep beep!" and "whee!") into the video.

The result, filled with many noises that babies love, seems to speak for itself. Now it's time to go test it for yourself.

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