Many expectant parents prepare for the arrival of a new baby by redecorating its intended bedroom in a soothing colour and buying lots of rattles and cuddly toys.
But new research suggests that the best way of ensuring a happy and contented newborn is by singing to it while it is still in the womb.
Mothers singing lullabies could improve maternal-infant bonding
Women and Birth journal
A study of 160 women found that those who sang lullabies both during pregnancy and after giving birth had babies who spent significantly shorter periods crying.
Around 170 pregnant women were split between those who were told to sing lullabies in the months immediately before and after birth and those who were not.
The babies in the singing group generally cried 18.5 per cent of the time compared to 28.2 per cent of the time in the group who were not sung to.
Meanwhile for those with colic - excessive or frequent crying where there is no ill health - the babies who had enjoyed prenatal lullabies tended to cry for about a quarter of the time.
Bonding was also analysed using a scientific measurement called the Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale while they also recorded hours of baby sleep, crying incidences and bouts of colic.
In the weeks after birth, the postnatal bonding measurement was higher among the singers - 1.96 against 1.28 on the scale.
The research was undertaken by the University of Milan and published in the journal Women and Birth.
The authors said: "Mothers singing lullabies could improve maternal-infant bonding. It could also have positive effects on neonatal behaviour and maternal stress."