NICU Speaker Ansley Lethco, Delaney Shellnutt, Megan Macdonell

The Problem

This project started off as one of our group member's interest in working in the NICU. After interviewing a friend about areas that needed improvement in her field, the issue of infant stimulation came up. Infants staying in critical care are hooked up to machines and unable to experience extended periods of skin-to-skin contact. Nurses are spread thin while caring for more critical patients and cannot provide this aspect for the developing infants.

The Development

Our first idea for an innovation was to come up with a swing-like cradle the infants could be in while the nurses cared for other patients. However, after further research, we discovered that swings would not be considered "sleep-safe" and the infants could not be left unattended creating another responsibility for NICU nurses. So, we began researching other methods of pacification and stimulation for these infants while in their incubators.

The Product

The design includes a speaker that attaches to the NICU incubators. This speaker can record a lullaby or rhythm played by a parent or nurse. If the baby begins to cry, the speaker can play the pre-recorded sound until the crying stops. There are buttons that can allow the nurse to begin playing the sound at anytime.


  • Nurses are able to focus on more critical patients
  • Infants are stimulated and soothed in an efficient manner
  • Music helps stimulate brain development in pre-mature babies


  • Music could be distracting if many of the speakers are playing simultaneously
  • Infants crying due to a medical emergency may be put off
  • Music is not a replacement for the benefits of physical touch

Speaker Attached to an Incubator

Buttons include: Rewind, Fast Forward, On/Off, Volume Up, Volume Down, and Record

Pre-recorded tracks include: "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Rock-A-Bye Baby"

There is an option to record a parent's voice to promote attachment. The parent can simply hold the 'record' button for 3 seconds, start singing, and then hold the button for 3 seconds again when they want to stop the recording.

Different Points of View

MamaRoo Swing

MamaRoos allow the child to feel the stimulation of being held and rocked, but are not considered "sleep-safe." Parents should not leave their babies in these unsupervised. The use of these in the NICU is feasible, but only when a nurse can give the baby their undivided attention.

SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet

This bassinet provides safe swaddling, but it does not provide all of the benefits that the incubator does. It would also take up too much room in the NICU considering there are already incubators in there.

In-ceiling speaker

This is another alternative approach to our speaker. An in-ceiling speaker could play lullabies at all times, but it could potentially cause issues such as playing over babies crying, machine notifications, or hospital announcements.


Considering the environment of the NICU and the issue we were tackling, the attachable speaker was the easiest to make, safest, and most cost efficient innovation. The combination of the incubator and music therapy creates an innovation that saves nurses time as well as helping the development of critical care infants. The NICU speaker benefits both the patients and the nurses.

Links for Pictures:



Flyer information: https://www.marchofdimes.org/materials/WPD2015-Activity-Toolkit-forPartners.pdf


Created with images by Mylene2401 - "baby newborn hand" • Mylene2401 - "hospital teddy ill" • Engin_Akyurt - "baby small little" • Mylene2401 - "baby feet background newborn feet"