Baby in the Dandle® ROO2 positioning aid, laying on the Tranquilo® Soothing Mat.

What’s The Buzz About Vibration?

Vibration is everywhere: in our cars while we drive, on our phones or pagers, in the laundry room from the running clothes dryer, and in the bathroom when the water is running. We even have vibrating toothbrushes. Anything with motion or a motor produces vibration.

Vibrating bouncy seats have long been a home staple for managing fussy newborns. Vibration is shown to ease acute pain, calm children with sensory processing differences, and reduce muscle tightness and spasms. According to the Gate Theory, it interrupts pain transmission in both the afferent and efferent pain pathways.

What about vibration used in the NICU?

According to the study completed by Sequi-Canet et al. (2022), the NICU incubator alone provides a constant source of vibration. High-frequency ventilators such as the Jet and oscillating ventilators also produce constant vibratory input to the infant. Several studies have shown how vibration at the site of the painful prick for blood collection can reduce the pain experience significantly.

Vibration has been used in pediatric to neonatal ICU to reduce the distress of neonatal abstinence and neonatal opioid withdrawal.  Zuzarte et al. (2017) demonstrated the effectiveness of vibration for NOWS symptoms, while Smith et al. (2015) demonstrated the regulatory effect of vibration on apnea and bradycardia in the newborn population. Vibration that is applied appropriately has become an effective pain management strategy in dentistry, intensive care, and the emergency room.

Vibration can be applied locally using a small vibrating tool, or across the body using a vibrating mat. Dandle•LION Medical provides the Tranquilo® Soothing Mat for this very purpose. There are several optional protocols for vibration use in the NICU. Protocols should be created from the literature evidence and hospital policies for safe equipment use.


Smith, V; Kelty-Stephen, D.; Ahmed, M; Mao, W; Cakert,K.; Osborn, J.; Paydarfar, D.  Stochastic Resonance Effects on Apena, Bradycardia and oxygenation: a Randomized Control Trial. Pediatrics (2015) 136 (6): e1561 – 1568.

Sequí-Canet JM, Rey-Tormos Rd, Alba-Fernández J, González-Mazarías G. Vibroacoustic Study in the Neonatal Ward. Healthcare. 2022; 10(7):1180.  

Zuzarte I, Indic P, Barton B, Paydarfar D, Bednarek F, Bloch-Salisbury E (2017) Vibrotactile stimulation: A non-pharmacological intervention for opioid-exposed newborns. PLoS ONE 12(4):e0175981.

Headshot of Elizabeth Jeanson, PT, DPT, CNT, NTMTC, DCS

by Elizabeth Jeanson, PT, DPT, CNT, DCS, NTMTC

Elizabeth is a Clinical Consultant for Dandle•LION Medical and the Developmental Specialist and Neonatal Therapist in Neonatal Intensive Care at Sandford Children’s Hospital/USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Read more about Elizabeth in her Dandy Clinician Spotlight.