How’s this for a baby song? “Hush, little baby, don’t you cry. It’s bedtime, that’s why.” These are my clutch nap time and bedtime lullabies.
As a father of two young baby girls, I’ve found out the hard way what works and what doesn’t. For example, my girls love Masha and the Bear, but they both dislike Peppa Pig. Both of them also like the Minions from Despicable Me, but abhor most other cartoons.
During the first months of life for my eldest daughter, Samantha, I found out that she doesn’t really enjoy baby songs, unless they’re sung to her. She spent months listening to baby lullabies that promised to put babies to sleep. However, she was wide, wide awake. The lullaby songs actually had the unintended effect of waking her up. Yet, when I sang to her the same lullabies for nap time in my arms, she fell asleep.
Talk about on-hands parenting experience.
Based on my short experience as a parent, I’ve compiled a very short list of the songs that works for babies.
The best nap time songs are the ones you sing out to your child. This is due to several reasons. Babies feel secure in your arms as well as your body warmth. According to research, the first three years of life is when babies tacitly learn how the social world works. This non-conscious learning eventually becomes wired to the brain. In fact, check out what research shows.
“With responsive care, the brain’s systems learn to work well and thereby keep the person healthy and socially engaged. What is learned during early life will be applied ever after to relationships (unless changed with therapy or other significant brain-changing experiences).”
Singing to your child instead of playing a music video will have them feeling secure. It’s a direct form of communication to your child. In fact, in many indigenous cultures, the mother is expected to create and sing a unique song for the child, forming the spirit of their children.
1. Hush, Little Baby
This is the first song that I sung to Samantha four months before she was born. When I first held her in my arms, I couldn’t help but sing the song aloud. After suffering terrible head trauma late last year, I was unable to form new memories for several months. Yet, once I held Sam, I instinctively sung her this lullaby.
This song still works wonders; so much so that despite my Samantha being older, she still becomes sleepy almost instantly during nap time and even bedtime. This song also works with my second daughter, which obviously makes Samantha very jealous. The original song has Mama, but, obviously, I changed up the lyrics to Papa, and now, Daddy.
This baby song was first written in the Southern United States, though the actual author and the date of writing is unknown.
2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
My wife didn’t stand the idea of singing the same song to our second daughter, Joy. I chose Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as Joy’s song.
This song is a popular English lullaby. The actual lyrics are from an early 19th century English poem by Jane Taylor titled The Star. The current lullaby was published by Taylor and her sister Ann in 1806 as part of Rhymes for the Nursery.
There’s an interesting parody of the lullaby in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Instead of a little star, the Mad Hatter (or simply The Hatter), sings Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat.
American doo-wop vocal group The Elegants released their own version of the song in 1958 simply titled Little Star. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 that same year.
3. Rock-a-Bye Baby
To be honest, I didn’t realize how cruel this baby song really was until I was a teenager. Picture this: for some reason, a baby is in a cradle. The cradle is on the treetop. Suddenly, the wind starts blowing. The cradle starts rocking. Then, the bough breaks. Immediately, the baby comes crashing down along with the cradle. In the music video above, the daddy saves the baby, but not in the original. The baby most certainly meets a horrible end.
Rock-a-Bye Baby is a song I’ve used as a “finisher,” after singing their favorite lullabies to my daughters.
This song doubles as a nursing rhyme and a lullaby. The original melody is a variant of an English satirical ballad used during the English Civil War. The first printed version was published in Mother Goose’s Melody in London in 1765. There are several alternate versions of this song that exist. However, the most commonly used is the one described in the first paragraph.