Lullabies, or cradle songs, are usually slow songs with repetitive and rhyming lyrics sung to make babies sleep. Research has shown that hearing soft, rhythmic words makes babies calmer and secure, thus lulling them to sleep.
It is a wonderful addition to any bedtime routine because it also makes for a lovely bonding experience. A favorite lullaby can become your love song for your child, one that will pacify him through the worst tantrum, or the anchor that will pull her home even when she’s grown.
My husband and I saw the power of lullabies when our daughter was a newborn. One of the best gifts that we received when she was born was a book and CD of lullabies which we played while the days-old Energizer Bunny slept.
We realized early on how the songs soothed and calmed her, resulting in better sleep for our otherwise light sleeper. Eventually, even her yaya discovered how playing the CD cued the Energizer Bunny for downtime, which made naptimes more peaceful. The Energizer Bunny got so familiar with this routine that as she got older, she would start crying upon hearing the first few bars of “All the Pretty Horses” because she refused to take a nap!
Thankfully, attending Kindermusik classes made me discover new songs to help relax and lull the Energizer Bunny. Contemporary songs, sung with a soft, gentle tone, can replace the traditional nursery rhymes that we know. Here is a list of some of my favorites that helped when “Hush, Little Baby” was no longer doing its magic:
1. Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine
Cuddle up a little closer, lovey mine
Cuddle up and be my little clinging vine….
This classic song from the 1943 movie Coney Island remains to be my favorite discovery in the Kindermusik repertoire because if you know the Energizer Bunny you know how she really is my little clinging vine! It is such a perfect song for cuddling and snuggling with a baby. Listen to an a capella version of song here.
2. Lean on Me
I realize I may be giving away my age by saying this, but this classic by Bill Withers was used in a face powder commercial in the early 1990s. I remember seeing how my baby cousin, who I often took care of, reacted every time he heard that TVC. Singing this song to him never failed to calm him down during crying bouts or to lull him to sleep. Bonus points for the touching lyrics that express what is in every parent’s heart. “Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on…”
3. Over the Rainbow
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullabye.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.”
A reflective song with such calming imagery. Hearing this song written for the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie always reminds me of sweet, happy dreams. Watch Judy Garland sing the original version of this song in this movie clip.
4. House at Pooh Corner
I have imagined singing this Kenny Loggins hit to my future child way before I became a mom. It is, for me, both a nostalgic tribute to a parent’s own childhood and his fervent promise of a childhood filled with memories for his baby.
“After all’s said and done I was watching my son
Sleeping there with my bed by his side.
So I tucked him in, and kissed him,
And as I was going,
I swear that old bear whispered, ‘Boy, welcome home!'”
Happiness is finding a pencil, knowing a secret, telling the time…
Parents from my era will mostly likely find themselves reminiscing as they sing this song from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown to their babies. It certainly brought me back to a time when Lea Salonga was a girl in pigtails and frilly dresses singing this song with her brother, Gerard. This simple but heartwarming song speaks of every parent’s dream for her child – simple joys and true happiness.
6. When You Wish Upon a Star
“When you wish upon a star,
makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
will come to you…”
The tone, the rhythm, and the words of this song from the soundtrack of Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio makes it a perfect lullaby. Nothing will calm a baby more than the image of a clear night sky peppered with bright, twinkling stars.
We’d love to know what songs you can add to this list!