Comforting your baby and small children or getting them to fall asleep peacefully can be a tall order. Many parents have turned to classic children’s songs and lullabies to lull their babies into slumber. Singing these tunes to your child or playing them from your device may be the magic that’s needed to comfort them when they're upset. Music can, indeed, sooth young children to sleep. If nap times and bedtimes are challenging for you and your little one, be sure to give these classic children’s songs and lullabies a try.
Gentle lyrics like “may the moon's silvery beams bring you sweet dreams” are the cornerstone of Brahm’s Lullaby, a classic song of slumber that remains as beautiful now as on the day it was written. Sometimes referred to as “The Cradle Song,” this lullaby was originally published in 1868. It has been comforting both old and young alike ever since. Johannes Brahm’s composed the lullaby for a friend on the birth of her second son. It was first performed publically in 1869 in the city of Vienna.
“Hush Little Baby” is a traditional lullaby that originated in the United States, but its date of origin and author are unknown. The lyrics of this folk lullaby promise baby all sorts of things if he or she will just “hush.” Many popular recording artists like James Taylor, Joan Baez, and Nina Simone have offered their own versions of this classic song. A mockingbird, diamond ring, and looking glass may not be appealing rewards to every small child, but the song’s sweet melody has a way of soothing their cries nonetheless.
A nursery song and lullaby, “Rock-a-Bye Baby” dates to the first publication of Mother Goose’s Melody in the year 1765. The song’s origins appear to be English, but there are many different theories about the lullaby. Some say the tune dates to the Glorious Revolution. Others believe it refers to “Protestant” winds sweeping over to England from the continent. Whatever its true origin may be, this lullaby continues to be a favorite among parents gently rocking their infants to sleep.
“When You Wish Upon a Star” was written for the 1940 Walt Disney film Pinocchio. Its sweet lyrics and gentle melody may leave your child feeling peacefully inclined toward slumber. In the film, the song is originally sung by the character Jiminy Cricket. The magic of Disney appeals to so many young children. At bedtime, this might just be the magical melody that helps your little one drift off to sleep as they reflect on wishes and starry skies.
The song “My Favorite Things” was originally written for Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music in 1959. Of course, many people have seen the film in which Julie Andrews sings this charming tune during a thunderstorm to her young charges. Children are sure to love this song and may even prefer to sing it with you once they learn the lyrics. The images it conveys like "raindrops on roses" and "whiskers on kittens" have been delighting children for decades.
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is an English nursery rhyme that was first printed in 1852, but it may be much older than its date suggests. The simple lyrics encourages your little one to row, row, their boat out to sea—but merrily for life is “but a dream.” If baby still doesn't settle, you might encourage them to pretend to row; it might just tire them out!
“Little Boy Blue” is an English nursery rhyme that likely dates to the time of the Tudors. In fact, it's possible that Elizabeth I's nurse recited the rhyme to her when she was young. Little Boy Blue can be sung or spoken as you prefer. The short rhyme tells a sweet tale about a little boy who has sheep to tend but is sound asleep instead. Hopefully, your baby will fall fast asleep just like the little shepherd.
“Golden Slumbers” is an English song that was written by poet Thomas Dekker in 1603. Of course, many people know the Beatles' version of the tune that appears on their Abby Road album. The gentle lyrics underscore this tune’s timeless appeal. Your baby might very well enjoy the Beatles’ version of “Golden Slumbers,” but even when sung in your voice, it’s sure to add a touch of sweetness to bedtime.
“Are You Sleeping” is a lullaby with French origins. In fact, many English-speaking youngsters learn the French version in school. Also known as “Frere Jacques,” this lullaby possibly dates to the 17th century. Like many old songs, its origin has become obscure. Its earliest printed version dates to 1780. If you look for compilations of lullabies and children’s songs, you’re likely to find this classic among them.
The classic children’s song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” features lyrics that are based on a 19th-century children’s poem by Jane Taylor. Many young children learn this simple tune in preschool, but many a parent desperate for sleep has tried to sing this song to comfort their crying child at bedtime. Should you choose to play an instrument to accompany the lyrics, “Twinkle Twinkle” is usually played in C major. There are also hand motions to this tune that young children may enjoy learning.
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