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November 07, 2016
GO TO SLEEP, go to sleep, I am in far too de-eep… Okay, start over on that one. Remembering the lyrics to bedtime songs can be quite the challenge. In the end, though, singing a baby lullaby is well worth the effort.
Once you understand the reasons for singing a baby lullaby at night, you will become the master of getting your little one to go to sleep – so you can, too.
When you think about it, having to sing someone to sleep sounds a little desperate. You’re throwing some lyrics into a soft melody and hoping it does the trick because nothing else seems to be working. Actually, the science behind it may surprise you, and could convince you to try singing more often.
Researchers played voice tracks of people talking or singing in two different languages to infants 7-10 months old. One of the languages was familiar, while the other was not. As the infants periodically became upset during the spoken recordings, researchers switched to singing in the same language. In both languages, the babies calmed quickly and stayed calm for minutes longer than the talking tracks.
While playing music for your baby is a great way to refine his or her musical sense, there are also many reasons why you should be the one doing the singing.
Experts argue that sound is a baby’s best-developed sense. As a result, music is a comforting reminder to them of the music they heard in the womb. Singing becomes a source of bonding for parent and baby, allowing the baby to learn from mom or dad in a playful or calming environment.
Using bedtime songs to help a baby transition to sleeping is extremely helpful in establishing routines that the baby can follow without being able to tell time. So, if your goal is to put on “Bohemian Rhapsody” during bedtime, turn down the volume and let your inner Freddie Mercury shine through.
Of course, not all babies love rocking out to Queen before bed, so you’ll need a few other options in your toolkit. Almost anything can qualify as a baby lullaby, but there are a handful of components that are necessary.
Repetition is key for infants and toddlers, as they need to learn something over and over again before they remember it instinctively. The best song options have a gentle melody with relatively short verses that can be repeated almost indefinitely. Look for songs like:
If these songs are not your cup of tea, just go for bedtime songs that have a fairly slow beat and some nice repetition. Surprisingly, Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” does a fine job, if you turn down the bass a little bit during the bridge.
You may be familiar with the concept that many nursery rhymes and lullabies have a checkered history. For example, Rock-a-Bye Baby tells a grim tale of a baby falling out of a tree. Some have related this lullaby’s political origin to England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688. If some of the antiquated lyrics bother you, or you can’t recall the original words of the song, feel free to make up your lyrics and let bedtime songs become part of your improv routine. If you keep your voice calm and soft, it won’t matter exactly what you say.
Your mattress is calling you, but first you have a task at hand: Sing your child to sleep so you can finally go to bed. You’ll also be helping your baby to grow and learn through the benefit of bedtime songs. If you do it right, you will be able to sing the Zs in no time.