What Are The Best Lullabies For Kids?

Fact-Checked

Written By: Matthew Whittle
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sherrie Neustein

 

Research suggests that a consistent bedtime routine improves children's sleep, even after just a few nights. These nightly routines might include taking a bath, singing songs, listening to music, or reading a book. When music is involved in a bedtime routine, parents often turn to lullabies. We discuss several standard lullabies that parents worldwide use today.

Do Lullabies Help Children Fall Asleep?

Researchers hypothesize that lullabies before bed can improve sleep. In a study of premature infants, lullaby music calmed babies, reducing their heart rates and slowing breathing. These effects may be the result of music reducing stress. This relaxation response seems to occur regardless of the infant's previous music-listening experiences, and even when the lullaby is in another language.

Parents have sung lullabies to their children for centuries, across nearly every culture, demonstrating the lullaby's effectiveness and staying power. Music can affect sleep at all ages. While we may outgrow lullabies at some point, it's helpful to develop healthy sleep habits at a young age, which may include using music to fall asleep. Research also shows that singing a lullaby can help establish a bond between parent and child.

How Do Lullabies Affect Sleep in Children?

Along with relaxing infants, the positive effects of lullabies may continue after the song ends. Classical music can also relax infants, but its benefits may end when the music stops, indicating that lullabies for kids are uniquely soothing.

Lullabies are especially useful as part of a nightly routine. Sleep is crucial for cognitive and emotional development, and a consistent bedtime routine promotes adequate sleep in children. While children of each age range require a different amount of sleep, parents can continue to use bedtime songs for their kids as they age as a part of a healthy bedtime routine.

Best Lullabies for Children

While establishing a routine is important, you and your children might tire of singing the same song every night. Fortunately, parents across the world sing a wide range of bedtime songs for their kids, creating a diverse library to draw from.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Enjoy the soft, gentle language of this lullaby and its peaceful, repetitive imagery of floating downstream.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

This lullaby, originally written as a nursery rhyme, was later set to the popular French tune we now know. Use the song's slowly ascending and descending melody to slowly lull your child to sleep each night.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are

Rock a Bye Baby

Though this lullaby for toddlers contains startling imagery, the song dates back to the 1800s, when it was adapted from a nursery rhyme into a lullaby.

Rock a bye baby,
On the tree top
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all.

Hush, Little Baby

This kids' lullaby song is another former nursery rhyme, adapted from a Mother Goose poem. It sees parents promising their children the world as they rock them to sleep.

Hush little baby, don't say a word,
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird
And if that mockingbird won't sing,
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring

Can I Create My Own Lullaby?

If you become tired of the standard lullabies, you can always create a new bedtime song for your kids. If you struggle to create something entirely new, put a twist on an existing lullaby by integrating your child's name and elements of their life to personalize it.

Sleep Tips for Kids

Lullabies aren't the only way to improve kids' sleep. Help your kids develop healthy sleep habits by implementing these sleep hygiene tips:

  • Keep electronic devices, like TVs, smartphones, and videogames, out of the bedroom
  • Have your child go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • Make sure the bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet, so sleep isn't disrupted

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