7 Benefits of Singing Lullabies to Your Baby
There’s something about lying awake in the dark of night attempting to calm your crying baby. Soothing sounds naturally find a way through the grogginess, sounds like “sshh” or “hmm”. A tender lullaby, soft as a whisper, often works wonders for infants. But which lullaby should you sing to your little one? Do lullabies really help babies quiet down? Why do it at all?
Why Sing a Lullaby?
Surprisingly, quieting a fussy little one is not the only reason we sing lullabies and/or nursery rhymes to our babies. There are plenty of reasons why new parents might sing to their baby.
- Teach children facts, local customs, and traditions.
- Are a therapeutic way for parents to convey feeling and the hope of a happy future for their child. Many lullaby lyrics contain well-wishes for baby (including not crying!).
- Provide language that is simple, often rhyming, which helps baby learn and recognize words and their sounds as well as basic melodies.
- Offer an opportunity to bond with mother or father.
- Give older infants something to think about; stimulating lyrics can nourish imagination.
- Convey feeling. Babies feel the emotion in the singing of a lullaby, especially while being cuddled closely to someone who loves them.
- Soothe and calm. Babies respond to the human voice, so it’s easy to see why a crying child can often be soothed by a soft tune. A fussy baby may stop crying to listen to mother’s (or another familiar family member’s) voice sing the slow, repetitive lyrics and melodies lullabies are comprised of.
A Fascinatingly Dark History
Whatever the reason, parents from all around the world today and anciently have sung to their babes. Less-modern lullabies have a dark or violent message – a warning to baby sung from mother’s lips – that if he doesn’t quiet down, terrible events could take place. For example, think of Rock-a-Bye Baby dropping from the tree, or families “falling down” from the Plague of 1665 in Ring Around the Rosie. London Bridge is Falling Down references the destruction of the London Bridge by Vikings in the early 1000s. Several nursery rhymes – Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, Jack and Jill, Three Blind Mice, Rock-a-Bye Baby, and Old Mother Hubbard, to name a few – all derive from the unpopular decisions of twisted monarchs of England and France.
How soothing could these messages really be? They’ve been recited for so many years that it must not be too disturbing; either that, or many people just don’t realize what their true meanings are. In contrast, modern-day lullabies and nursery rhymes are a bit different in tone and intent than those of earlier days. Aiming to convey happiness and love, lullabies such as You Are My Sunshine and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star prove that we’ve come a long way in creating children’s rhymes and lullabies.
Now it’s your turn! We’d love to hear the reasons you sing. Share with us in the comments below!