A Lullaby That Actually Works

Which lullabies do you sing to your child? We recently started singing one that works like magic…

When Toby was a newborn, I would sing The Beatles’ I Will, which always made me weepy. The lyrics are really sweet when you imagine them coming from a mother to her child. Another favorite of ours has been Edelweiss. By the way, did you know the song is not actually an Austrian folk song? Instead Rodgers & Hammerstein composed it solely for the Sound of Music.

But the song that Toby is most crazy about—and requests every single night—is a “Toby song.” My mom used to sing us similar songs to us thirty years ago. It goes like this…

1. Choose any basic melody, such as Twinkle Twinkle.
2. Then make up words every night to tell a story about your child’s day or week—say, how you had pizza for dinner, how you went on a plane, how Daddy played his guitar.
3. My mom would always end with the line, “Mommy loves Joanna, Sweet and kind and gentle, Mommy loves Joanna, Sweet as she can be.”

Thirty years later, I still clearly remember my mom singing these songs to us. I remember how soothing it was to hear someone sing about your life—showing how much they “get” you—and then hear how much they love you. We now sing these songs to Toby every night at bedtime, and the promise of a “Toby song” actually makes him WANT to get into bed.

The funny thing is, even though the songs are simple, they can teach you so much about your child. Toby will request topics that I never would have thought he’d care about, like a time when Alex took him to Uniqlo and Toby hid in the jackets. And even once I’m singing about an adventure we had, he’ll add funny details that I’m surprised he even noticed, like how my mom’s husband wore goggles into the swimming pool, or how we put onions in guacamole. You really get to know your child through these songs in ways I hadn’t expected, and it’s a lovely way to reminisce about the highlights of your day (or week, or month). Thanks again for the idea, Mom!

Here’s an example of a current favorite…

Toby, Daddy and Mommy
Walked with the stroller
To the restaurant
To meet Raj and Kaori

We sat down at the table
Looked at our menus
Toby chose oatmeal
With raisins and yummy nuts

Daddy got french fries
He let us eat some french fries
Raj and Kaori got sandwiches
And mommy got some soup

We talked and laughed with our friends
Raj and Kaori are our good friends
Then it was time to leave
So we said thank you to the waiter.

That’s it! :) Which lullabies do you sing to your child? I’d love to hear (and get more ideas)…

P.S. 25 genius parenting moments and and the funniest bedtime book.

  1. Craig says...

    My mother used to sing me & my brothers & sister Liverpool lullaby by cilla black. It’s one of the few memories I still have of my childhood

  2. Erin says...

    These pictures of Toby are sooo cute!

  3. Wow, sounds like a room full of wonderful moms.I think your ideas are great, and let me tell you why if I may. I am a 58 year old coal miner that loves fine music. My mother is 83 and fading, she sang lullaby’s to me from day one. One day as I was thinking about her this idea came into my head to write her a song. It is turning out to be a lullaby for mom from my beginnings to her endings and will end in the classic lullaby. I am going to get my choir in church to sing it with me next mother’s day as a tribute for the blessing of music she gave to me, so please keep singing those tender loving songs to your little ones. It will be a great blessing to you all some day.

  4. That’s the best! Such advisable. I had been babysitting for any friend another evening and among the women requested me to sing her an audio lesson and that i totally blanked. I could not think about a single song to sing
    personalize songs

  5. Whenever I put mine in the crib, I hold him in my arms and sing rock a bye baby and then pretend drop him down in the crib when it comes to that part of the song, he gets a kick out of it and putting him in the crib becomes a fun thing rather than a cry thing.

  6. This is a late addition to this discussion. I tried the personalized lullaby just as explained and my son (2) burst into sentimental tears over it. For the first month or so he wanted to hear it but then would cry too much listening to it (even though I was just simply singing about basic things he had done during the day — went outside, kicked some balls, went for a walk, stroked Pinky the cat, etc etc.). I slowly started not singing it, as he got so sad with it. Now I sing it now and then, upon request, and he still tears up a bit, but not as emotional as at first.

  7. My mom used to sing You’re A Grand Old Flag to us, haha! :P

  8. Yes, we Austrians wear only Dirndl and Lederhosn and we always sing strange Edelweiss-songs while we constantly eat Wiener Schnitzel.
    Just like you, Americans, while you are fat and cleaning your collection of guns at home, only watching TV and eating non-stop Burgers and Hot Dogs.

  9. i do the same thing.. make up words about the things we did and will do tomorrow.

  10. I love singing “I Will” to my littles. Actually, recently, within the first few minutes that my third baby was born, I sang it to her as she was crying in my arms and she calmed down and stopped crying. She was so used to hearing it through my belly as I sang it to our two year old every night for his bedtime…

  11. I thought that I am in love with seeing my son sleep because it’s my baby but seeing little Toby so sweet and cozy is just as touching. Our children are the best gifts, aren’t they?!

  12. Love this post and all the comments. Used to sing to my kids who are now 21, 19 and 17…our favorite was the old Irish song “Molly Malone” which in hindsight has to be one of the most depressing songs. “She died of a fever and nothing could save her and that was the end of sweet Molly Malone!” But they loved it.

  13. Julian (26 months) used to request the “baby” song which I made up on the spot and it just goes, “baby, baby, baby, baby, you’re my baby boyyyyy” and then after we visited cousins, one of whom was younger Julian wanted to modify the song to “the baby Isham song” but now his favorite is when his dad sings him “the adventure” song–kinda similar to yours. Everynight its a new adventure for Jules and his favorite bear. Most of the time they stop off at different relatives houses for snacks. It’s my favorite sound in the world to listen to my husband sing it to our son.

  14. When I was baby-sitting for my niece when she was a tiny baby I sang her all the lullabies I knew my sister sang to her and then I ran out! And she was still awake and looking at me expectantly! So I sang a few Fiona Apple songs slowed way down, which was fun. But the one that really did the trick was “Happy Just to Dance with You” by the Beatles, song softly and quietly.

  15. that is so sweet :-) i usually tell a story about the day to my older one and she likes that, but she also likes nickelback’s lullaby, which i obviously can’t sing….

  16. I gave this a try and my daughter loves it so much. She has started asking for it at naptime too! Thank you for sharing this lovely idea.

  17. I absolutely love this idea! Someday I’ll do this with my children. My mother always sang You are my sunshine, and my dad liked to sing me (exceptionally off-key) muskrat love by America. Music has such an impressive power when you’re young! And older too really

  18. My dad used to sing to me “You are my sunshine” while on bike rides – we also danced to a version of this song at my wedding. I now sing that and Baby Mine (from the saddest scene in Dumbo) to both my girls at bedtime when they need some soothing.

  19. I have such sweet memories of my mom and dad singing me to sleep with “The Bethany Song” and Edelweiss – among others :) I think it’s a wonderful tradition to start with your sweet boy.

  20. LOVE this so much and thoroughly pinching this idea.

  21. When I first brought my son home from the hospital, I was at my wit’s end; he wasn’t much a a sleeper. I started singing “American Pie” to him, for no other reason that it was the longest song I knew… It continuted on until he was three.

    Oh, let me tell you; hearing his little voice sing “Feburary made me shivvvver,” is adorable. It would amaze everyone when he would sing it, but really, when you listen to the same song, three times a day for three years, you’re bound to pick it up.

    Oh, how I miss it sometimes. :)

  22. my husband makes fun of me for sneaking into our little girl’s room to take pictures of her while she’s sleeping. glad to see someone else does that from time to time, too. they’re such cherubs when they’re sleeping!

  23. Love this. I sing “hush little baby” every night. My hubby sings “Eight days a week” by the Beatles. Once it came on the ipod and we all sang it, and our baby looked so surprised that someone else knew Daddy’s song!

  24. these are so sweet to hear. i love that moonshadow still calms you down, margaret :)

  25. My go to lullabies are: Tender Shepherd from Peter Pan and Doora Loora Loora – an Irish lullaby my mom used to sing.

  26. I actually do the same.
    I have a two year old who started to ask for changes in the lyrics to the lullabies I was singing to him. Wich naturally evolved to songs about him :) and we now do this every night. And call them Úlfur songs.
    Love your blog :)

  27. What a sweet post. My mother also sang “You are my Sunshine” so we sing that one a lot. Now we do more of a special story created just for him at night. It gets challenging to come up with new and creative story lines but it always begins with “Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Max.”

  28. My dad used to play “you are my sunshine” on the guitar when I was little, so when he sang it to my newborn daughter in the hospital I was a blubbery mess! I sang it to her every night, and as she got older she would request it as “my shunna way” (please don’t take my sun”shunna way”) :) Now she’s almost 6 and we still sing it, but my heart broke a little the first time she requested it correctly. Love to read about all your little traditions with Toby, he is a doll!

  29. My husband and I are not huge reggae fans but “three little birds” by Bob Marley always puts Ev to sleep or my husband plays Iron & Wine, which is what I had playing during my labor with her.

  30. My mom always sang “Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens to us every night or any time we needed to relax and calm down. Now, my sister (and all of us) sing it to my niece and nephews to soothe them when they are upset or help them fall asleep. My 4 year old nephew begs to watch the Moonshadow video on my iPhone whenever I am around.

    To this day, when I am stressed, I listen to “Moonshadow” and it helps me calm down and refocus…even at 23 years old.

  31. My never-fail lullabye is “Didn’t Leave Nothing But the Baby” (used in Oh Brother Where Art Thou). It *always* calms my four month old.

    The other one I sing is “Make you feel my love.” That one tends to work 75% of the time. Isn’t funny how when you have a baby all those sappy love songs suddenly become about the love of a parent for a child?

    I can’t’ wait to try this choose-your-own-adventure approach when she’s a little older!

  32. and I thought I was the only one signing my son’s day in a lullaby! :)

  33. Thanks for sharing your personalized lullaby for Toby! I love it. We do something similar, but we say goodnight to all of the friends that we saw that day… for example (sing to any beat that works for you)…

    Goodnight Grandma
    Goodnight Papa
    Goodnight Uncle Bryan
    We’ll see you all tomorrow.

    Goodnight Sylvia
    Goodnight Sean
    Goodnight Jack
    We’ll see you all tomorrow.

    And on, and on it goes :)

    So simple, but our daughter adores it. It’s the most requested song in our repertoire. She also loves “Leaving on a Jetplane” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow”.

  34. I’ve been singing this Carly Simon lullaby to my daughter since day one! I changed it to her name and when it says “born a day ago” I change it to her age, which is now 9 and she still loves it!!! About 2 years ago she said “why are you singing to me that I threw a glass?!?!”….poor thing thought it was threw, not through, for years!!! Thanks for your tip! I love it!

    Julie through the glass
    Lookin’ up at me
    You’ve just got to be
    The sweetest thing I’ve ever seen
    Julie through the glass

    Just born a day ago

    And who knows where you’ve been

    And where you’re gonna go

    We want you to love the world

    To know it well and play a part

    And we’ll help you to learn to love yourself

    ‘Cause that’s where loving really starts

    Julie through the glass

    I’m looking forward to

    Doing things with you

    For many years to come

    • “threw the glass” is cracking me up right now! hah!

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. We listen to and sing “Murder in the City” by The Avett Brothers (slightly morbid but it has the best lyric ever– “Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name”), “Cricket” by Dance Hall Crashers, “Wagon Wheel” by OCMS, and “Goodnight” by the Rembrandts every night. And then I sing him a lullaby to a made up tune with words from a book– I’ll See You in the Morning.

  36. My son, Oliver, who is two months old tomorrow, loves the song, Where Is Love? from the movie Oliver. I’ve been singing it to him since he was in my belly. I also sing, I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon, from Sesame Street. Yesterday we just started listening to Peter, Paul and Mary, which were my lullabies as a child. He loved them.

  37. I’ve been singing my little man Paul Simon’s “St. Judy’s Comet” since he was still in my belly…just rewrote the line about a famous daddy :) Also love a little song we made up just for him when he was a few days old, and “What a Wonderful World” (especially since it has the line: I hear babies cry – I watch them grow – they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know).

    But as he gets older, I’ve been more inclined to do something like this, an “Ivan’s Song”. I think he’ll love it!

    I’m so moved by reading this post and all the comments. We all have so much love for our sweet children!

  38. i’ve always sung the beatles “i will” as well. but i love this idea as atticus gets older:)

  39. my dad is the best at putting my one year old down for a nap. he lays my son on his tummy and makes up a little narrative, typically about “kitties playing at the park”. he speaks really softly and rubs his back saying things like, “the kitty went up the tall ladder (and walks his fingers up baby’s back) and down the swirvy slide (and slides his fingers down), then he jumped over the bridge to the other kitty…” i swear, all it takes is 5 minutes of this tops and my son is snoozing! i’ve tried it with him but it doesn’t seem to work as well as when my dad does it!

  40. I love this – I actually do this already to the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful Life” because I can never remember the words. I’m excited to keep this up! xo

  41. Some of my favorite early childhood memories are of singing with my parents at bedtime. My name (Stella) means star, so my favorite was a song called “I am Like a Star” that is a favorite of our church congregation. It’s words are really sweet and simple: “I am like a star shining brightly, smiling for the whole world to see. I can do and say happy things each day, for I know Heavenly Father loves me.”

  42. I don’t have a particular one, i just sing what comes to my mind right then and there, sometimes heavily making it all up. but it works – i think it is the voice that is more soothing then anything, and the fact that love shines through it :)

    on the other note – did i miss a post about you finding out the gender of a baby? i know you wanted to be surprised, but then i thought that you posted something about going to an ultrasound and being able to find out? am i wrong?

  43. It really is surprising me how many people sing Edelweiss! We sing Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra.

  44. Aw, this made me so nostalgic for when my boys were little! One of our favorite’s was Edelweiss as well! The personal ones that I made up for each of the boys are now memories, I wish I had written them down or made a recording. Now my “baby” is 16 and the handmade cherrywood rocking chair is in storage!

    Sweet memories – love!

  45. say it’s only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea, but it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me.

    also, que sera, sera. whatever will be, will be. the future’s not ours to see, sue sera, sera.

    i also use to sing (my daughters are 12 and 14 now) tennessee walz, secret love, and you don’t know me (ray charles). but i know paper moon was the favorite because my oldest wrote a poem about me singing it to her last year.

  46. My son loves it when I sing “Blackbird” by the Beatles! He requests it all the time. “Birds? Birds?”
    Sometimes in addition to the traditional lullaby songs, I also sing him “Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields.

  47. I sing every night to my three kids (ages 9,7 and 5). My set list includes:

    Let Me Call You Sweetheart
    You are My Sunshine
    When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
    Liverpool Lou
    Danny Boy (substitute “Johnny”)
    From the movie “Hans Christian Anderson”:
    Anywhere I Wander
    Ugly Duckling
    Any Disney Princess song

    My son has autism and he connects with music. He can hear a song once and remember all the lyrics, so this has been a special connection for both of us.

  48. L. says...

    I was part of a choir in High School and we learned songs from all over the world. There is one I always loved to sing.
    N’Kosi Sikeleli. When I became an aunt I started singing it for my nephew. It is a very nice melody and I always thought it was powerfull. And only now looking for it on YT I discover that it is South African Anthem…It makes me very proud of my high school and the education I received.

  49. That’s such a lovely idea. I will definitely try and make things up for little ones in the future. My father used to sing to me every night- he used to work long hours, so it was our only bit of quality time with him except for the weekend. It made it extra special that he would rush home to sing and do story time. His favourite songs were a bit unusual! One funny one and one sleepy one. Both must be sung in a Mockney accent.

    “A mother was washing her baby one night
    The youngest of ten, and a scrawny wee mite
    The mother turned round for her soap off the rack
    She was gone but a moment, but WHEN SHE TURNED BACK
    The baby was gone, and the mother she cried
    “Oh where has my baby gone?”
    The angels replied….
    Your baby has gone down the plug’ole
    Your baby has gone down the plug
    The poor little thing was so skinny and thin
    He ought’a been bathed in a jug
    Your baby is perfectly happy
    He aint got no troubles no more
    He’s a larkin about with the angels above
    Not lost, but gone before”

    It’s dark, but we all LOVED it as kids. It has such a great rhythm and opportunity to be silly and dramatic. The soft one goes

    “Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry
    Spread a little happiness as you go by”

    That one stays with me every day, lessons for life at toddler bedtime!

  50. The Beatles have made som many songs that are perfect lullabies. I used to sing Here There and Everywhere to my daughter. Also, another song from the Sound of Music, My Favorite Things, but sung really slow and soft. I always gently tapped my fingers over my son’s eyes and nose as I sang Snowflakes that fall on my eyes and eyelashes. If I forgot, I had to sing it all over again. God I miss singing to them, miss them being little..

  51. wish you were here (pink floyd) :) works on my friends’ babies, i’ll know if it works with mine in 4 months :)

  52. i sing lots of songs to baby girl. some are old and some are made up, but my favorite beatles song to sing to her is “8 days a week”

  53. up to I saw the check saying $6260, I didn’t believe …that…my mom in-law could truley making money in there spare time on their computer.. there neighbour started doing this for less than twenty one months and a short time ago paid for the mortgage on there home and purchased Saab 99 Turbo. this is where I went,………. BIT40.COM

  54. That’s so cute. I’ve been singing “Carolina on my Mind” by James Taylor. Who really should be the one singing it. Mine is obviously a “version” and I use that word loosely. :) At 8 months, he seems to hear it and relax and know it means sleep. We’ll see how long it lasts. ;)

  55. Lullabye, and good night,
    go to sleep my sweet baby (sometimes insert name here)
    Close your eyes, say night night.
    Go to sleep my sweet girl.

    Mommy loves you so much.
    Yes, I love my sweet girl.
    Daddy. loves you so much.
    Yes, he loves his sweet girl.

  56. This is so sweet. When I was little my dad would sing me Brown Eyed Girl. I love looking back on those memories. I’m sure Toby will appreciate these, as you have, when he’s grown up.

  57. Great idea. I’m going to try it. I’ve been singing Tura lura lura and a few others. Last night I burst out laughing because about mid-song my wiggly worm started belting out her own version of the song. I tried not to crack but I broke down and laughed because it feels like she’s doing it just to say “this is never gonna put me to sleep, mom.” I love it when my 18 month old sings, though and this lullaby works very well at times and other times just gets her to settle a bit more than she was.

  58. Wagon Wheel by OCMS and Girl Downtown by Hayes Carll. not traditional but my kiddos love em.

  59. When my nephew was born, we thought we discovered the ultimate lullaby: Dean Martin’s “Houston.” We would sing it to him and he would immediately calm down. Expecting that it would be just as effective with my niece when she was born, but were surprised that she was unphased by it. Instead, her magic melodies were any songs by 50 cent.

    Kids are weird and awesome :)

  60. I also sang I Will to my 2 year old every night and now I started singing it with my 2 month old. I also sing When you Come back Down by Nickel Creek and Godspeed by the Dixi Chicks. It’s a great little boy lullaby, my favorite line being, “goodnight Mommy and matchbox cars” . I love your mom’s song and think my 2 year old will love love it!

  61. I also sang I Will to my 2 year old every night and now I started singing it with my 2 month old. I also sing When you Come back Down by Nickel Creek and Godspeed by the Dixi Chicks. It’s a great little boy lullaby, my favorite line being, “goodnight Mommy and matchbox cars” . I love your mom’s song and think my 2 year old will love love it!

  62. I don’t have any children, but when I was little, my father used to sing Surfer Girl by the Beach Boys to me and Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison every night. It’s still one of my favorite songs, and I think music has such a strong tie to memory that there is something so soothing about hearing a familiar song every night.

  63. I have a little Billy Joel obsession so I sing Lullabye (Goodnight my angel) and And So it Goes. I also remember reading somewhere that babies are comforted by the songs you listened to while pregnant so he also loves when I sing Florence + the Machine!

  64. What a great song idea.

    My dad always sang us “King of the Road” which we called “Trailers for Sailor Rent!” Ha. I now sing it to my 19-month-old son, as well as “Devil Town” by Daniel Johnston and some regular lullaby standbys. My husband sings Wilco’s “Reservations,” and my son asks for it all the time. He says, “Ill-co! Ill-co! Song! Song!” It’s pretty cute, in a hipstery way. :)

  65. Ever since Iain was born (he’s 7 now), I sing two hymns that I love (even though I’m not religious, I remember them from going to church with my grandmother so they are precious to me): Amazing Grace and Softly and Tenderly. I love that when he grows up, he will always remember this and anytime he hears them, he will remember how much I loved him.
    P.S. How do you not eat Toby’s sweet little cheeks right off his face?!? :)

  66. also the last part of surrey with the fringe on top (from oklahoma) is a really sweet lullaby for my son. Easy tune.

  67. also the last part of surrey with the fringe on top (from oklahoma) is a really sweet lullaby for my son. Easy tune.

  68. We always sing our daughter the folk song Hobo’s Lullaby. A family friend used to always sing it as the last song around the campfire when I was growing up and I loved it. We also sing Baby Beluga but we just sing it quietly and slow down the tempo for bedtime.

  69. My mom had a “Vanessa song” for me too. I can still hear her voice in my head singing it to me.
    Such a sweet tradition to carry over.

  70. That’s such a beautiful idea, I love it!

    Whenever I used to babysit my nieces I’d end up singing old classics like Dream a Little Dream and I’ll be seeing you or a few musical tunes like On my Own from Les Miserables. No wonder they didn’t want to go to sleep, I was traumatising them with sad songs! Next time I’ll try your trick…

  71. I tend to do like you. Each of my kids has his own lullaby even if I don’t sing anymore for the big ones. But lately my little 2 years 1/2 girl wants me to sing… “gangnam style”. So I try to “lullaby” it, humming and singing with a soft voice. And she loves it ;-). Actually, I think that no matter what I sing, she mostly enjoys the time I spend with her. I spend long hours away from her during the day and she loves the sweet face to face.
    Thank you for your Monday Motherhood by the way !

  72. Joanna, you seem like a great mom. <3

  73. we love to sing Cooper Morningtown Ride – I used to sing it in kindergarten and then in primary school, makes me feel all cosy.
    Not sure if it works though – Cooper doesn’t seem to believe in sleeping!!

  74. This makes me smile! I sing Edelweiss at naptime. Then before bedtime, I start with the Thomas the Train theme song (“They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight, shunting trucks and hauling freight….”); Roll into a lullabye (“Lullabye and good night, you’re your mommy’s delight. Mommy’s right here, tonight dear. My darling, sleep tight.”)

    And then I finish with another Sound of Music classic, “Favorite Things!”

    But I love the Toby-song idea, so thank you.

  75. YES! Making up lullabies about your day is great.

    When my daughter was born, her brother (3yrs) loved the show “Heidi” and would sing the theme song in German but replace “Heidi” with her name. He did this whenever she cried and it still works like a charm when she’s cranky or tired.

    I also love to sing my kids “Taps” but we have a slightly altered version. I remember the counselors singing it every night at camp and it makes me feel at peace. Now the kids request it at bedtime.

  76. Either Edelweiss (from the Sound of Music) or Robin in the Rain.

  77. Love this post! We sing a version of Lullabye, like this:

    Lullabye and good night
    It is time to go night night
    Lullabye lullabye
    It is time to go night night

    Lay down your little sleepy head(s)
    Lay down (my kids’ names) in your cozy bed(s)
    Lullabye and good night
    It is time to go night night

  78. I’m a music therapist and you just described the 101 of music therapy with small children ;)
    So you’re a natural obviously! Keep that up, it really helps to connect and understand on so many levels.
    Toby is definitely lucky to have a mom like you :)

  79. My daughter’s “song” is Moon River. I trained her to fall asleep to a certain playlist from the time she would fall asleep nursing, and now she immediately reacts to her “bed time playlist” by becoming sleepy! I can just turn it on at nap time, bed time, or in the middle of the night, and it works like a charm! asleep within 5 minutes! It has songs like “such great heights” by Iron and wine, “I’ll be yr bird” by M. Ward, “let it be me” Ray LaMontagne, and “Can’t help falling in love” done by Ingrid Michaelson, among others :)

  80. This is the sweetest thing ever. :)

  81. “La la luuuu” by The Lady & The Tramp
    You will fall asleep listening to it!

  82. I love that Beatles song. Singing at bedtime is the best. My kids love it but we don’t do it each night. Maybe we should! Get that kid a pillow! I know those pillow pets are cute but I bet he’d love a bigger pillow. Once my kids were two and I was confident about the SIDS risk being nearly gone, I put a pillow in the bed.

  83. Billy Joel and the Dixie Chicks Lullaby and brahams but I put in my own words…not about our day but how i hope my son’s sleep goes and how he’ll wake up and have a good day

  84. Haha, does Toby sleep with two of the same pillow pet? How cute.

  85. well, I have a song my mom used to sing to me too! I asked for her to sing until I was 6.

    It’s a Brazilian song that she adapted for me. And she used to sing every night. I get really emotional just to remember because it makes me think, “well, my mom, who’s not a musician, made a song for me. And just for me.” It’s beautiful and I can remember fall asleep to it because I was a little bit grown when she stopped. She still knows the lyrics, which is awesome!

  86. Like Christina commented we do this with our dogs, make up words to a melody. It’s part of how we house trained them. We sang the “potty” song , music from an old Eddie Murphy song- goes as follows”My dog loves to potty all the time, potty all the time, potty all the tiiiiime”. Silly but so much fun. I have a soft spot for edelweiss since my dad sang it to me as I walked down the aisle- such a beautiful, beautiful song. What a fun and interesting post today.

  87. I used to have this fear of being kidnapped or separated from my mom when i was young. Or even given away (the book “the little princess” stuck with me) So i think part of it was fear of not being with her. she would sing “you are my sunshine” and at the end when it says “please don’t take my sunshine away” she’s throw in “because I’m going to keep her forever and ever”. To this day, I throw it in out of habit.

    My dad would play Jackson Browne records at night and I’d fall asleep every time. Never failed

  88. That’s too cute! I don’t sing lullabies to my kids anymore since they have outgrown that stage but I do remember when I did. My eldest used to get cranky when we used to take long trips so I would sing Dangerously in love by Beyonce and it would put her right to sleep. I used to listen to it a lot while I was pregnant with her so I believe she remembered. It made me smile every time.

  89. We sing a made up version of good night lady.

    Good Night Finna. Good Night Finna. Good Night Finna, it’s time to get some rest.

    Then we make it through all of the people/pets in the family until everyone has been said good night to.

  90. I used to sing Over the Rainbow every night to my boy. Now I sing mostly folk tunes…If I Had a Hammer and Stewball by Peter, Paul and Mary and Millworker by James Taylor. My husband sings him old blues tunes and The Banana Boat song. He’s 4 now and he sings along with us at bedtime…so sweet and fun.

  91. I think it’s so sweet you remember your mom singing to you. I make up words to non-lullaby songs as I go, but generally they are just goofy and aren’t focused on the day – great idea!

  92. This has probably been mentioned, but “Edelweiss” was mistakenly used by the Reagan administration to welcome an the emissary of Austria as they believed it to be their national anthem! Oops!

    My favourite songs to sing to my daughter:

    You can close your eyes – James Taylor
    Sweet Baby James (though I sing “sweet baby Charlotte”) – James Taylor
    House at Pooh Corner – Kenny Loggins
    (Although she mostly requests “Baa baa black sheep” much to my dismay!)

    And I’ll totally be making up a song for my daughter before bed tonight. What a sweet idea!

  93. This is so sweet. My parents never sang my brother or I lullabies to put us to sleep. I don’t remember bedtime stories, either. Your kids are so lucky.

  94. I love the idea of making up your own lullaby off-the-cuff – and I do that anyway to amuse myself and The Hubs! Good to know this natural talent will come in handy when a munchkin comes into the fold.

  95. I sing Edelweiss almost every night and also add a few other songs like Stand by Me or The sun will come out tomorrow. I do sing made up songs during the day but it never occurred to me to make a summary song of the day. Such a cute and fun idea! Thanks!

  96. We also used to make up our own lyrics, and sing our kids to sleep to the tune of “Hey Jude”, replacing “Jude” with our own children’s names… My husband is the one who started doing this, and I just followed his lead. He also made up a song for brushing teeth and they love that too!

  97. I have never heard of either of these songs – will look them up! My son is content with the original Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but we do say “Our favorite part of the day” after the blessing at dinner and I like to hear what he will say! My daughter just likes to be sung Disney songs.

  98. I walked down the aisle to Alison Krauss’s version of “I Will”- I now cry every time I hear it. Coincidentally, I sing another one of her songs to my nephew that puts him out like a light- “Go to Sleep You Little Baby”. The lyrics are kind of messed up at some points, but the rhythm and repetition knock him out. I sing “Baby Mine” to my preggo belly. Can’t wait to meet little nugget.

  99. I really adore this idea! So sweet. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be doing this for my little guy.

  100. I also sing “I Will,” and consider it my song to my children. My daughter’s favorite is the folk song “Down in the Valley,” which my grandma sang to me.

  101. Edelweiss has always been a favorite of ours too! My youngest (#3) is 2 yrs old and can sing it all (it’s darling to listen to her), so I’m bummed that it’s not a real Austrian folk song. :( I always put my kids’ names into the last line: “…bless my Cora forever.” or “…bless my Celia forever.” They love that!

  102. it’s a really great idea having a personal song, but what surprised me the most is that I remember perfectly my mom singing my baby brother Edelweiss to sleep, and that was like 25 years ago in Argentina!

  103. I love this idea! At our house it’s Somewhere over the Rainbow, You are my Sunshine, Rainbow Connection, and Baby Mine (from Dumbo). My husband can never remember the words to any lullabies, so he makes up his own lyrics. This is right up his alley! :)

  104. Is that a two pillow pet dogs I see in the bed ?

    My sister had 3 times the same doll… she lost one, it was replaced with the backup, mom got a second backup, the first one was found a few weeks later and the new backup spotted in the closet, result: 3 identical dolls all in the same bed !

    Maybe you’ve had the same kind of adventure with Toby

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  106. This is truly adorable. I sang to my kids, 20+ years ago, but this might have been better even than Mon Petit Enfant, and Hush Little Baby.

  107. Since he was born , even in the hospital, I started to sing Auld Land Syne to my now 9 month old.
    (..and No he wasnt born on/around new years. And I am not Gaeilic…)
    but i learned the translation some years ago and thought the lyrics are brilliant.
    My husband thinks its a wee bit depressing…but its our thing. My son plays with my ears and falls alseep to me humming this song

    Whats more i found a great version on youtube here :

  108. My mom wrote each of her eight children a lullaby when we were born. I now sing the song she wrote for me to my two year old son. He also loves “Jesus Loves Me” and “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole.

  109. Oh, and if you want an emotional song, try Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkle. The lyrics get me weepy every time I sing them to my baby.

  110. I don’t have kids yet, but I teach English to German kindergartners, and occasionally I get one who’s fussy and hasn’t had her nap. I usually end up singing “Norwegian Wood”, because it’s slow and soothing. This sends my colleagues into gales of laughter, but whatever. :-)

  111. Great idea!! My 17 month old sons lullaby is The Way you Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra. The night he was born I lookeddown at him and it was the only song I could think of. As I sang it to him that first time I realized that the lyrics perfectly described what I was feeling –

    Some day, when I’m awfully low,
    When the world is cold,
    I will feel a glow just thinking of you
    And the way you look tonight.

    Yes you’re lovely, with your smile so warm
    And your cheeks so soft,
    There is nothing for me but to love you,
    And the way you look tonight.

    With each word your tenderness grows,
    Tearing my fear apart
    And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,
    It touches my foolish heart.

    Lovely, never, ever change.
    Keep that breathless charm.
    Won’t you please arrange it ?
    Cause I love you, just the way you look tonight.

    I now sing it to him every night and for every nap. I totally love the idea of singing him a song about his day. He’s just getting to the age where I think he would love it. Thanks for the great idea!

    • I sang The Way You Look Tonight to my 5-yr old while he was in the womb and then most nights on until he was about 4 and now we do bedtime stories and cuddles and chats! Your the first other person I’ve heard of who sings this song to their child!

    • My friend’s dad sang that song at her wedding, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

  112. How funny, I always sing Lucas songs of what we are doing like putting on socks or going to bed to Frere Jacques!

  113. i sing silent night to my joony almost every night! i learned all three verses so it would last long enough for him to fall asleep. even though it’s a christmas song, it’s still sweet to sing all year. i LOVE the ones you suggested. i forgot how much i love edelweiss.

  114. I sing a song called “Today,” a former camp song that John Denver covered, before every nap and bedtime. It gets a little repetitive, but my 13-month-old daughter immediately buries her head in my shoulder when I start and knows it’s time to sleep. It’s the sweetest part of my day :)

  115. I make up words to Pie Jesu- subbing Char-lies slee-py, and on and on, he likes hearing his name

    Love this idea and love the sweet pictures of little Toby

  116. Not to be a downer, but posts like this make me realize that my parents were not the greatest parents. My mom had 4 kids and didn’t take a specific interest in each of us (she’d ask “how was your day?” then stop there). We did get sung to at bedtime, and they gave us financial if not emotional support. Meanwhile I had a boyfriend with 7 siblings whose mom could connect with each of them (and their friends!) instantly and deeply (…but was an alcoholic, so nothing’s perfect). I hope that the parents and parents-to-be reading this blog really take to heart this advice to really try to connect with each of your kids.

  117. There is a song in the BBCs’ Ceebeebies program that I used to get all teary eyed singing with my niece whenever I visited. And then when I fell pregnant, my husband and I would sing it to my belly every night before bed. Now whenever we sing it to our baby girl, it seems to settle her instantly (and me too!).

    The time has come to say goodnight, to say sleep tight till the morning light, the time has come to say goodnight its the end of a lovely day. We’ve had so much fun today, tomorrow’s just a dream away….and now its time to say goodnight at the end of a lovely day.

  118. dc says...

    Shenandoah is a beautiful calming song.
    Oh, Shenandoah,
    I long to see you,
    Away you rolling river.
    Oh Shenandoah,
    I long to see you,
    Away, I’m bound away,
    ‘cross the wide Missouri.
    Oh Shenandoah,
    I love your daughter,
    Away, you rolling river.
    For her I’d cross,
    Your roaming waters,
    Away, I’m bound away,
    ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
    ‘Tis seven years,
    since last I’ve seen you,
    And hear your rolling river.
    ‘Tis seven years,
    since last I’ve seen you,
    Away, we’re bound away,
    Across the wide Missouri.
    Oh Shenandoah,
    I long to see you,
    And hear your rolling river.
    Oh Shenandoah,
    I long to see you,
    Away, we’re bound away,
    Across the wide Missouri.

  119. I love this idea, Joanna! The nice thing is that it helps him remember his life, too. I read somewhere that if you remind your children and talk with them about recent events, they remember it better and might keep the memories with them throughout life. It helps mom, too! Sometimes I have to think really hard about what we did during the day LOL It’s a serious brain exercise when you have toddlers!

  120. This is really sweet! I used to sing “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon to my first (adopted) son, which he LOVED, because I substituted “Sean” with my son’s name.
    My second child I’m raising with my native language, which is Russian, so I sing to him the traditional Russian lullabies, and the one that can calm him down in any situation is a repetitive little thing which has a ton of verses, including some about birds sitting in various trees (birch and elm) and telling him not to cry, and also about how our cat has a golden this or that but my son’s are much better. For example, “Our cat has a golden rattle, but Dima’s is much better” and so on. It takes a lot longer than this to sing it in Russian ^_^
    The good thing about this lullaby is that the melody is very simple and sweet, and the verses are easily adapted to whatever, so you can sing it with absolutely no brains left. The part about the cat can have as many verses as you want, as long as the words you use for what the cat has are 2-syllabic. When I run out of those, I start subbing “cat” for other animals, and the things they have become goofier.
    And although now we’ve mostly graduated to lullabies from Russian cartoons (there are a lot of really sweet ones, and my son loves a variety), when in tough situations, I always go back to that first lullaby, and even when he’s feverish or hurt, he calms down pretty much instantly.

  121. We usually sing “Sleep Baby Sleep, your father tends the sheep”. Our daughter was addicted to it till she was a year old.

  122. I always sing the Barocha, which we sing to babies who are baptized at church. As soon as I start singing, my son (who just turned one) will put his head on my shoulder. If my husband is home, he will put his arms around us and we will all sway and sing together. I love our little ritual. I love the Toby song, too!

    “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make the sun shine upon you, and give you peace, and give you peace, and give you peace forever.

    The Lord be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you, and give you peace, and give you peace, and give you peace forever.”

  123. My baby boy was just born in late December and when I was pregnant I started singing Beautiful Boy by John Lennon to him. I had it playing in the delivery room when he was born and now it’s sort of become his song. I also hum Peace Train by Cat Stevens which I find uplifting and peaceful as well.

  124. Oh thats such a sweet idea. I love that.
    My little guy is still pretty young, but he always seems to calm down when we sing him “Tonight you belong to me” from “The Jerk”:P Its such a pretty song and my hubby and just love singing it together.

  125. Such a nice idea. usually we sing Twinkle Twinkle, but sometimes also a lullaby I made up which goes:
    hush now baby, don’t you cry,
    all the stars are in the sky;
    hush now baby don’t you weep,
    because the sun has gone to sleep;
    hush now baby don’t you cry,
    I’ll sing you a lullaby;
    hush now baby don’t you weep;
    because it’s time to go to sleep…

  126. Awesome advice!
    Although I’m not a Mama, I do sing to the Boy I Nanny for every day at naptime- this will be perfect!

    Manda at Eat Cake

  127. My husband’s parents split up when he was young, and he lived with his mom who would sing to him nightly. At one point when visiting his father he requested a bed-time song – but his father (a theologian) could only think of the Doxology!

    I love this story, and the Doxology is probably a pretty good lullaby.

  128. I always sing Tender Shepard from the Mary Martin Peter Pan musical to the little girl I nanny for. (“Tender Shepard, tender shepard, let me help you count your sheep. One in the meadow, two in the garden, three in the nursery fast asleep.”)

    She’s six now and I’ve babysat her since she was three. She loves it and requests it whenever I put her to bed. We take turn singing the verses.

  129. how sweet.

  130. “Keep you Safe” by JJ Heller is one of our favorites. Especially after a bad dream. The lyrics are precious, soothing, and provide such security. :)


  131. My daughter doesn’t often let us sing lullabies to her, but one thing she insists upon is that we “talk about our day”. This started when she was very young while I would breastfeed her before bed. I would talk about our day, as much for me as a way to connect with this tiny child. She loves it so much, and also brings up things I would never think about!

  132. I usually sing to him a song which was originally a poem written in the 1800’s.

    “The days are cold the nights are long,
    The north wind sings a doleful song,
    Now hush again upon my breast,
    All merry things are now at rest,
    Save thee, my little one.”

    Sometimes I’ll change up the tempo.

  133. I love this! I am going to try it tonight when I rock Brycen to sleep. I often play or sing the “Phonics Song 2” from youtube and he goes into a quiet trance – maybe because I have played it since he was a newborn? I don’t know why, but he is amazed by it, even when I or his father attempt to sing it.

  134. That is the sweetest! Such a good idea. I was babysitting for a friend the other night and one of the girls asked me to sing her a song and I totally blanked. I couldn’t think of one single song to sing.

  135. I sing Edelweiss to the baby I nanny for, too! Sound of Music is my favorite movie of all time, and I had no idea about that song being made for it!!

    Going along with the Julie Andrews theme, my absolute favorite lullaby is the song “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins! I always sing it or hum it to the little guy, or if my voice is particularly squeaky, I let Julie’s beautiful voice sing it through Youtube! :)

  136. this is absolutely adorable! my husband and i put our little girls’ name into basically any song we are singing, throughout the entire day, even if we are by ourselves :) but for bedtime i sing her quiet, sleepy songs in portuguese. they are the only things that will make her fall asleep. i can’t wait till she is a little older and can participate like toby! he sounds so sweet <3

  137. When I pregnant with my first child, truly the only thing I worried about in advance is what sort of lullaby I would sing to her! I tend to not worry about things that other people do, and worry about things no one else worries about.
    “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, but the beautiful remixed version by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (lots of versions of that are on youtube if you want to give a listen/look) was a favorite of mine and of my kids.
    And “There Are Places I Remember by the Beatles,” but slow and lilting, is still requested by all 3 of my kids from time to time. And they’re 7, 9 and 10. The words and melody are perfect.


  138. What a great idea! My husband and I both have terrible voices (we even used to lip sync in church when we started dating because we were so embarrassed!)… but I’m looking forward to singing to my baby.

  139. I do the same!! I started doing this with a nephew. Now I do it with my daughters. Now, I don’t sing to my oldest daughter but I tell her quickly all the nice things we did during the day. I say good night and then I ask if she remembers how we had eggs for breakfast and then a book page got torn when we were reading but she helped me fix it. How she hug dad when he came back from work and her sister fell but she laughed instead of crying, etc She nods happy and she might add some more details.

  140. My dad also used to sing The Beatles’ “I Will”. Another thing that my parents used to do in bed, before I fell asleep was let me ask them three questions. I always looked forward to that! My questions were probably so random, but I bet that they taught my parents about me in a similar way to your songs.

  141. How precious! The twinkle song sounds like a great idea, especially for an older child who can talk and remember specifics of the day. I’ve been singing “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” to my son ever since he was born. Every nap. Every night. But it’s amazing how he knows it’s sleepy time when I do. He immediately starts sucking his thumb and cuddles into my chest when I start singing. And best part, it works for when the grandparents or sitters put him down to sleep.

  142. That is such a lovely idea, I am a new mom to a 7 week old and am struggling to come up with new and different songs to sing to him to sleep. Great idea for something that will always be different.

  143. When I babysit, I sing this one over and over until they fall asleep. :)

  144. This is so sweet, Joanna! I can’t wait to do this when we have a baby. As for now, my husband and I sing silly personalized songs like this about our dog! :)

  145. I had NO idea Edelweiss was made just for the Sound of Music! All this time I was feeling cultured. I don’t have kids but the little girls that I nanny always request taylor swift songs. It’s the strangest thing but they always calm down, and we always end up talking about love, which is a sweet topic to discuss with little ones.

    • oh the sound of music is a funny thing actually – it never even airs in austria! I only saw it the first time i spent christmas abroad and everyone watching with me was puzzled i didn’t know it and couldn’t sing along ;) it is a lovely movie though – i love it!!!

    • I have never understood how Sound of Music is even remotely construed “a Christmas movie” although most of my friends say it is always on TV around Christmas time. I guess I never made the association because my family didn’t have cable for most of my childhood!