What Lullabies Do You Sing?

Toby and Anton

What lullabies do you sing? We have three…

A reader named Stacy recently commented:

“What songs do you sing to your kids? I hunted far and wide for the perfect lullaby to teach myself while I was pregnant — and that I wouldn’t get tired of after singing a million times. With the help of a friend, I found ‘Comfort‘ by Deb Talan, and it’s been lifesaving. I sang it no less than 12 times a day when my daughter was a newborn. Now, all I have to do is start singing and she becomes putty in my arms. It’s truly Pavlovian.”

The job of a good lullaby is to help “lull” a child to sleep. Ideally the song will be “interesting enough to capture a child’s attention, but not interesting enough to keep the child awake,” writes Rivka Galchen in the New York Times, which is perhaps why most lullabies are “confined to about five notes” and mimic a rocking rhythm. And they really work: Researchers found when premature babies were sung lullabies, they had lowered heart rates and improved sleep.

But even if the tune is soothing, some old-school lyrics are really freaky — like this Icelandic number:

Beeum, beeum, bambalow, Bambalow and dillidillidow.
My little friend I lull to rest.
But outside
A face looms at the window.

(What?! Terrifying! If you live in Iceland, have you ever heard that one?)

For our boys, I typically sing Edelweiss, You Are My Sunshine, or made-up songs about Toby and Anton’s days. And I also love regular songs that can double as lullabies — Anton often requests Leaving on a Jet Plane, and I’ve been singing I Will by The Beatles since Toby was a newborn. How sweet are the lyrics when you imagine them from a mother to a child?

I Will
The Beatles

Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to — I will.

For if I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart.

And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
You know I will
I will.

Separately, did you know that You Are My Sunshine is actually a devastating love song? Here are the full lyrics, if you’re curious.

What about you guys? Any favorite lullabies? I’d love to hear…

P.S. On being a touchstone, and six words to say to your child.

(Photo of Toby and Anton sharing a bed.)

  1. MBH says...

    Oh man these comments are making me tear up. I can’t even read the lyrics to Baby Mine without crying!

    For my 4 year old our exact current evening lineup is:
    –two rounds of ‘you are my sunshine’ – the second round replacing sunshine with his name
    –twinkle twinkle
    –alternating leaving on a jet plane and goodnight sweetheart
    –ending with a song i sang at campfires at my sleepaway camp as a kid

    every once in awhile we mix in bushel and a peck, these are a few of my favorite things (it’s what my mom sings to him)

    and it’s also making me sad my 8 yr old barely wants songs anymore :(

  2. liz says...

    You are my sunshine always made me cry as a child even before I heard all the lyrics. I knew it was a very sad story, I just knew it.
    On another sort of related note, how about singing in the car? Or after dinner? Some of my favorite memories are singing with family and friends.

  3. Sydney Ramirez says...

    Golden Slumbers by the Beatles.

    I also sang it to my mother as she lay in the hospital bed right before she died. It’s a very special song to me.

    Once there was a way,
    To get back homeward.
    Once there was a way
    To get back home.
    Sleep, pretty darling,
    Dot not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby.
    Golden slumbers,
    Fill your eyes
    Smiles await you when you rise
    Sleep pretty darling
    Do not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby.
    Once there was a way
    To get back homeward
    Once there was a way
    To get back home
    Sleep, pretty darling
    Do not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby.

    • Lindsay says...

      that is very special….perfect song for both the beginning and end of this journey here on earth. :)I am impressed as I can’t carry that tune well and it brings me to tears!

  4. Katherine says...

    We sing “Tinkle Tinkle” (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”), “Up” which is what my 2 1/2 year old calls “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” and not really a lullaby, but “Wheels on the Bus” is what signifies to him that we are DONE with bedtime routine and it is time to go in the crib and no more negotiating for one more song, glass of water, etc :)

    My stepmother gave my stepsister and me a great book or all these old fashioned nursery songs and I was struck but how dark and tragic most of them are! My child has no idea, but it freaks me out!

  5. Megan Ritter says...

    I have a handful of standbys, including “It ain’t me babe” (sung very slowly!), “This Little Light of Mine”, and oddly enough “Silent Night”, ha! I started singing it around Christmas (obviously) and my daughter loves it so much that we’ve kept it rotation. :-)

    • Taylor says...

      Haha! We sing Silent Night occasionally too :)

    • Laura says...

      Silent Night is on heavy rotation at our house too!

    • Jess says...

      Away in a Manger is in our year-round rotation at our house! :)

  6. Ramona says...

    I sing traditional Irish songs to my daughter because that’s what my Irish dad sang to me and so I know them all by heart. I like that they have lots of verses; I think she finds it restful to keep hearing different words to the same tune as she’s falling asleep. One of my favorite poetic lines is the last verse of “Eileen Aroon”:

    Youth will in time decay, Eileen Aroon
    Beauty must fade away, Eileen Aroon
    Castles are sacked in war, chieftains are scattered far
    Truth is a fixed star, Eileen Aroon

  7. Megan says...

    I sing Blackbird by the Beatles, Be Still by the Fray, Fools Rush in, Who made the Mountains by Whitney Houston, and strangely enough a song in Swahili from Mighty Joe Young which I watched all the time as a kid. We always teased my dad about his lullaby repertoire because it was so strange, Surfer Girl, Monster Mash, lots of Elvis. Haha, but now every time I hear those songs it takes me right back.

  8. Amy G says...

    I don’t know why, but I’ve always sung “Halley Came to Jackson” by Mary Chapin Carpenter to my kids. It’s just a calming song. My 3 year old daughter asks for the “19 or 10 song” (1910) :)

    Halley Came to Jackson

    Late one night when the wind was still
    Daddy brought the baby to the window sill
    To see a bit of heaven shoot across the sky
    The one and only time daddy saw it fly
    It came from the east just as bright as a torch
    The neighbors had a party on their porch
    Daddy rocked the baby, mother said amen
    When Halley came to visit in 1910
    Now, back then Jackson was a real small town
    And it’s not every night a comet comes around
    It was almost eighty years since its last time through
    So I bet your mother would have said amen too
    As its tail stretched out like a stardust streak
    The papers wrote about it every day for a week
    You wondered where it’s going and where it’s been
    When Halley came to Jackson in 1910
    Now daddy told the baby sleeping in his arms
    To dream a little dream of a comet’s charms
    And he made a little wish as she slept so sound
    In 1986 that wish came ’round
    It came from the east just as bright as a torch
    She saw it in the sky from her daddy’s porch
    As heavenly sent as it was back then
    When Halley came to Jackson in 1910
    And late one night when the wind was still

  9. Ellen says...

    On the same note as your comment about You Are My Sunshine- did you know Oh My Darling Clementine is about a little girl who drowns?? The father is so distraught he kills himself.

    ANYWAY! Dream a Little Dream (the Mama Cass version) and Hey Eugene by Pink Martini get sung along around here.

  10. Christine says...

    I speak Spanish to my son so he gets to hear the same lullabies I heard from my mom…but now when I hear them as an adult I realized they can be somewhat creepy/sad….

    -The one about Pinocchio being attacked then saved by a fairy
    -The one about the cat who everyone thinks died but then he’s revived with the smell of fish
    -The one about the doll who get sick but is saved by magic medicine..

    Sometimes I convert La Bamba and Oh Donna into lullabies – He loves that movie!

  11. Irina says...

    Hi from Spain!

    I tend to sing “grown up songs” to my two year old daughter since she was in my belly. She loves Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin) and Space Oddity (Bowie). Luthea Salom is also a good choice.

  12. marie says...

    I’ve been singing “I Will” as a lullaby since my oldest was born. It really is a sweet song. Since we always sing it together while we cuddle before bed, my kids now call it “The Snuggle Song.” :)

  13. emma says...

    Jesus Loves Me!

  14. HRT says...

    Our son is now 21 but he came to us as a foster child when he was nine months old. We didn’t remember many lullabies those first few weeks so we sang the Brady Bunch theme and slower versions of Ramones’ songs to him. When my mom put him to bed one night, she sang the same Croatian lullaby that she used to sing to me. I knew it was time to up my game.

  15. Julia says...

    A few months ago, my three year old asked for a bedtime story and I totally blanked. After a long pause, I told him the plot of Fresh Prince of Bel Air and he lost his mind! Since the , hes gotten hooked on stories about “Will from Thilla-delphia.” I totally rocked his world by singing him the theme song as a lullaby. I sing it like a slow ballad and he eats it up. One of those silly things I know I’ll remember in twenty years (and one of a thousand reasons I’m thankful my life isn’t a reality show!)

    • Erin says...

      Mom goals!!! You’re amazing

  16. I couldn’t love this post any more, Joanna. I I hope I’m not doubling up, but only read through 400-some-odd comments (!). In the beginning, we sang Vered’s awesome for the tone-deaf “Sleep” every night. We also sang it in the car, to instant result of calming the whole family (though I’d often cry myself to exahusted sleep singing it too):

    Charlotte would be dismayed when babysitters and relatives didn’t know the “sleep song,” so we learned to never leave her with any one without a quick run through.

    Now, three-plus years later, I sing The Eurythmics’ “Brand New Day” to her every night. Again, it’s something I can sing well enough. Only 40% of the song is “relationship appropriate” but we love it. It’s additionally amusing because she walks the streets of Brooklyn beside me in the daytime singing:

    Six o’clock in the morning
    And I’m stepping through the streets
    The pavement’s cold and empty
    Got the blues beneath my feet.
    Big old sun is rising up
    So elegant and thin
    Another day is over
    So a new day will begin
    And the word said hey…
    It’s a brand new day

    Oh baby baby baby
    I dreamed about you
    Please tell me tell me tell me
    What I’ve seen could not be true
    You have taken my existence
    You have filled it full of stones
    You have turned into a stranger
    Now I need to walk alone

    But I won’t be sad
    But I won’t be destroyed…

    And the word said
    Hey… it’s a brand new day.

  17. Meaghan says...

    Before I was even pregnant, my husband and I went to see the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”. One of the songs: “Everything’s Alright” really touched me. I learned the words during my pregnancy and now my husband and I both sing a few courses of the song to our one-year old as we rock him to sleep. Here it is:

    Try not to get worried
    Try not to turn on to
    Problems that upset you
    oh Don’t you know
    Everything’s alright
    Yes everything’s fine
    And we want you to sleep well tonight
    Let the world turn without you tonight
    If we try
    We’ll get by
    So forget all about us tonight

    Sleep and I shall soothe you
    Calm you and anoint you
    Myrrh for your hot forehead
    oh Then you’ll feel
    Everything’s all right
    Yes everything’s fine
    And it’s cool and the ointment’s sweet
    For the fire in your head and feet
    Close your eyes
    Close your eyes
    And relax
    Think of nothing tonight

  18. Tammy says...

    This is a song that my mother sang to me when I was a little girl. My whole life when I hear it, I cry. Now I sing it to my baby at bedtime.

    A tiny turned up nose. Two cheeks just like a rose.
    So sweet from head to toe. That little boy of mine.
    You will never know what your coming has meant.
    You see I love you so. You’re something Heaven has sent.
    You mean the world to me. You climb upon my knee.
    To me you’ll always be that little boy of mine.

  19. My mother sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to me and I sang it to my son. It says I’m here whenever you need me and promises unconditional love. To me, that’s the one core requirement of parenthood and so the song is perfect. My son is now 17 and when he made a playlist for our first roadtrip with him behind the wheel, the song was there. That was a splendid moment for me.

  20. Clare says...

    My 19 month-old baby is still drinking bottles before bed (oops) but while he calms down, I sing Stay Awake from Mary Poppins (I have to stop before he understands the lyrics and takes them seriously, but the tune is so lovely), Edelweiss, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and (a new addition) The Glory of Love. I don’t know why we ended up with those four, but we like the routine of it.
    I have always sung I Will to my boys – even when my now 5.5 year old was in my belly. I love those lyrics – when still pregnant, I adjusted the final verse to “and when at last I meet you.” It was such a lovely thought when powering through the last few months of a very hot summer while very pregnant.

  21. B says...

    Oooh beautiful topic :) I sing ‘so this is love’ from Cinderella to my girls (when they were teeny)…

    ‘So this is love
    Mmm-mm, mmm-mm,
    So this is love…
    So this is what makes life divine

    I’m all a-glow
    Mmm-mm, mmm-mm
    And now I know,
    The key to all heaven is mine

    My heart has wings
    Mmm-mm, mmm-mm
    And I can fly…
    I’ll touch every star in the sky…

    So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of…
    So this, is, love…’

    GAH! Makes me tear up each time! Haha :)

    • Ellen says...

      Oh, I LOVE this song!!

  22. Lena says...

    I’m Icelandic and guilty of singing the “creepy” lullaby for my girls. ? It’s really soothing though. We also sing some in Norwegian (live in Norway and their father is Norwegian)… ?

  23. Elisa Mallinder says...

    When our daughter was born we made up a little a lullaby for her. She is five now and we have sung it to her every night. If we are away we have a video of my husband and I singing badly ” The Matilda Boo” song saved to her IPad and she plays it over and over before sleeping. Makes my heart swell.

  24. Oneida Christensen says...

    when my kiddos were smaller (they are 4 and 6 now), i would sing the lullaby that ‘darling’ sings to her baby in disney’s “lady and the tramp” every night as they fell asleep. it’s called “la la lu” and it is the sweetest little lullaby. my daughters get frightened easily by scary bad guys or even intense conflict in movies. but they love some of the sweetest classic disney movies and “lady and the tramp” has such a nostalgic feel to it. they got so used to me singing it, that when i went on a 2-week work trip, i recorded myself singing it on my husband’s phone so they could fall asleep to me singing. he said they cuddled up to him and sighed deeply once the video started playing.

    here are the lyrics:
    La la lu, La la lu
    Oh, my little star sweeper
    I’ll sweep the stardust for you

    La la lu, La la lu
    Little soft fluffy sleeper
    Here comes a pink cloud for you

    La la lu, La la lu
    Little wandering angel
    Fold up your wings close your eyes

    La la lu, La la lu
    And may love be your keeper
    La la lu, La la lu, La la lu

  25. Veronica says...

    All Beatles songs: here, there, everywhere, yesterday, I’m only sleeping, and we end on what my daughter calls “her song” hey Jude. I used to sing it with her name instead of Jude, but now she’s a stickler and corrects me.
    I love “I will” a must add to the mix!
    For a little while I sang classic songs that felt like a chore, and not like “me” is that awful? Now I find joy in singing these songs and hearing her little voice sing them, even if the words are sad in some verses.

  26. Kate Baumwol says...

    Growing up my Italian mom would sing a song she learnt in primary school, it was actually a traditional New Zealand Maori song and at the time she clearly had no idea what she was singing so just made up her own words to the tune. The tune is such a comfort to me and I sing it to my own kids random words and all. A few years ago, when the New Zealand government passed same sex marriage the gallery burst into the song…. when i saw it on the news I instantly recognised the tune and burst into tears. It turns out its a love song.

  27. Anna says...

    For each of our three girls (5, 3, and 15 months), we have a “baby song”. They are common songs, with some words we made up to fit their names and personalities when they were newborns. If they aren’t feeling well or need some cuddles, they will ask to be held and want me to sing their baby song. All three share a room, and I’ll sometimes catch them singing each other their baby songs- it’s the sweetest.

  28. Nicole says...

    I chose ‘If I Had Words’ for my son but he had other ideas. Around eight weeks old I found he dropped into slumber to ‘The Rainbow Connection’. It’s still our song to this day.

  29. Jen says...

    Heaven by the Talking Heads. I recently heard the live version for the first time and I’ve been obsessed! It’s kind of sad and beautiful and the same time. I tear up whenever I sing it to my son.

  30. When my husband studied voice in college, one of the songs he performed was “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady. I’ve loved it ever since, and when I was pregnant, I often sang it in the early mornings when it was just me, my growing belly, and a cup of tea.

    The day our son was born, my husband was trying to rock him to sleep with no success, and I suggested he sing that song. He did, and the baby instantly calmed down and watched him sing with this unbelievably perfect expression of trust and contentment.

    Not only is that moment of seeing them together one of my favorite memories, that song has become my son’s lullaby. He’s only eight months old, but my husband or I have sung it to him every day of his life, and it always soothes him and makes him smile.

  31. Claire Sexton says...

    My mom says she mostly sang christmas songs to me when I was born because those were about the only child-appropriate lyrics she knew. Though in the early days, apparently she also sang inappropriate ones.
    I also only knew so many songs in the early days & got pretty bored with the ABC-Twinkle Twinkle-Bah Bah Black sheep trio, so “Killing Me Softly” is a go-to, “Close to you” is one he likes (with the “ahhh-ahh-ah-ah, close to youuu..” bit on repeat). My husband does “The Ants Go Marching…”
    At nearly 4, the little one gets mad if we start singing instead of reading, because he’s onto our tricks.

  32. Andrea says...

    My 2-yr old daughter requests “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka every night. I love the childlike whimsy and wonder of it – its a perfect drift-off-to-dream song.

  33. Natalie McMonagle says...

    I Will! I’ve sung that to my now 4 year-old since she was a baby too! I put both her and my 1.5 year-old to bed together and sing until they’re both asleep. Others include Baby Mine (Dumbo), Eidelweiss (again!), Smile (Nat King Cole), and Mother Natures Song (we do a lot of Beatles).

    • Natalie McMonagle says...


  34. Hannah says...

    My two year old is absorbing song lyrics like you wouldn’t believe, and he asks for the same songs every night. This intense look of concentration on his face, like he’s trying to memorize them! Recent favorites are “Get out of my dreams, get into my car” (the first one that came to mind when he asked for a car song, and it stuck), “Away in a manger,” and “our goodnight song”…. which is the Lawrence Welk Show theme song. I grew up watching it in reruns and it’s still a bubbly comfort to me. Love all these suggestions to add to the rotation!

  35. Mauresa says...

    “Beautiful Dreamer” and the lesser known “Slumber My Darling” by Stephen Foster are some of my go-to’s.

    “Distant Melody” from the musical Peter Pan and “Baby Mine” from Dumbo (although, sad!) are also favorites.

  36. Claire says...

    I’ve always sung Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby. My son is four now and it still calms him. I don’t know why I chose it or why it stuck, it’s not a very happy song.

  37. Peggy says...

    I will always have a soft spot for “Sweet Baby James” and “Our Love is Here to Stay”. I sang them to my daughter every night for years. She is in her thirties now and whenever I hear them I still think of her singing to her and rubbing her back as she settled down for the night.

    • Veronica says...


  38. For my last three babies (I have five), I’ve used this app call SleepStream, their “Ultimate” version. Besides being my go-to for white noise, they have this downloadable extra (among many) called “Acapela Lullabies” and it’s a loop of a woman singing (I think 10? different) lullabies. Nothing is as special as actually singing to your own child, and I do that often, but I always sing the lullabies the unknown woman on this app taught me! They’re the best ones and so beautiful. My little boy likes the Stay Awake song from Mary Poppins, too, so I sing that one a lot. But seriously, as weird as it sounds, that feature of that app has been the lullaby canon in our family for years. We still use it every day.

  39. Lindsay says...

    My brother taught me this version of the Devil’s Nine. The lyrics are a little creepy but the melody is sweet. I loved having a longer song to sing during those long sleepless newborn nights. My daughter always stopped crying the second she heard this song and it still settles her down.

  40. Laura Sinrod says...

    My father and I danced to I Will at my bat mitzvah and again at my wedding. Time to introduce it to my children…I used to sing golden slumbers to my son.

  41. Funny, I never warmed up to lullabies with my son! I sing spiritual songs, they appease me at the same time! One of my favorites is:
    I am available to you

    You gave me my hands to reach out to man
    To show him Your love and Your perfect plan
    You gave me my ears, I can hear Your voice so clear
    I can hear the cries of sinners
    But can I wipe away their tears?

    Lord, I’m available to You
    My will I give to You
    I’ll do what You say do
    Use me Lord to show someone the way and enable me to say
    My storage is empty and I am available to You

  42. Claire says...

    I’ve played or sung The Decemberists song “The Shankill Butchers” to my son nearly every night since he’s born. Its a pretty dark song (the shankills butchers want to catch you awake…) but it is sung very sweetly and has a comically narcoleptic affect on him, the minute he hears the climbing chords his head goes on my shoulder to sleep. :)

  43. Sarah says...

    “I Will” was our wedding song! Never thought to sing it as a lullaby. I sometimes sing Amazing Grace but it was too distracting for my daughter, Grace, to have her name in the song. I like Billy Joel’s Goodnight my Angel. And my husband sings a version of “This is Ground Control to Major Tom”

  44. Sarah says...

    Like everyone else, I love this thread. I had been obsessed my whole pregnancy creating a Spotify playlist with songs I felt would calm my daughter. I had read they recognize songs you played repeatedly while growing them. We play that playlist constantly. I had to add some of these suggestions to it. She’s only 5 weeks old now, so plenty of time to memorize them all. My personal favorite on my playlist that gets me weepy is Sweetest Thing by Sade.

  45. jinna says...

    I need to come back and read through these for some more ideas!
    ‘you are my sunshine’ really is devastating and even just the chorus feels weighted with uncomfortable responsibility for a babe.
    We sing it
    “you are my sunshine / my golden sunshine / you make me happy when skies are grey / you’ll never know dear how much I love you / no-one can take that sunshine away”
    and leave it there.

    My boys also love
    “Mama’s love is all around you through the night / my love is all around you in the morning light / Mama’s love is all around you the day long / my love is all around you in the evening song”
    and my voice cracks a little every night.

  46. When We Were Young by Lucy Schwartz (the theme song from Parenthood) always makes me tear up when I sing it to my 8 month old.
    When we were young
    We were small but we didn’t know it
    When you were hurt
    You would smile so you didn’t show it
    And I can’t believe you’re mine
    Can’t believe you’re mine
    When we were young
    We were brave, we were wild warriors
    And you liked to race
    So we’d run to the distant shores
    And I can’t believe you’re mine
    Can’t believe you’re mine
    When the night came we would both say goodbye and go
    But now that I’m older I’m sleepless outside your door
    So let me in
    I can’t believe you’re mine
    Now we are tall
    We are wise
    We are tired of growing
    All of this time
    You and I
    How did we not know it
    And I can’t believe you’re mine
    Can’t believe you’re mine
    Can’t believe you’re mine

    Read more: Lucy Schwartz – When We Were Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  47. sweet baby james, dream a little dream of me, and ooh child are the hits for my favorite little one.

  48. Sophie says...

    “I Will” is my number one fav. Also “stay awake” from Mary Poppins–do you know it? Reverse psychology wins the day (and night!)

    Stay awake, don’t rest your head
    don’t lie down upon your bed
    While the moon drifts in the sky
    stay awake, don’t close your eyes

    Though the world is fast asleep
    Though your pillow’s soft and deep
    you’re not sleepy as you seem
    stay awake, don’t nod and dream

  49. Amy C Seibert says...

    Oh I love you and this post. Joanna. Yours was one of the first blogs I followed and since day one I’ve been addicted. I’ve been with you since you were single and I’ve gotten so much joy out of your posts over the years. To see that you also sing “I will” to your kiddos – which I’ve sung to both of my babies – Makes it all the mitt perfect.

  50. Elizabeth says...

    I came by two of my daughter’s favorite lullabies through our Music Together classes. They are both sweet and simple.

    1. Star shinning number, number one, number two, number three
    Goodnight, by and by, by and by, goodnight, by and by
    Star shinning number, number four, number five, number six
    Goodnight, by and by, by and by, goodnight, by and by

    2. Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleepy head
    Sleep, sleep, snuggle in your bed
    I will keep you safe and warm
    So sleep, sleep, sleep, sleepy head

  51. Annie says...

    I’ve been singing I Will to my daughter since she was born as well! We also sing Wildflowers by Tom Petty.

  52. Kate says...

    Since my son was born, I’ve sung “California Stars” and “Jesus, Etc.” as part of his bedtime routine. He’s two now and can’t fully settle down until he gets his Wilco. I’m pretty sure if I took him to see them live he’d be like Homer Simpson at this BTO concert:

  53. Emily says...

    My oldest is five. I have a 2 year old, and my youngest is 5 months. Rainbow Connection has always been my go-to lullaby, but there are a few others like Amazing Grace, You Are My Sunshine and Little Boy Blue (with the words changed for my son). Fun reading what others like to sing to their kiddos.

  54. Kate says...

    I sing ‘Heavy Heart’ by You Am I. It’s by an Australian rock band, but this song is acoustic. The song is gentle and a bit romantic. It’s about a man with a broken heart.

    It was one of my favorite songs from when I was a teenager, and I started singing it to my son because it was the only longer song I knew all the words too. I was sick of singing twinkle twinkle over and over!

    The opening lines are;

    “Been watching so much TV
    I’m thinner than I should be
    I’m like a waterlogged ball
    that no one wants to kick around any more.”

    It’s a soft song to sing, probably not a great bedtime or life message but it makes my son super relaxed. When he heard it on radio once, his little eyes lit up and he sung the first few lines. Ahhh made me well up! My ratty teenage self would never have pictured this!

    I also has the lines “I miss you like sleep” and I always say SLEEP a bit more pronounced, like he will subconsciously hear the word and drift off.

    Have a listen, it’s a kind of sweet song.

  55. Dena says...

    I love this thread– I sang my now-six-year-old to bed for years, and still remember the panic of not knowing what to sing next. I’m another vote for Leaving on a Jet Plane; in keeping with the plane theme, I also sang Amelia (Joni Mitchell) and Airline to Heaven (from the second Mermaid Avenue album– mostly Wilco); Dimestore Cowgirl, by Kacey Musgraves; Iowa by Dar Williams; and Things Just Getting Good, by the Promise Ring. I cried through everything. Maybe it’s just bedtime that makes us weepy? I remember reading an article about how going to sleep is a big transition for little ones that we don’t really think about. (It’s enough to make anyone weepy!)

  56. Kate says...

    My mom made up a lullaby to sing to me as a baby. Years later, as an adult, the song popped into my head but when I Googled the lyrics I couldn’t find it anywhere. It wasn’t until I sang it to my mom over the phone did I know she wrote it herself. She was in tears realizing I remembered the words and melody. It goes:

    Never in my wildest dreams did I believe
    I could love anyone as much as I do you
    Never in my wildest dreams did I believe
    There could be such a very special love
    You’re my sunshine and you’re my rain
    You’re my laughter and yes, sometimes my pain
    But I’ll love you forever, this much is true
    A part of me is lost when I’m not with you

    • KT says...

      This just made me cry in the middle of the street (I’m missing my mom something fierce after another Mother’s Day without her). What a special memory for you both!

    • Cora says...

      This is such a beautiful song and a beautiful gift your mother gave you.

    • Liz says...

      <3 <3 <3

  57. Tammy Sutherland says...

    The song I dreamed about singing to my babies before they were born is “True Colors.” It was the first thing I sang to each of my girls:

    I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.
    So don’t be afraid to let them show.
    Your true colors, true colors are beautiful like a rainbow

    But when it’s been a really hard parenting day or when the tension of getting everyone into bed ends things on a sour note, I sing Ron Sexsmith’s “Gold in Them Hills” to remind them and me that it was still a special day and that we get another chance tomorrow:

    I know it doesn’t seem that way, but maybe it’s the perfect day
    Even though the bills are piling, maybe lady luck is smiling
    And if we’d only open our eyes, we’d see our blessings in disguise
    That all the rain clouds are fountains although our troubles seem like mountains
    There’s gold in them hills
    There’s gold in them hills
    So don’t lose heart
    Give the day a chance to start

    I studied voice for a decade and performed professionally in my early adulthood. But now my audience is just two. They are forgiving and adoring and give more back to me than any round of applause ever could. I love singing them lullabies.

  58. Megan says...

    My daughter was born 8 weeks early and stayed at the hospital for 10 weeks. I had a lot of time waiting and ended up writing her own lullaby. We sing it everyday and it still can choke me up.

    Gemma Rose, Gemma Rose
    Prettiest baby with the sweetest nose.
    She’s so strong, and so brave,
    Getting bigger everyday.

    Gemma Rose, Gemma Rose
    Smartest baby with the tiniest toes.
    She’s the best in all the world,
    Mommy and Daddy sure love their girl,
    Gemma Rose.

  59. I sing my girls “Baby’s Boat”, which my mom sang to me, and her mom sang to her! I love this collection of lullabies, whatever it takes to get those kids to sleep!

    Baby’s boat, a silver moon
    sailing on the sky
    Sailing over the sea of dreams
    as the clouds roll by
    Sail, Baby, Sail
    Out upon that sea
    Only don’t forget to sail
    back again to me.

  60. Robyn says...

    My top pick to sing my daughter was the classic, Twinkle, Twinkle, little star. She claims it’s her favorite and she’s almost 4 years old. My almost two-year-old likes Wagon Wheel. I sing it with the Old Crow Medicine Show style.

  61. Alisa says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post… reading the comments is so helpful! I have two month old twins, and so far they’ve been subjected to my pathetic humming because my baby brain can’t think of anything in the moment! Lots of inspiration :)

  62. “Bushel and a Peck” from Guys and Dolls; the Johnny Appleseed Blessing–“The Lord is good to me…”; “Golden Slumbers”; “All the Pretty Little Horses”–all four, every night.

  63. Molly says...

    I sing to my daughter and son the song my mom sang to us. She said she learned it at Girl Scout camp, but I have never met anyone else who knows it! My mom died seven years ago before I had children, but when I sing this song, I always feel her with us.

    Peace, I ask of thee oh River
    Peace, peace, peace.
    When I learn to live serenely,
    Cares will cease.
    From the hills I gather courage,
    Visions of the days to be.
    Strength to lead and faith to follow,
    All are given on to me.
    Peace I ask of thee of River
    Peace, peace, peace.

  64. LizO says...

    Each of my little guys has their song that is special to me and them:
    1. LIttle Blue by the Beautiful South (because that’s what we called him while he was growing inside me after fertility struggle and miscarriage)
    2. Pretty Little Angel Eyes by Curtis Lee (I change Angel Eyes to Almond Eyes because it was the first beautiful feature I noticed on my second son).
    I sing them both terribly but I still sing them and so far they still don’t mind :) They are not exactly lullabies but more special songs for each of my special guys.

  65. Johanna says...

    I regularly sing “Peace like a river”, “This little light of mine,” “Leaving on a jetplane”, and some songs from my summer camp. My husband is way more creative – he sings “Starfish and Coffee”, many Bob Marley and Tom Petty songs, and often adapts them to our daughter’s demands to change words or sing one song to the melody of another.

  66. Stephanie says...

    Edelweiss, My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean, and Walking After Midnight, by Patsy Cline. In My Life, by the Beatles. And then a bunch of songs from summer camp like Barges and This Little Light of Mine.

  67. Kari Dalziel says...

    I usually end up telling my DD “the pony story!” or some other made up story. But if she requests some singing, she like the classic Rock-a-by-Baby. And I find myself singing her “oh my darling clementine” often, just because it was all I could think of one night and now she likes it. And the ABC song lol, she loves that.

  68. Margaret says...

    Benediction by Josh Garrels :)

    “may all of your days shine brightly
    and your nights be blessed with peace
    wherever you lay down to sleep”

  69. Karin says...

    I sing “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins – it’s just the right length. By the second verse my girl’s body gets heavy, no matter what.

  70. Esty says...

    You can close your eyes by James Taylor. The best! My dad used to sing it to me and now I sing it to my son and daughter.

    • caroline says...

      I am surprised that no one else has mentioned this song yet! It is the best! I sing it to my son and daughter, as well as
      “Sweet Baby James” for my own baby James.

  71. Sarah S says...

    I love this topic! When my 1.5 year old was born I spent some time searching for the right lullaby – I didn’t realize I couldn’t remember the words to any lullabies until the first few nights home from the hospital – I ended up humming a lot. I love the idea of “I will” and may have to add it to my rotation. My go-to though is a less materialistic version of “hush little baby” – I found it online, but can’t remember where:
    Hush little baby don’t you cry, momma’s gonna sing you a lullaby
    Hush little baby, don’t say a word, daddy’s gonna show you a hummingbird
    If that humming bird should fly, momma’s gonna show you a bright blue sky
    When the evening shadows fall, we’re gonna hear the crickets call
    As their songs drift from afar, we’re gonna wish on a shooting star
    So hush little baby, don’t you cry, momma’s gonna sing you a lullaby.

    I still sing it at nap time and bedtime everyday!

    • Hush Little Baby was a standard for me, and now for my daughter with her children. We also change “buy” to find” and change the person who is doing the searching in the song.
      I have a low voice, and a terrible ear, but somehow, I could most of Raffi’s songs! My grandchildren love them as well.
      Talk about Pavlovian- my husband starts singing the theme song from “Paladin” in his rumbly voice, and the grandchildren conk out.

  72. Adriane says...

    Thank you for sharing these! I loved reading all the comments and several brought the tears on! I recently had my second and it inspired me to create a running playlist for him and my daughter so they have a record of all the songs they liked when they were little.
    We have special songs that we made up for our daughter Lucy at night but my MIL told me about a song called “Put your shoes on Lucy” that we always sing when we are trying to get her out the door…

    Put your shoes on Lucy, don’t you know you’re in the city
    Put your shows on Lucy, its really such a pity
    That Lucy can go barefoot wherever she goes
    Cause she loves to feel the wiggle of your toes

  73. Becca says...

    You are My Sunshine, for sure. And I made up a song for my each of my girls, with their names and some of the things I love about them. Also Rainbow Connection – it’s very long but so soothing. It was the processional at our wedding so it’s extra special that the girls request it.

    • Becca says...

      I should also note that, before I knew You are My Sunshine had multiple verses I made up a second verse:

      And now it’s bedtime
      My darling, bedtime
      Time for you to close, your clear blue/stormy (depends on child) eyes
      And dream your sweet dreams, my darling sweet dreams
      And we’ll all be here when you wake

      much happier than the original!

  74. Meg says...

    Baby Mine from Dumbo was a lullaby my babes seemed particularly calmed by. I’ll never forget those late nights with a fuzzy head on my chest… their sweet little voices joining in on the tune even before they could speak the words. My oldest actually went through a phase where she called me “Mommy mine”. I was confused at first but then my heart melted that night when we sang together about her being “Baby mine”. <3

    "Baby mine, don't you cry
    Baby mine, dry your eyes
    Rest your head close to my heart
    Never to part
    Baby of mine

    Little one when you play
    Pay no heed to what they say
    Let your eyes sparkle and shine
    Never a tear
    Baby of mine

    If they knew all about you
    They'd end up loving you too
    All those same people who scold you
    What they'd give just for the right to hold you

    From your head down to your toes
    You're not much, goodness knows
    But you're so precious to me
    Sweet as can be
    Baby of mine"

    • J. Jay says...

      I agree, Meg. “Baby Mine” makes me softly weep. Such a dear song. Especially when Bette Midler sings it.
      Back at the end of the 60’s Perry Como made a song called “It’s Impossible” that although is a romantic song, I always felt the words fit so well of how much I loved my baby daughter.
      “…And tomorrow should you ask me for the world somehow I’d get it. I would sell my very soul and not regret it, for to live without your love is just impossible.”

  75. Kathy says...

    Bridge Over Troubled Water was playing on the radio when I brought my daughter home from the hospital. I try to sing it to her sometimes, but just end up weeping. No matter how awkward the situation, I will for sure cry if I hear it.
    She loves Hey There Little Red Riding Hood, which I find creepy. Be careful what you sing to them when they are teeny and fussy because if something works to calm them down, you will just keep singing it over and over even if its weird.

  76. For all of my little guy’s three years so far, I have sang Sweet Child of Mine (Guns and Roses) and 500 Miles (Peter, Paul and Mary) every night. I love how now he’s able to sing along. I also love when we randomly hear Sweet Child of Mine while out and about, he gets so excited and says “Mama, it’s our song!”

  77. Even though we are a secular household, I sing my kiddos the Christmas songs I learned as a child in England.
    “Once a Golden Star Was Shining Clear and Bright”
    And I sing a mixture of the English tune and the American tune for, “Away in a Manger”.
    We sing “Twinkle Twinkle little star”, “Bye Baby Bunting”, “Rock a Bye Baby With a Dixie Melody”. My mom used to sing that last one to me.

    I also weirdly remember all the nursery rhymes from my youth and recite up to about 20 of them for my 8-year-old :) This is my jam.

  78. Erin says...

    A children’s choir once performed the song “I Will” at a celebration for an Adoption Agency. I have always loved the song, but I will always now see it through the beautiful lens of adoptive parents singing to their newly adopted children. Makes me tear up every time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so beautiful, erin.

  79. Lyndi says...

    I sing “If I Had Words” by Scott Fitzgerald. It’s just one of those songs I’ve hummed for years and one day I decided to look up the words. I sang it to my daughter (3.5) one time and from that day she won’t go to sleep without it. Now my son (1.5) hums it with me every night too. I didn’t have a bedtime song growing up, but I think it’s a really special tradition.

  80. Briana says...

    I alternate between the Baby Mine song off of Dumbo and Yellow by Coldplay. Some of my sweetest memories of our first years together.

  81. Liz says...

    I’m choking up reading these comments from readers, a mothers love is so precious and it feels so intimate to hear what each woman sings to her child, or memories of what our own mothers sang to us. I remember reading that babies are most drawn to their mothers voice, more than other sound in the world, and when a mother sings, it’s even more alluring to babies because when we sing our voices get higher and softer. I love that. If you sing to a crying baby it often will calm them down because they are so enamored by their mothers voice.

    My son is 14 months and I sing almost always in this same order
    “All My Loving” the Beatles
    “Dream a Little Dream of Me” Mama Cass version
    “I will” the Beatles (love that you sing this, too!)
    “Song for the Asking “Simon and Garfunkel

    I started to sing “Song for the Asking” when I was pregnant and would just weep at these lyrics:


    Here is my song for the asking
    Ask me and I will play
    So sweetly, I’ll make you smile

    This is my tune for the taking
    Take it, don’t turn away
    I’ve been waiting all my life

    Thinking it over, I’ve been sad
    Thinking it over, I’d be more than glad
    To change my ways for the asking

    Ask me and I will play
    All the love that I hold inside (<—- yeeeeah this is where I would JUST LOSE IT)


    • Veronica says...

      Love this, all so true.

  82. Kat says...

    I sing a couple of Spanish love songs to my boys and we slow dance with them as part of our bedtime routine (we use an ipod on nights we have a sitter or when I’m too winded to sing and dance lol). When I became a mom I realized there was no love more powerful than from a mom to her child. So really, most romantic songs that are appropriate for little ears make for great lullabies :)

  83. Shana says...

    I sang “Sweet Baby James” to my foster son every night from the moment he was placed with us (while still in the NICU) until he left our home a few weeks ago. Foster care will destroy you…

    • Sarah says...

      Sounds like he was so lucky to have you. Love to you and your open heart.

  84. L says...

    I also sing Edelweiss (my mom sang it to me)! At the end of the song, instead of “Bless my homeland forever” I say “Bless my __child’s name___forever”). I also sing Stay Awake (from Mary Poppins) – Stay Awake even makes me yawn! Clearly anything sung by Julie Andrews is a favorite.

  85. Stephanie says...

    I’ve had nieces and nephews since I was 14, and ever since they were little bitty I sang “edelweiss” and “desperado” to them. Such special moments snuggling with them.

  86. Brooklynne Peters says...

    I love singing to my girls. These are some favorites that I dreamt about singing to them long before they ever arrived:
    Goodnight my angel by Billy Joel
    You Cannot Lose My Love by Sara Groves
    Godspeed by the Dixie Chicks
    Morning Lullabies by Ingrid Michaelson
    Make You Feel My Love (Adele version)
    Tu Ra Loo (Irish Lullaby)
    Best Day by Taylor Swift
    You Belong to Me by Jason Wade
    I Love You by Nat King Cole
    Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright

  87. Lisa says...

    I am so grateful for this post! I even looked recently for “normal songs to sing as lullabies” and couldn’t find any that I felt connected to. I love “I will” – now I just have to memorize the lyrics for my 3 year old. :) I’ve been singing “You are my sunshine” but recently discovered how sad the actual song is!

  88. Michelle says...

    Much like Stacy’s comment, I too was looking for a song that wouldn’t drive me bonkers. I ended up playing “Cosmic Dancer” by T. Rex during pregnancy for both of my kids. When they were born, all I had to do was start playing the song or sing the first few lines and they were instantly calm and ready to doze off. It’s as comforting for them as being swaddled! Even now, as my daughter is two and a half, it’s been helpful to play “my tune” to relax her in those terrible two moments or help her fall asleep in the car when we’ve sitting in L.A. traffic for too long.

  89. Kate says...

    I have 3 go to songs that my 3 daughters request:
    1) Tell Me Why (I love the Carole King version)
    2) Night Mantra (Renee and Jeremy)
    3) La Vie en Rose (I love the version from How I Met Your Mother, of all places!)

    And one song our oldest daughter brought home from school that we now sing daily (and is PERFECT for these days and times):
    Take Care by Mom and Pop Band (if you google that you can find it – also have a video of my daughter singing it on my IG @katiewendel) – Here are the lyrics:
    Take care of the people you love;
    Take care of the people who need love.
    Take care of the birds and the bees;
    Take care of the flowers and the trees.
    Do what you love.
    Do what you do well.
    But most of all, take care!

    • Adrienne says...

      I sing “Night Mantra” to my little babe too. It’s so easy and soothing.

  90. Kristie says...

    I like to refer to my chosen life’s role in this regard as “fairy godmother” — my husband and I have chosen not to raise children of our own, but I utterly adore everyone else’s. I was the biggest sister, babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, preschool teacher… and I try to show up as much as I can for friends raising littles. I’m 47 and have practiced yoga since I was 21, so chanting is what comes naturally to me. I find that different babies are soothed by different chants, so I try them out to see what soothes each baby and then end up with different chants for each child, which is a great sweetness, as only I have the manual: Hari Om is what soothed H when she was small, Om Shanti was preferred by her sister O; we chanted Ambha Bhavani Jaya Jagadambe for three days through J’s labor for M. C was calmed by Om Shanti when she was on the warming table after her birth…

  91. Lydia says...

    When I was little, my mom used to sing “The Circle Game” to me and it wasn’t until high school that I realized that it was Joni Mitchell song. In my little kid mind, I assumed my mom had wrote it.

    • I LOVE THAT SONG/album! That is so so sweet and funny that you went so long thinking your mom wrote it. When I was in my first trimester it came on in a store and I kind of broke down like a maniac and had to leave.

  92. Katie says...

    I have a friend who JUST had a baby & I helped her with some of the nights the first couple of weeks. I don’t have kids & I was surprised by the weird songs that came to mind as I tried to help her son to sleep: the theme song to Growing Pains (I didn’t even know I knew the words!); the theme song to Cheers (botched lyrics left right & center); Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper); and finally, Dream A Little Dream of Me circa the Mamas & the Papas. That one finally did it (:

  93. Asia says...

    I would always singe “You Are My Sunshine,” “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when my girls were younger, but for some reason my 10-year-old has been requesting “the meatball song” every night for the past few months! Yes, that is the song about the meatball on top of spaghetti. We sing it together in a really silly way, she laughs like crazy, and it’s not relaxing at all :)

  94. christina says...

    I sang “You Are My Sunshine” every night to my pregnant belly. When my son was born there were complications and he was rushed to the NICU before I could see him and I wasn’t allowed in the NICU for the next seven hours. When I finally went to the NICU he was in an incubator with a million wires and tubes coming out of him and I couldn’t touch him. He was screaming hysterically and I started singing “You Are My Sunshine.” He quieted down immediately and just listened. The nurse said he had been crying for the past 7 hours straight and that was the first time he was calm. Six years later I still sing him that song every night.

  95. Megan says...

    “You Are My Sunshine” here too! Actually, regarding the sad lyrics, at a baby yoga class I’ve gone to the teacher changes the last line to say “I’m so glad you’re here to stay” (instead of “Please don’t take my sunshine away”).
    My husband often sings “Moon River.”
    I also sing one we learned at a Music Together class called “Great Big Stars.” It’s so, so sweet.
    Great big stars, way up a yonder,
    Great big stars, way up a yonder,
    Great big stars, way up a yonder,
    All around the world gonna shine, shine,
    All around the world gonna shine, shine.

  96. Libby says...

    I Will is our go to lullaby too (and was also the processional at our wedding). I love it so much. My little one now requests Proud Mary every night too.

  97. Rebecca says...

    I love this thread! I sing “Summertime” , the Beatles “Golden Slumbers” and “When I’m 64”, “You are my Sunshine” and “Baby Mine” (the song that Dumbo’s mama sings to him). Sometimes I will sing “Rambling Man” by the Allman Brothers. Also, the very classic “Brahms Lullaby” My mom would always sing me Summertime, and The House of the Rising Sun.

  98. Liz says...

    When my oldest (now 10) was a baby, I tried to sing all the tender songs I could think of. By the time he was a toddler he regularly requested the Bob the Builder theme song and Eric Carmen’s Make Me Lose Control. (For at least a year around that time, too, he had to watch Rihanna’s Umbrella video or he was impossible to get to sleep.)

    He still has me sing the chorus of Make Me Lose Control every night, and I happily oblige because, duh, he still wants me to sing to him before bed.

    My middle son (8) likes to have Don’t Stop Believin’ sung to him every night.

    We’ve always sung the Adelaide song from Guys and Dolls to our daughter because her name is Adelaide. :)

  99. Christina B says...

    I’m pregnant with my first and I love singing “Fools Rush In” to my nephews – plus, it was the first dance at our wedding. I’m tearing up already thinking about it (doesn’t take much these days, ha!) I’ve also loved singing & humming “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” to little ones, it’s in the movie Swing Kids – it’s perfect for dancing around with a little baby.

    • We love “Bei Mir Best Du Schoen” too…amazing melody. Congrats on your pregnancy!!

  100. Laurel says...

    I sing all kind of different songs from The Sound of Music because I loved it so much as a child :)

  101. Kate says...

    I’ve been singing ‘By Your Side’ by Sade to my now-1-year-old at naptimes and bedtimes since he was a couple of months old. It’s beautiful, gentle, easy to sing even for someone harmonically challenged like me, and the lyrics are lovely and appropriate. He really does have a Pavlovian response to it now.

    Also, my husband and I sing ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin to him while we are getting him into his PJs, dividing up the Aladdin/Jasmin verses, except hubby usually sings Jasmin because he has a better falsetto :-). It started as a joke but now it’s a real ritual which baby loves!

  102. Chris says...

    Dad here: I’ve been singing “The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields to my daughter since she was a baby. Now she’s four and we sing it together sometimes. It’s the only “our song” I have in my life and I’m so thankful for it.

  103. I sang Kenny Loggins’ Christopher Robin, Carol King’s Tapestry and Cat Steven’s Moon Shadow. When my oldest son got married he surprised me with Christopher Robin as the mother and son dance. Needless to say it was a tearful dance. When my younger son married we danced to Moon Shadow. Now I sing those songs to my grandchildren and I adore it when they request them.

  104. Caitlin Lee says...

    Make you Feel my Love – Bob Dylan (If i don’t get too choked up!)
    Puff the Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul and Mary (Again, if I don’t get too choked up!)
    Beautiful Boy – John Lennon (Man, I keep getting choked up)
    Edelweiss – The Sound of Music (This one I make it through!)
    Baby Beluga – Raffi (Can survive this one too.)
    Sleep, Baby Sleep – Unknown? Lyrics below:

    Sleep, baby sleep
    The cottage vale is deep.
    The little lamb is on the green, with snowy fleece so soft and clean to sleep, baby sleep.
    Sleep, baby sleep
    You father (or mother, signers choice!) tends the sheep.
    You mother shakes the deamland tree and down will fall sweet dreams for thee to sleep, baby sleep.
    Sleep, baby sleep
    Down where the woodbines creep.
    Be always like a lamb so mild, a kind and sweet and gentle child to sleep, baby sleep.

    Clearly I need to look into I Will – Beatles, too! Love this list!

  105. Janis Joplin’s Me & Bobby McGee. I listened this as a kid with my Mom. and I can sing it quietly without croaking or requiring a soprano voice – of which I’m devoid. Heck, I’m devoid of a singing voice.

  106. Kathleen says...

    I sang many different songs to my boy (now 12) as he grew. One of my favorites was “You Can Close Your Eyes” by James Taylor. It still makes me weepy to hear it, as I think of my little guy. Once he was bigger, my son would request his favorite song to be sung “in slow motion.” I remember singing “Eight Days a Week” as a sleepy ballad for many nights.

  107. I sing Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” to my little one. It was the song my dad and I danced to at my wedding and is very sentimental to me.

    My grandmother used to sing “You Are My Sunshine” to me, but hearing/singing it still chokes me up, even 10 years after she passed away.

  108. Jane says...

    My mother sang this to me, and now I sing it to my growing bump:

    To my little one’s cradle in the night
    Comes a new little goat, snowy white
    The goat will trot to the market
    While Mother, her watch shall keep
    To bring back raisins and almonds
    Sleep, Little One, sleep

    This is the tune:

  109. Cara says...

    My go-to is the lullaby my mom sang to me: “Down in the Valley” (an old folk song). I also sing songs that I still remember from grade school choir: May the Road Rise to Meet You (based on the Irish prayer), Shenandoah (the old folk song)
    Sometimes, when I’m tired and bored, I love singing silly songs that remind me of my hipper days. Her name is Ramona, so I often sing “Waiting For My Ruca” by Sublime “On the east side, that’s where I met my Ramona…” (Although I promise she’s named after my grandmother and Ramona Quimby, with all do respect to Sublime.) Also fun: “Karma Police” by Radiohead, “As Is” or “Little Plastic Castle” by Ani DiFranco, anything by Tegan and Sara…

  110. Jodie says...

    Such a great post! I’ve been singing “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac to my daughter since before she was born. Other favorites are “the Golden Afternoon” from Alice and Wonderland, “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins, and “A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes” from Cinderella.

    • Caitlin Lee says...

      My husband and I danced to Songbird at our wedding! Love that song so much.

    • This is our song, too! I started singing the first line (“for you there’ll be no more crying”) when my daughter was *screaming* at me (colic) and I was crying, trying to bounce her on a yoga ball, and she was so entranced by my voice that she stopped her screaming..for about 3 seconds. Now I sing it to her nightly and it six months she lights up every time I she hears the first few syllables. And I still tear up periodically, especially when I get to “and I love you I love you I love you, like never before…” GAH. Gets me every time.

  111. Jennifer says...

    My favourites are the magical “Night Mantra” by Renee and Jeremy, “Forever and Ever Amen” by Randy Travis (my Dad used to sing it to me when I was little), and “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley, which I sung every night for the first three years of my first son’s life! I’m sure some day he’ll hear it on the radio when he’s older and have some kind of strong reaction!

  112. Sasha says...

    Moms and dads have different ways don’t they…My husband liked to sing Johnny Cash (prison, cocaine, guns), the Ramones (drugs, child abuse), but also lots of Beatles, James Taylor, Willie Nelson. He has a beautiful voice and makes it all sounds good. Kids loved it all.

    I sang constantly, but I don’t have much of a voice. When my youngest was three, one day she covered her ears while I was singing, and said “no mama no, no more please.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha so different, for sure!

  113. Sunny says...

    I will is also in our rotation! We have three: “sitting on the dock of the bay” by Otis Redding, “I Will” and “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby” by Gillian Welch from the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack
    We find that they all allow for great harmonization, we know the words by heart, and we enjoy singing them to the baby together!

  114. Chantal says...

    When my daughter was a newborn, a friend gave us a book of french lullabies (with audio). We found a few we loved and still sing them (she’s 18 months). The sweetest thing is that my french grandmother who is suffering from dementia, lights up when we all sing the songs together and knows every word. I love the history in the songs and how my great-grandmother would rock my grandmother to the same songs that I am rocking my baby to now. :)

    Here is a Raffi version of one of our favorites, Fais Do Do (Go to sleep):

  115. Alison Briggs says...

    We sing The Rainbow Connection (originally by Kermit the Frog!). I’m not sure how this song become our go to lullaby (our son LOVES it and is constantly requesting it). But it does have an interesting history in our family.
    It was the song my parents danced to as their first dance at their wedding in the 70’s. Then my dad and I danced to it at our wedding. I think once we found out we were having a boy I though how amazing it would be for he and I to dance to it at his one day wedding, and that’s how I started singing it to him as a baby.
    What I love most about this song is that it can apply to people in love, but is also so perfect for a parent to sing to their child.

    Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?
    Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide.
    So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
    I know they’re wrong wait and see.
    Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
    The lovers, the dreamers and me.
    Who said that wishes would be heard and answered when wished on the morningstar?
    Someone thought of that and someone believed it.
    Look what it’s done so far.
    What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing and what do we think we might see?
    Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
    The lovers, the dreamers and me.
    All of us under its spell.
    We know that it’s probably magic.
    Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
    I’ve heard them calling my name.
    Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors.
    The voice might be one and the same.
    I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
    It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
    Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.
    La-da-da, de-da-da-do

    • I used to fall asleep listening to this on tape as a child. Now I listen to it on my iphone when I can’t sleep :)

    • J. Jay says...

      Oh great, now I’m crying again. These songs…sigh.

      “The Rainbow Connection” by Paul Williams.
      You should hear him sing it….even after all these years. Paul has such a beautiful voice. Bring a hankie.
      And Willie Nelson does it so well also.

      A thousand thanks, Paul.

  116. Laressa says...

    If I had a Hammer

  117. Ellie says...

    This post is so lovely! My favorite lullaby that I sing to my two boys is James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes”. I always cling to the following verse:
    Well it won’t be long before another day
    We’re gonna have a good time
    And no one’s gonna take that time away
    You can stay as long as you like

    Amid our American culture of planning everything and keeping packed schedules, I love the idea of committing to moments and days with my boys where we just linger and stay as long as we like. It’s become a part of my broader parenting philosophy, so I love reminding myself and my boys of it at the close of each day.

    And in the morning when I change diapers or drive my boys into work I love to sing Sara Watkins’ ‘Take Up Your Spade’, which perfectly frames a new day:
    Sun is up, a new day is before you
    Sun is up, wake your sleepy soul
    Sun is up, hold on to what is yours
    Take up your spade and break ground

    Shake off your shoes,
    Leave yesterday behind you
    Shake off your shoes,
    But forget not where you’ve been
    Shake off your shoes,
    Forgive and be forgiven
    Take up your spade and break ground

    Give thanks, for all that you’ve been given
    Give thanks, for who you can become
    Give thanks, for each moment and every crumb
    Take up your spade and break ground
    Break ground…

    • My mom used to sing that to me as a child! It’s nice to hear that someone else also sings this to their children. I always think of my mother when I hear that song. How special!

  118. Emily says...

    My twin daughters were born prematurely at 25 weeks. From the day I met them I sang them “Love is Easy” by McFly – “If this is love, it’s the easiest thing to do…” They were in the NICU for 110 days, and the one easy part was loving them. Also “Go the Distance” from Hercules really hit home for me and that has become one of our staples as well.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, 110 days! that must have been really hard. “the one easy part was loving them” = brought tears to my eyes. you sound like such an amazing mother, emily.

  119. Jane says...

    I sing “I Will” to my niece all the time! I also sing “Blackbird” by The Beatles and “Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” by the phenomenal trio Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. I’ve also started singing Caledonia – I sang it at summer camp all the time and it has such a strong emotional tie for me.

  120. Alexandra Marie says...

    I grew up with my mom singing Edelweiss to me! I have such visceral memories of laying against her with my ear to her chest and hearing/feeling the vibrations of her voice in her chest. I’m expecting my first in September so I started singing Edelweiss to her, too, in hopes she would remember how my voice sounded and felt when she was in my womb.

  121. Emma says...

    Thanks for sharing “I Will”! I’m going to start using it, it’s so perfect. My favorite song for the baby is “Mess is Mine” by Vance Joy. It made me cry every time I heard it while pregnant. It’s a little hard to make into a lullaby, but I am working on a rendition :).

  122. Small blue thing by Suzanne Vega and sweet child of mine by guns & roses.

  123. Avalanche Lake says...

    I love reading these. My son is 5 months old now so we’ve been doing a lot of singing. When we first brought him back from the hospital, my husband and I realized we didn’t know any lullabies, and we had to do a LOT of bouncing to get him to sleep…so we sang “(Remix to) Ignition” by R. Kelly! (The lyrics at one point go “Bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce…”)

    After that I started singing “Going to Port Washington” by the Mountain Goats. I would get choked up on the lines “I had never loved anyone like I love you” and my husband suggested I try some other songs. :)
    The trees were all decked out in their best fall colors
    There was a snap in the air
    When you eased down the window
    And the New York sun brought out the highlights in your hair
    And gently, gently
    The constellations aligned
    And as we crossed over the Throgs Neck Bridge I had
    Something on my mind

    When we rolled down the street
    In the cool of the morning
    I could feel the new day dawn
    And somebody’d gone and turned the waterworks on
    And slowly, surely
    I saw the whole story unwind
    I had never loved anyone like I loved you and I had
    Something on my mind

    Now I sing a medley of traditional lullabies, “What a Wonderful World,” and “Baby Mine” from the movie Dumbo (that one is a tearfest too if you remember the movie scene!). My husband sings wildly inappropriate outlaw country songs (“I was drunk the day my momma got out of prison…”) but our little guy loves it!

    I’m going to file away the Beatles ideas…those would be great!

    • Sasha says...

      My husband used to sing the Ramones, in the car, to the kids. “Beat on the brat…with a baseball bat”. Oy. Of course they loved it.

  124. Jessie says...

    My kids are now 10 and 8, and I’ve been singing the same three songs to them every night. “You are my sunshine” , “I See the Moon”, and “Baby’s Boat”.
    In addition, for my son, James, I sing James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James”, and for my daughter I sing Priscilla Ahn’s “Dream”.

    • Laura says...

      I also sing Sweet Baby James to my son, but we call it Sweet Callan James (his name). It came on the radio in Panera when we were there for Mother’s Day bagels and I thought everyone in my family was going to cry. It was such a sweet moment.

    • I just scrolled through this whole list, hoping to find another Baby’s Boat mama! Do you change the “Sail, baby, sail” to their names, too?

  125. I used to sing things like Leaving On a Jet Plane, Memory (from cats), Edelweiss, and a handful of other songs, but now my kids prefer no songs – just stories and ocean sounds (or other nature sounds) to fall asleep to.

    • J. Jay says...

      “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”.

  126. MaryMargaret says...

    I sing “Summertime” to my youngest (his request, every night):

    Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
    Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
    Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’
    So hush, little baby, and don’t you cry

    One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
    And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
    But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
    With daddy and mommy standin’ by

    My husband sings “Les Feuilles Mortes”; my middle kid usually requests a song like “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”

    • Rachel says...

      This is so interesting. Somehow, I never really considered the idea that other people have a whole separate arsenal of songs for their little ones! My go-to is “Hush little baby, don’t say a word” (not sure if that’s actually the title, but it’s the first verse) — my mom sang that one to me, and I’m sure I’ve sung it thousands of times. Other recent favorites are Bridge Over Troubled Water, Summertime (from Porgy and Bess), How Can I Keep From Singing (Enya! We sang it in church for Easter, and I liked it!), and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

    • Rebecca says...

      I also sing Summertime! It’s my oldest son’s request for his “last song” every night. My mom would always sing it to me.

    • FINALLY. I looked through a zillion comments to see if anyone else sang Summertime, which I thought would be popular, but apparently no?

  127. Jordan says...

    I sing my son a tone deaf version of Dedicated to the One I Love by the Mamas and the Papas. He is two now and I will hear him playing in the other room singing it to himself. It is so cute that I can feel my heart explode. But unfortunately, his version is just as tone deaf!

  128. Okay, seeing the full lyrics to you are my sunshine actually made me feel better! My dad died when I was 4, so hearing this song as a kid always made me think of that. I refused to let people sing the second verse around me. And now thinking of singing it to my baby? Sadistic! I made up a new verse though, since it’s so catchy:
    You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
    You make me happy when skies are grey
    I’ll always show you how much I love you
    When we run, sing, laugh and play

    :-) much better

  129. Jules says...

    I have always known from a very young age that all I wanted to be was a Mum. I used to love watching the TV movie of Peter Pan the musical as a child and filed away Tender Shepard to sing to my own children one day. It brought tears to my eyes the first time I sung it to my daughter. 5 year old me would be so happy to know that I finally did have a real life baby of my own to sing to! It is such a simple song and I sing it on repeat until she calms down.

    Tender Shepherd
    Tender Shepherd
    Watches over all his sheep
    1 in the meadow
    2 in the garden
    3 in the nursery fast asleep

    My daughter also loves Our House by Crosby Stills & Nash. “Life used to be so hard, Now everything is easy ’cause of you”. Life definitely is not easier but there is a whole lot more love!

    • Ah I LOVE Tender Shepherd! There is an extended version of the song that I cannot figure out the origin of, but I love to sing that to my kids. After Tender Shepherd it goes into a lovely song about fairytales and never growing old.

    • Sasha says...

      Ooh, I love “our house,” that’s the best lyric.

  130. Tara says...

    Deb Talan is one of my favorites of all time. I can’t believe I came across her on here! Her solo work and her band, The Weepies, all have lots of good potential lullabies.

    • Kate says...

      Yes! Same here! I have a bunch on a saved playlist called “sleeping songs” that I like to fall asleep to/plan on singing to my future children

  131. Heidi says...

    I sing Paul McCartney’s Wings “Silly Love Songs” and during the ” I love youuuu” part I trace a heart around my daughter’s face. It made me cry the first time she was old enough to trace the heart back on my face! We also love Golden Slumbers. Big Beatles fans.

  132. Tora says...

    I am Icelandic and can confirm that this lullaby is real. I have two that I sing to my son, one from Torbjørn Egners story of the animals in Huckybucky forest, the other one a traditional Icelandic one that is almost as terrible as the one you wrote about.
    It is supposedly a lullaby sung by an outlaw mother on the run, before she threw her sleeping baby into a waterfall…..and it is also commonly used at children’s funerals. But it is just so beautiful anyway, here is a short condensed/rough translation in English (from )

    Sleep my young love. Outside the rain cries
    Mother keeps your gold, old leg bones and chest of stones
    We shall not be awake on dark nights
    The darkness knows so plenty
    My mind is heavy
    Often black sands I gazed at
    burning green meadows
    In the glacier lives dead deep cracks
    Sleep well, sleep tight
    Better to wake up later
    Mother will teach you sooner
    ’til the sun reaches the horizon
    That men love, lose, cry and pine for.

    Here is an amazing rendition of the song

    My boyfriend sings Baa Baa Black Sheep, the same song his father used to sing to him and I find it so precious to witness this passing on of traditions, and my son loves it so much that he sometimes requests me to sing it, but I refuse as I want it to be their thing.

  133. Jana says...

    My daughter is two and a half and loves Leaving on a Jet Plane!! Whenever I mention a trip or travel, she requests it! :)

  134. Catherine says...

    “The Cowboy Song” (Sweet Baby James). They love it.

  135. Katie says...

    You Are My Sunshine would regularly make me cry when my mom sang it to me. I imagine Leaving on a Jet Plane would have upset me, too. (I don’t like separation ;))
    I would sing Moon River to the babes I nannied. His mom told me this weekend that he asked her to sing that song to him <3

  136. Dee says...

    This really made me smile. Every night for years I sang que sera sera.
    When I was just a little girl
    I asked my mother
    What will I be
    Will I be pretty
    Will I be rich
    Here’s what she said to me
    Que sera, sera
    Whatever will be, will be
    The future’s not ours to see
    Que sera, sera
    What will be, will be
    When I grew up and fell in love
    I asked my sweetheart
    What lies ahead
    Will we have rainbows
    Day after day
    Here’s what my sweetheart said

    She’s 24 now and even though I am not fond of tattoos inside her arm she has in tiny letters the words que sera sera it totally melted my heart <3

  137. Julia says...

    My mom sang this crazy song to me and I sing it to my kids:

    Which is the way to baby land?
    Anyone can tell…
    Up one flight, to the right,
    Please to ring the bell.

    Who is the queen of baby land?
    Mother kind and sweet.
    And her love, born above,
    Guides their little feet.

  138. Alex says...

    Someone sent me the music video for Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman when my son was about 6 months old and it made me cry. So I started singing it as a lullaby and now my son likes to sing along. It melts my heart. I also often sing In My Life by The Beatles and a made up song about busses and trucks to the tune of Brahms Lullaby.

  139. Lauren E. says...

    For some reason as a middle schooler I started to have a really difficult time sleeping so my mom bought me the Kenny Loggins Return to Pooh Corner CD and I used to fall asleep to that. It is AMAZINGLY beautiful and she still listens to it to this day.

  140. Anne says...

    Re the icelandic lullaby: Well, how do you American folks feel about Rock a Bye Baby, where the cradle drops when the bough breaks?! I never quite got that one, not even as a kid!

    My bilingual kids love a German lullaby with beautiful lyrics (greeting first the night, then the moon and then the dream). However, the melody is haunting and sad. I have no idea why, but it works like a charm!

    • Alex says...

      Yeah I love the melody of Rock a Bye Baby but could never bring myself to sing it to my sweet little baby until I changed the last line to “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall / but Mom will catch baby, cradle and all.” So it’s still weird but at least it has a happy ending?

    • Katharina says...

      That’s the one I sing to my girls. I replace “Anne” with my daughter’s names.

      But before that I sing the lullaby from Pippi Longstockig.
      And before that the first three verses of “Der Mond ist aufgegangen”

      They request them in this specific order.
      But if there is only time for one or one I have to repeat it is “Schlaflied für Anne”.

  141. courtney j says...

    My mother always sang Edelweiss to my brother and me! She still does, actually. He is now 25 and says that will be their mother/son dance at his future wedding. I also sing that to the children I baby sit. My grandmother used to sing an Italian lullaby to my cousin and me that went something like “nina nonna, baby, nina nonna, baby…” and my cousin’s name was Nina so I always would cry and my grandmother had to change the words to “courtney nonna, baby…” when she sang it to me. I completely forgot about that until now, thanks for sparking a sweet memory.

  142. Samantha Klein says...

    My husband and I are both singers, so we bought a big book of children’s songs when my daughter was born. These days (she’s six now) we have all the lullabies memorized so I usually sing 4-5 to my son before bed. I’m talking old school: Golden Slumbers, All the Pretty Little Horses, Winkum Winkum, Lullaby (the Brahms) … and sometimes, if I’m feeling whimsical, Rainbow Connection.

  143. Amy says...

    I sing “To Make you Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan (and Adele :)) and “They Way you Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. Not sure how or why, it is just what stuck

    I also bought this album when I was pregnant and sing Miracle to my first born and Powder Blue to my second.

    My mom also sung this one to me, I couldn’t find if it is a real song or not:
    Good Night Roman (child’s name)
    Good Night Roman
    Good Night Roman, Sandman’s on his way
    Sleep Tight Roman
    Sleep Tight Roman
    Sleep Tight Roman, Let’s call it a day

    • Ellen says...

      There is a really beautiful version of To Make You Feel My Love by Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan. I wanted to walk down the aisle to that, but the church wouldn’t let us :\

  144. Stephanie says...

    For a solid year, I sang Pharrell’s “Happy” to my oldest.

  145. Laura C. says...

    I have customised “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and an old Christmas carol that my mum once sang me when I had a nightmare. Anyway, our own version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” wins it all.

  146. Nicole says...

    I sing “You Can Close Your Eyes” when she’s not demanding “Wheels on the Bus” or “Twinkle Twinkle”

    “Well the sun is surely sinking down
    But the moon is slowly rising
    And this old world must still be spinning ’round
    And I still love you

    So close your eyes
    You can close your eyes, it’s all right
    I don’t know no love songs
    And I can’t sing the blues anymore
    But I can sing this song
    And you can sing this song
    When I’m gone

    Well it won’t be long before another day
    We’re gonna have a good time
    And no one’s gonna take that time away

    You can stay as long as you like
    So close your eyes
    You can close your eyes, it’s all right
    I don’t know no love songs
    And I can’t sing the blues anymore
    But I can sing this song
    And you can sing this song
    When I’m gone”

    • Erin says...

      I LOVE that song.

    • Di says...

      I started singing this song to my granddaughter and she was mesmerized from day 1. Before she was a year old, she would hum along with me until she knew the words:
      Tell me why the stars do shine;
      Tell me why the Ivy Twine;
      Tell me why the sky is so blue;
      And I will Tell you, just why I love you.

      Because God made the stars to shine;
      Because God made the Ivy Twine;
      Because God made the sky so blue;
      Because God made you, that’s why I love you.