Update: for a much more scholarly survey, have a look at Rachel Gibson’s dissertation, Musical Parenting: An Ethnographic Account of Musical Interactions of Parents and Young Children.
Anna wanted to know what my friends are singing to their kids for lullabies. I posted the question on Facebook and got about fifty times more responses than I was expecting. Since I now have all this (highly unscientific) data about lullaby trends in 2014, I figured I would write it all up. Here’s what I found.
The most interesting commonality is the song “Hush Little Baby.” Many people report singing it, and my mom sang it to me. But it’s more complicated than that. Jonathan C says:
I made up about 50 couplets of “Hush Little Baby” over many consecutive tortured hours in 2006, and somehow we’ve remembered them all and still use them. It was a good rhyming puzzle to keep me sane at night.
As soon as I read that, I tried it out on Milo, and it was super fun. I recommend it.
Rewriting the lyrics is an especially good idea because, as several people pointed out, the original song is quite depressing. “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a series of unsatisfying things that don’t address your basic emotional need.” A number of other traditional kids’ songs are similarly depressing. My mom sang me “You Are My Sunshine” and “My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean” as a kid, and while their melodies are beautiful, their lyrics are full of pain, loss, and disappointment. And don’t even get me started on “Rockabye Baby.” I sang it to Milo exactly once; never again.
Anyway, here are all the other tunes that my Facebook friends use for lullabies.