Millennials Aren’t Singing Baby Lullabies and Science Says We Need To Start
According to a new report, millennial parents are super guilty of doing (or should I say not doing?) this one rather alarming thing for our children:
We aren't singing them enough lullabies. The report, admittedly out of the U.K. and not necessarily totally the same as American parents, found that unlike our parental predecessors, millennial parents just aren't that into singing lullabies to their kids.
I know, I know, you're probably just as shocked as I am, but reports don't lie, people. The report didn't set out to paint millennial parents as lullaby-hating parents but instead was examining the lullaby habits of parents with children under the age of 5, in general. They found that only 1 in 5 parents with children under age 5 reported singing lullabies at bedtime; but those parents that did say they sang bedtime lullabies also happened to primarily all be over the age of 45. (Sidenote: quick shout out to all of you parents who are over 45 with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, because dang, I was tired at 22 when I became a parent!)
The survey didn't exactly go into all of the reasons behind the lullaby lull, but we can make a few educated guesses as to why millennial parents just aren't that into singing. Perhaps the influx of electronic devices as something to do with it? If we have music on demand for virtually every song ever sang throughout humanity, is it really practical to waste time singing it on our own? Or maybe younger parents are just so exhausted from trying to survive in a world not really built yet for two working parents that they can't manage to croak out a lackluster lullaby when all they want is to go the frick to sleep. Or, maybe even just as understandable, parents are so overstimulated with media day in and day out that they just look forward to the silence of cuddling a baby at the end of the day instead of filling it with more noise. I don't know–just my own educated guesses here.
As a millennial mom, I can honestly that I haven't really sung a lullaby to my kids, aside from a few occasions when they were babies. First of all, I am creeped out by some of the traditional kid lullabies–Ring-Around-the-Rosy, anyone?– or that one about the baby cradle falling down. I mean, really, down will come baby, cradle and all? What does that even mean? I just don't like the sound of it. And second of all, I'm a terrible singer and seeing as I hoped to soothe my children to sleep at night and not horrify them with creepy songs or my even creepier voice, I opted the ol' nurse-them-to-sleep trick as babies and skip-through-bedtime-stories when they were older. Worked like a charm.
Interestingly enough, however, science is totally on the side of the lullaby. Singing to children has been scientifically reported to soothe children before surgery, calming them and slowing down their heart rates, lowering their anxiety, and even reducing their pain levels before they headed into heart surgery. And the effects carried even after surgery, with the children displaying decreased signs of pain too. Other studies have found that singing songs, especially those with rhymes like many popular lullabies, helps boost children's language development and improves their reading skills too, because it attunes their ear to listen to patterns and predict upcoming sounds. And still another study basically found that singing songs to babies is the #1 thing you can do for them and it calms them twice as long as just regular old plain-jane talking. I mean, how rude for those of us not blessed with a voice.
Bottom line: singing seems to have a super positive effect on babies' brains, so if you can find it in yourself to muster up the strength to belt some show tunes for your little one tonight, you should go for it. As for the rest of us, maybe we can learn to be content with a little bit more humming, playing some of our favorite music on the Alexa or Google Home, and hoping that the sing-song cadence of all those Dr. Seuss books we've read can count as “singing” too.
What about you? Do you sing to your baby or do you prefer reading and talking?