15 Perfect Songs to Sing Your Little One to Sleep

15 perfect bedtime songs
Image via Sara McTigue

Of course you can stick with the standards — “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Hush, Little Baby” still work just fine — but sometimes it's nice to try something a little different. Heck, the secret to calming my oldest daughter's colicky screams was repeated refrains of the Oscar Mayer songs (My baloney has a first name … AND Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener …).

Sometimes you need to mix it up. So next time you're singing your little one to sleep or trying to calm those fussy cries, why not try one of these 15 options?

“Baby Mine”

You might remember this one from tearful viewings of Dumbo. There are several versions of the song, but my favorite rendition is from Alison Krauss. Unfortunately, she isn't available for nightly visits, but you can always sing along with the CD.

{ MORE: 6 Tips for a Better Family Bedtime Routine }

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.

“Beautiful Boy”

One of many lovely songs from the talented John Lennon, this one celebrates his young son.

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is what happens to you,
While you're busy making other plans.

“Butterfly Fly Away”

Back when Miley was still Hannah Montana, she performed this sweet song with her dad.

Caterpillar in the tree,
How you wonder who you'll be.
Can't go far but you can always dream.

Wish you may and wish you might;
Don't you worry, hold on tight.
I promise you that there will come a day;
Butterfly fly away.

“Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight”

The title says it all. You may remember the performance of this one from the movie Three Men & a Baby, but it was originally performed by The Spaniels, back in 1954.

{ MORE: 5 Tips to Get Your Kids to Bed So You Both Can Get the Rest You Need! }

Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go.
I hate to leave you, but I really must say,
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight.

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“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

I'll never forget hearing Judy Garland belt this one out in The Wizard of Oz, but I also have a soft spot for the lovely ukelele-accompanied version by Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo'ole.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high;
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

“Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)”

This Radney Foster song, as performed by the Dixie Chicks, touches on those sweet, fleeting moments of childhood.

The rocket racer's all tuckered out;
Superman's in pajamas on the couch.
Goodnight moon, we'll find the mouse,
And I love you.

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Image via Sara McTigue

“My Favorite Things”

It's no secret that The Sound of Music is one of my favorite things, as is this song, performed by the incomparable Julie Andrews.

As a bonus, her performance as Mary Poppins includes another wonderful bedtime song: “Stay Awake.”

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

“Ripple”

A poetic classic from Robert Hunter and the Grateful Dead.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

“Rockabilly Lullaby”

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Known in my house as “The Mermaid Song,” this is only one of many favorites from the kids series The Backyardigans.

Rest my little darling,
You've had a busy day.
The sun is a falling,
And it's time for me to say.

Hush (hush) hush little mermaid goodnight;
(Hush) hush little mermaid sleep tight.

“Sweet Child O' Mine”

Take out the guitars and drums, and you've got a lullaby-worthy lyric from Guns N' Roses.

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She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky.

“Moon, Moon, Moon”

Even the album version performed by The Laurie Berkner Band foregoes instruments to focus on the soothing words and harmonies.

Moon, moon, moon, shining bright,
Moon, moon, moon, my nightlight.
Moon, moon, moon, I can see,
Moon, moon, moon, you're taking care of me.

“Lullaby”

From a full album of great options, Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George, our top Jack Johnson pick is his simple song with Matt Costa.

When you're so lonely lying in bed,
Night's closed it's eyes, but you can't rest your head.
Everyone's sleeping all through the house;
You wish you could dream but forgot to somehow
Sing this lullaby to yourself.

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“Forever Young”

Bob Dylan delivers on the hope that, while babies might not truly stay Forever Young, they'll find the life we dream of for them.

{ MORE: Sometimes Babies Just Don't Sleep and That's Not Your Fault }

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth,
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young.

“Three Little Birds”

The first song my oldest learned to sing, with a message I hope she'll remember, from Bob Marley.

Don't worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing's gonna be alright.

“You Are My Sunshine”

Around since the 1930s, the song has a fascinating history and has become part of American culture. In my head, I stick with the first verse and sing along to this one with Johnny Cash.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine;
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

{ MORE: The Aftermath of Co-Sleeping: How Does it Affect Children? }

What is your favorite song to sing to your little one?

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15 Perfect Songs to Sing Your Little One to Sleep

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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15 comments

  1. Profile photo of E E says:

    Our son loves being sung to– not even just at night, he asks for songs all day long. Of course, I have to give my voice a break, so we started recording songs for him to listen to, and now we’re putting them up on YouTube if anyone wants to share them with their kids 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyuwsXtz3I5fJqsXILa0rMQ

  2. Profile photo of Reo Reo says:

    The first night in the hospital with my daughter saw both my husband and I humming to her at various intervals. Surprisingly we were both humming the same tune (Hush My Child) though neither of us had said anything to the other. Fast forward a few weeks and we were still humming it, but the problem was I’ve never been able to remember the lyrics to that song. I wanted to be able to do more for her than just hum, plus my sanity wouldn’t have been able to take doing that continuously, I worked and came up with lyrics to the tune with five little verses. The great thing is I can rearrange, cut out some, or add a bit of extra humming between verses depending on how fast she goes out and it still works fine. I also ended up writing another little ditty that’s short and upbeat for when she’s fussy, it helps to break her out of the mood and make her laugh again.

  3. Profile photo of Mary Mary says:

    One stormy night, with lightning crashing and rain pounding on her nursery windows, my then 3-month-old was having a rough night. I turned on Brahm’s Lullabye with her mobile and sat in the dark rocking her against my chest. She was fussy and loathe to sleep. The music gave me a counterpoint and lyrics came easily. That night I wrote her a special song. She has remembered every word and note and has sung it to all three of my beautiful grandsons. When the last was born in March, Mika and Stephynn were sitting with Andrew and they started singing Rachael’s song to their baby brother. Joy!

  4. Profile photo of Nicole Nicole says:

    Beatles songs make good lullabies as well. Hey Jude and Let it Be have worked for me.

  5. Profile photo of Nicole Nicole says:

    Baby Mine is a great one, though I use Bette Midler’s version from Beaches. I also like Billy Joel’s Goodnight My Angel. Oddly enough, my son loves Queen, and no idea why. But I can put on their music or sing one of their songs and he falls right to sleep.

  6. Profile photo of jesica jesica says:

    Lullabies that I remember as a child, “all the pretty little horses”, “lullaby and goodnight”, and “puff the magic dragon”(that one especially, because my uncle learned how to play it on his guitar and would play and sing to me when I stayed with him until I fell asleep). My husband sings “skinamarinky-do”(a big bedtime favorite around here), pooh corner, and rainbow connection(that’s our newbie’s favorite). So so many great lullabies out there! Oh and so many Beatles songs, “all my loving”, ” I wanna hold your hand”, and “eight days a week” are some of my children’s favorites.

  7. my daughter is 2 and I regularly sing Baby Mine and You are my Sunshine to her along with Edelweiss and Tomorrow. Now I have even more songs to try! Thank you!

  8. Profile photo of Wendy Wendy says:

    Thank you for the great suggestions for new material. Since he was born, I have sang Calico Skies by Paul McCartney to him: “It was written that I would love you from the moment I opened my eyes. And the morning when I first saw you, gave me life under calico skies. I will hold you for as long as you like; I’ll love you for the rest of my life.” He relaxes in my arms and settles right down…he’s now 2 and a half.

  9. Profile photo of Jeannie Jeannie says:

    I’m on here as an expecting grandma, and was surprised to see song #11 – Sweet Child O’ Mine, Guns N’ Roses. I sang my daughter to sleep to that tune when she was a baby in 1990, and my family thought I was crazy (for singing it to her) back then! LOL She still loves the song! I also sang You Are My Sunshine, and a few others.

  10. Profile photo of Lindsey Lindsey says:

    I was sung you are my sunshine when I was little. I grew to like it. It has a lot of sentimental values to the song. I will sing it to my baby.

  11. Profile photo of Cassandra Cassandra says:

    My favorite songs my mom sang to me when I was child and i plan on singing to my child are :
    Corner of the Sky by Pippin
    One Tin Soldier by The Original Caste.
    I also plan on singing “No One Like You” (I like Your Eyes) by John Denver and Imagine by John Lennon.

  12. Profile photo of Angela Angela says:

    Loved your article. I would have never thought of these other songs. I know my Little Man loves when I sing the counting song and the ABC’s. Yes he like hearing twinkle, twinkle little star and hush little baby as well as rock-a-bye.

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