15 Perfect Songs to Sing Your Little One to Sleep
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?
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.
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.
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”
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.
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
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.
“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
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?
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.
She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
What is your favorite song to sing to your little one?