Lullabies have been the muse that lures babes to sleep for, well, a very very long time. It is quite natural to sing to a baby. Almost every culture has some form of a lullaby. Lullabies help promote sleep, increase bonding, boost confidence and trust (part of the rhythm, something to anticipate or something expected), and can be soothing to a restless babe.
With our daughter, we sang spirituals and an English song called Ten Green Bottles. It was difficult to sing to Gabriel in the early months because he was colicky and the only thing that soothed him was shhhhing. Now that he isn’t crying all the time, I have been using lullabies to soothe him during his bedtime routine and prepare him for that wonderful slumber. This also helps me keep the routine straight. This way, even if it gets a little off track, I can keep the same basic rhythm leading to bedtime because it is guided by song. This doesn’t exactly put him to sleep every time, but it is a start!
Here is the rhythm I use for now (at 4 months):
- Short song to announce bath time (I wrote).
- After bath, during massage and dressing I sing All the Pretty Little Horses. I usually end up improvising some and changing words until we are finished.
- During his bottle, which is the only time I don’t nurse him, I sing Edelweiss. It’s not a typical lullaby, but it is very soothing and lovely to hum.
- After he has finished eating, I rock him and walk around singing the spirituals. Usually Swing Low, Sweet Chariot or Goin’ Down That Lonesome Road, residuals from when we sang Briony to sleep. If it goes on longer, I bust out the Ten Green Bottles.
Since using these songs, I am better able to keep a consistent routine. This is part of our sleep plan and part of our colic recovery. More on that in other posts.