Skip to content

Lullaby Your Baby

Lull your baby bye bye with your voice. lullaby your baby

I encourage parents to turn off the music playing turtles and lullaby cd’s and use YOUR own voice to sing to your babies and children at night. No matter what you think of your own singing voice, your child thinks that your voice, coming out of your face, is the most beautiful sight and sound on this planet.

Another bonus of singing is that if you are singing you have to be breathing to do so.  The first thing most of us do when our children start to cry is stop breathing. We quite literally hold our breath. Our emotional regulation is very important in helping our children emotionally regulate at night. We must be breathing to emotionally regulate.

In my study of music I have come to believe that we are all innately musical as children. The infant’s brain is primed to hear and learn language and therefore pick up the pitch, timbre and tonal qualities of the mother’s voice and the native tongue.

There is a theory that this is why the largest majority of  people who poses perfect pitch are Asian. In Chinese, for instance,  there are many words with the exact same spelling and similar pronunciation.The only way to tell the difference in the meaning of such words is to hear and distinguish the difference in the musical pitch of the words. There are very distinct musical qualities to that language in particular. If the pitch goes up on the end the word it means horse, if it goes down in pitch the same word means grandfather. You can quickly see the room for error and hurt feelings.

All mothers across the globe in every culture engage in a newborn form of communication. It is more musical in nature than the spoken word. It even has its own name.  This global language has been termed “motherese or parentese”: It is usually delivered with a “cooing” pattern of intonation different from that of normal adult speech: high in pitch, with many glissando variations that are more pronounced than those of normal speech.

History of the Lullaby

Here is an interesting BBC article that uncovers a bit of back story on the lullaby. I imagined that we have been engaging in this ritual for quite some time but was curious as to how long ago it all began. My suspicion is that it probably predates this artifact found in ancient Babylonia. My other suspicion is that it served a greater purpose and historically, for most of human existence really, the purpose is survival.

The lullaby was a softer and gentler way to tell your baby to be quiet.

“Four millennia ago an ancient Babylonian wrote down a lullaby sung by a mother to her child. It may have got the baby to sleep, but its message is far from soothing – and this remains a feature of many lullabies sung around the world today.

Deeply etched into a small clay tablet, which fits neatly into the palm of a hand, are the words of one of the earliest lullabies on record, dating from around 2,000BC.

The writing is in cuneiform script – one of the first forms of writing – and would have been carefully shaped by a Babylonian scribe, with a stylus made of reed, in what is modern-day Iraq.

It’s a rather menacing lullaby, in which the baby is chastised for disturbing the house god with its crying – and threatened with repercussions.

Frightening themes were typical of lullabies of the era, says Richard Dumbrill, a leading expert on ancient music with the British Museum in London, where the tablet is kept.

“They try to tell the child that he has made a lot of noise, that he woke up the demon, and if he doesn’t shut up right now, the demon will eat him.”

Currently, as we have done with most of the original fairy tales and mythology of yore, we prefer to clean up a lot of the words for our children. I imagine the lessons of life were much harder back in the “survival” days and therefore the stories and lullabies of the time reflected that in a way that children could relate to it.
Therefore, I imagine it is appropriate that the lullaby reflects the culture and time in which a child is growing up.
How to lullaby your baby:
  • Sing to your child as part of a soothing ritual.
  • Find a song you love and that feels soothing to you.
  • When you go to your child in the night to soothe and reassure simply sing the last verse of the lullaby.
  • It is a cue that even non verbal infants can understand.
  • It reminds them where they are and what is happening.
  • It is a soothing and lovely environmental cue to sleep.

If you are still at a loss, how about this lullaby for a more culturally relevant pick.

My 10 and 12 year old loved it!







Back To Top