Lullaby songs

Singing bedtime lullabies is a great way of soothing and bonding with your baby, especially to help your little one wind down before bedtime. As your baby grows, you can also sing these lullaby songs together. Every baby is different, so there are no best baby lullabies that work for every child – in fact, you might need to try a few different songs before you find the one that really gets your child yawning. For inspiration, here are some classic lullabies for kids as well as a handful of songs from film and popular music that could also be used as lullabies.

'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'

Why we love this lullaby: With song lyrics based on an early nineteenth-century poem by Jane Taylor and music based on ‘Ah! vous dirai-je, maman’ (a French melody from 1761), ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ is a perennial favourite. The words encourage dreaming, wonder and imagination — all the things a small child might experience when gazing up at the night sky. As your baby gets older and starts mastering the necessary motor skills, you could also start doing the hand movements to this popular song together. If you don’t remember them from your own childhood, just search online for some examples.

'Cradle Song’ (Brahms’s Lullaby) or ‘Wiegenlied'

Why we love this lullaby: Another classic lullaby, ‘Cradle Song’ (also commonly known by its first line, ‘Lullaby and goodnight’) was composed by Johannes Brahms and published in 1868 as ‘Wiegenlied’ (German for ‘cradle song’). Brahms wrote it for a former sweetheart on the birth of her second child. The original German lyrics are based on a folk poem. Translated into English, it’s just as beautiful, encouraging your little one to lie down, rest and fall asleep.

'All the Pretty Little Horses'

Why we love this lullaby: Most likely African American in origin, ‘All the Pretty Little Horses’ (also commonly known as ‘Hush-a-Bye’) promises that your baby will have ‘all the pretty horses’ when he or she wakes up the next morning. The version of the music in the video above is both touching and haunting, but this lullaby song has been recorded by many popular artists (and even inspired a novel of the same name). So, if you prefer another version go ahead and sing it that way or just play it from a recording! You might also find it relaxing yourself to sing your baby to sleep with this song.

'All Through the Night'

Why we love this lullaby: This Welsh song is a well-known hymn, but it also doubles as a lullaby song. It’s sometimes also considered a Christmas carol. Its melody was first published in 1784, and the most commonly used song lyrics were later translated into several languages, including English.

The lyrics encourage your little one to go to sleep, promising protection from guardian angels and loved ones.

'When You Wish Upon a Star'

Why we love this lullaby: This tender song appears in the classic Disney animated film Pinocchio, which was originally released in 1940. It’s one of the highest-ranked Disney film songs and won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song. The lyrics are easy to remember. This song is all about reaching for the stars, following your heart, and dreaming big.

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'Baby Mine'

Why we love this lullaby: From the 1941 Disney film Dumbo (and also featuring in the 2019 remake), ‘Baby Mine’ is sung by Dumbo’s mother, a caged circus elephant, as she cradles her baby with her trunk. The tune and the lyrics are perfect as a lullaby song, reinforcing the bond between parent and child and the comforting feeling of being taken care of and watched over.

'You Are My Sunshine'

Why we love this lullaby: Although originally a country song and not a lullaby, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ works very well as a song for singing your baby to sleep because of its moving lyrics. It’s considered one of the most-covered songs in American popular music, having been recorded by over 350 artists and translated into at least 30 languages.

'Over the Rainbow'

Why we love this lullaby: This tune from The Wizard of Oz has become one of the most famous film songs for a reason: It’s heartfelt and it’s about making dreams come true. Composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg, the original version of the song won an Academy Award in 1939.

'Stay Awake'

Why we love this lullaby: From the endearing film Mary Poppins, this lullaby, written by the Sherman brothers, is sung by the incomparable nanny Mary Poppins. Mary can’t get the Banks children to go to sleep after an activity-packed day, so she uses a bit of reverse psychology in this song. It certainly works wonders on Jane and Michael as their eyelids get heavy and they eventually fall peacefully asleep. For fans of the film, this might be a fun lullaby to sing your baby to sleep with.

The Skye Boat Song (‘Speed Bonnie Boat’)

Why we love this lullaby: This well-known Scottish song about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to the Isle of Skye has a gentle, yet lilting cadence that can soothe the most wide-awake of babies to sleep. You don’t need Gaelic roots to enjoy singing this classic folk song to your bonny lass or lad, but it could certainly be a great way of helping to keep your family heritage alive if you do.

The Bottom Line

We hope these ideas for lullabies inspire you to warm up your vocal cords. Singing a lullaby song or playing music to your little one at bedtime can make for a wonderful bonding experience as well as helping your baby get off to sleep. If you’re shy about your singing voice, remind yourself that your baby is not judging you and is comforted by the sound of your voice. You could also sometimes play music softly from a recording at bedtime, either to sing along to or give your voice a rest every so often.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.