Every parent has their own bedtime routine they swear by. From keeping their kids on a strict schedule to cradling them until they fall asleep to make sure they don't rummage through their toys at night, there's no perfect way to lull your kids to the land of nod. But, finding a lullaby that calms them down and soothes their racing thoughts can be a quick way to lights out. No two parents share the same favorite lullaby, because there's just so many good ones.
Classic Lullaby Songs for Babies
When asked what songs were sung to you as a kid, chances are high that they were one of these classics. In some cases, these songs have lulled kiddos to sleep for hundreds of years, making them tried-and-true options. After all, if they're not broken, why fix them?
This nursery rhyme turned lullaby is so easy to remember and sing, but it definitely has some disturbing imagery at its heart. While we don't advise you to look too closely at this 19th century tale exploring a child falling through trees, we recommend it to getting your kid to sleep in a pinch.
Hush Little Baby
A lot of lullabies just speak about love and nature, and the nature of love, but "Hush Little Baby" offers a unique departure with its lyrics. Parents and caregivers can make lovely promises to care for the baby in many ways by singing them this song. And it's long enough that you won't have to sing 20 passes of it just to get the baby to finally nod off.
The only non-English song on this list, "Frère Jacques" is a quaint little lullaby about a friar who sleeps through the morning bells. It's short and quippy, with a super catchy tune that you won't forget anytime soon. Although, you'll probably tire of it after a while. So, it might be a good idea to get your baby used to you humming along.
You might know Brahms' Lullaby better as "Lullaby and Goodnight" for its opening lyrics. Written by the famous composer, Johannes Brahms, for his dear friend's second child, the song's been passed down from generation to generation. It's soft and sweet, and perfect for any fussy baby you're trying to train to sleep through the night.
Contemporary Lullabies for Babies
You might've grown up on the classics, but everything could do with a remix once in a while. Don't feel like you have to stick to lullabies written long before your time. There are great options from modern television, music, and movies to choose from if you've got contemporary tastes.
Billy Joel's Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)
We know you didn't expect to find Billy Joel on a list of baby lullabies, but his 1993 song perfectly bridges the gap between 'real' music and baby music. Joel was inspired by his own daughter Alexa Ray when composing this song for his fourth album. It's slow and sweet, with all of the musical complexity that Joel's known for.
Winnie-the-Pooh's Theme Song
Winnie-the-Pooh fascinates toddlers because of its heartwarming characters and simple plots. The opening theme to Disney's version is perfectly paced to be sung at bedtime. Slow down the original jaunty tune a bit, and when your baby's eyes keep fluttering closed, you can drift off to humming about the Hundred Acre Wood.
Dumbo's Baby Mine
Some of Disney's saddest movies don't feature humans at all, and Dumbo is one of these animal-centric films that pulls at your heartstrings. One particular sequence where Dumbo's own mother rocks him to sleep with a beautiful lullaby called "Baby Mine" has been replicated by mothers around the world. And you can replicate it, too.
The Beatles' Blackbird
The Beatles are legendary for a reason, and they've got a song perfect for any occasion. Far too many would work as a baby's lullaby, but we love "Blackbird" because of how light and airy it is. This acoustic tune leans into its folk roots and makes it a great easy song to soothe your fussy kiddo.
Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World
Not contemporary in the conventional sense, this 1967 ballad from famed musician and trumpeter Louis Armstrong invokes beautiful imagery and a wanderlust for the world. If you want your kid to grow up with an appreciation for music legends and an eye for the beauty in life, start singing them this song from the moment they're born.
John Denver's Sunshine on My Shoulders
When it comes to lullabies, you really want to stick with songs that have a simple melody; you're not looking to Whitney Houston your way through bedtime, that's for sure. John Denver is well-known for his ballads talking about nature, and "Sunshine on My Shoulders" is one you and your baby will get lost in.
Earl Grant's (at) the End (of the Rainbow)
Earl Grant croons his way through this smooth jazz single from 1956. This song is full of storytelling, making it a musical storybook of sorts. Finish your evening off by cuddling up to your baby and telling them about how your "love will go on till the end of time."
Doris Day's On Moonlight Bay
With her sparkling smile and strong, resonating voice, Doris Day was meant to be a star. One of her most popular records, "On Moonlight Bay," was written for the 1951 movie of the same name. This ballad showcases her clear and strong, though sweet, voice, and converts fabulously into a lullaby.
Jimmy Durante's The Glory of Love
An oldie but goodie if there ever was one, "The Glory of Love" was first recorded in 1936, but it's Jimmy Durante's version that suits lullaby singing the best. His older voice carries a grandfatherly weight that makes it a great choice for all sorts of family members to sing their youngsters to sleep with.
Nat King Cole's Smile
Nat King Cole is one of the most famous crooners to come out of the 20th century. Every Christmas, you hear his hit, "The Christmas Song" but a lesser-known classic is his 1954 song, "Smile." You can't help but be hypnotized by his even baritone throughout the song, and your baby won't last a minute against your best rendition.
Cinderella's A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes
Classic Disney was chock full of great lullaby material, and Cinderella's "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" is a perfect example. It's got a great message and a lovely lilting quality to it that you'll be able to remember it when you're half asleep and trying to calm your baby down for the night again.
This early Elvis classic is heart-wrenchingly tender, and although it's made to be spoken between lovers, it speaks of a love so beautiful that you can't help but want to share. The slow, even tempo and achievable vocal range mean that everyone can take a crack at singing it this without worrying about voice cracks or losing their place.
The Beatles' Hey Jude
With their impressive catalog, you can't just have one Beatles song on a list full of great lullabies. The story goes that Paul McCartney wrote the song "Hey Jude" for Julian Lennon, a fellow bandmate's young son. Sing your baby to sleep with visions of strength and hope with one of the Beatles' best.
The Mamas & The Papas' Dream a Little Dream of Me
This acoustic single from the popular '60s folk group was just one of their many hits. If you don't feel confident replicating Mama Cass's impressive resonance, you've got the hypnotic background vocals of nonsense words to guide you through and keep your infant entertained for hours in bed.
Nina Simone's Lilac Wine
Nina Simone is one of the greatest musicians of the 1960s. Her raw voice is unparalleled, and every word that drips from her mouth is full of emotion. In 1966, she released "Lilac Wine" which is beautifully haunting and sticks with you for days after you've listened. There's no better way to comfort your baby than with Simone's arrangement and your own voice.
Debby Boone's You Light Up My Life
Debby Boone's soaring notes can intimidate the best singers, but anyone can confidently approach this gentle song. Her song, "You Light Up My Life" rocked the '70s and everyone's favorite late-night infomercials today. You might as well take advantage of the voice you'll end up hearing at 1am, and duet with her to lull your baby to sleep.
What You Can't Say, Sing
Babies don't understand your words in the way you want them to, but they certainly enjoy hearing your voice. So, what you can't say to them, you can sing them at night and try to soothe them to sleep. Lullabies for babies don't have to be hundreds of years old to do their job. So, pick out a song that means something to you, and one that you enjoy hearing because once you pick it, your kiddo won't settle for anything else.