A Little More Wisdom

A Little More Wisdom

Lullabies work because their simple melodies and repetitive structures provide just enough stimulation for baby’s brain to pay attention and simultaneously relax.

Why Are Traditional Lullabies Still the Best?

Written by
Cathy Hale
on April 30th, 2018

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If you grew up with parents that sang you lullabies as a child, chances are you still remember the lyrics word for word, even if you haven’t heard them in 20 years. When my son was an infant, I sang lullabies to him. My singing voice was terrible, but the songs still soothed him.

One day, my husband was holding our fussy baby and he was frazzled because he couldn’t calm him down. I was like, “Just sing him a lullaby!” My hubby started singing my son a Tom Petty song. I laughed saying, “That’s not a lullaby!” My hubby admitted he didn’t recall the words to one old school lullaby – not Rock-A-Bye Baby or Hush Little Baby or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We laughed and laughed. It was one of those memorable parenting moments.

In our technology-filled world, there are a million new ways to soothe your baby, but what you might not know is the good old traditional lullabies are still the best.

The history of lullabies

Traditional lullabies have been around for hundreds of years. Did you know the first-ever lullaby was etched in stone in 2,000 BC? The origin of lullabies and their odd lyrics are interesting, but what’s really cool is scientific studies have proven that lullabies do indeed work to soothe a cranky baby and lull them to sleep. In fact, many Neonatal Intensive Care Units throughout the US play lullabies to help preemies eat, sleep and heal. 

What makes a lullaby unique

The reason traditional lullabies are so revered is because they are entertaining enough to keep your baby’s attention, but not too interesting to distract her from going to sleep. That’s not an easy balance to achieve. Most lullabies only contain about 5 different notes in a 6/8 meter. The songs may seem a little bit sad or melancholy, but that’s the way they’re supposed to be.

Communicating baby-style

Scholars agree that lullabies enhance the bond between baby and mom. When you’re gently rocking your baby and singing to her, she’s listening. This is a way of communicating. Even though your baby doesn’t understand the words, the act of singing builds essential language skills and helps her develop her senses.

Sweet security

One of the most meaningful things about lullabies are that they give your baby a feeling of security. As you sing your baby to sleep, she hears your voice and feels your presence which helps her relax because she feels safe. In addition to building trust and confidence in your relationship, lullabies create a peaceful, safe environment that boosts your baby’s wellbeing.

And if you don’t know the words…

Research shows that you don’t have to sing the words to lullabies for them to work their magic. If you don’t know the words, humming a tune works too. Lullabies and ballads still do the trick for a fussy baby, even without words. The benefits of bonding, security and safety still exists, even if you sing off-tune.

Which lullaby have you sung a million times? Let us know your baby’s favorite song in the comments section of our Facebook page.

Cathy Hale

About Cathy Hale

Cathy Hale is a nationally recognized writer and lifestyle blogger.

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