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The 5 most popular lullabies every parent should know

Nothing is more special and beautiful than singing your baby a lullaby as they fall asleep. The soothing sound of your voice helps gently lull your little one to sleep and helps them feel safe and secure. Luckily, you don’t need to have the best voice around to sing lullabies.

Lullabies are designed for anyone to sing and they have sweet lyrics that are easy to remember. Parents should know the most popular lullabies so they can sing their baby to sleep when a mini concert is called for. In case you’ve forgotten them since you were a kid, let’s go over 5 lullabies all parents should have in their back pocket.

Woman and man holding child in crib
Dann Tardif/Getty Images

Rock-a-Bye Baby

One of the first songs you probably think of when you hear the word “lullaby” is this classic. “Rock-a-Bye Baby” is a super-popular lullaby that everyone knows at least some part of. This song may sound like it has a dark ending when the lyrics mention “when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.”

But really, these lyrics are just meant to go along with the actions of putting your baby to sleep in their crib. At least, that is going to be our interpretation of it. Regardless, it is still a super-catchy and gentle song to sing.

“Rock-a-bye baby
on the tree top.
When the wind blows
the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
the cradle will fall.
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all.”

A father reading a book to their young child.

Hush, Little Baby

Another nursery rhyme you know (at least partly) is “Hush, Little Baby.” It is about all the things that the mother is going to get her baby so that he/she is happy. This song is essentially telling your baby that you are going to take care of them, no matter what and do everything you can to make them happy.

It ends with the adorable lyrics of “you’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.” If that isn’t a tearjerker, then we don’t know what is. Check out this lovely lullaby to know all of the promises to buy your babe things if they would just go to sleep.

“Hush, little Baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat,
And if that billy goat get cross,
Mama’s gonna buy you a rocking horse.
And if that rocking horse turns over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and a cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.”

A mother reading her young child a bedtime story.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

This song may not have any particularly loving or sweet lyrics, but it sure is catchy. “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is essentially just a fun little nursery rhyme that you can sing to your baby whenever it’s bedtime. It is cute and it’s super short, so it is great for a right-there-but-just-needs-one-more-song sleepy baby.

“Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.”

A mother reading her little baby in their crib a story.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

One that everyone should know is “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This song is actually based on a much longer poem, but it was shortened to an easy-to-remember lullaby. Not only are the lyrics quick and make memorization simple, but it has the same melody as the “Alphabet Song.” So if you do freeze and forget how it goes, just sing your ABCs.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!”

A father singing a song to his baby.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Another oldie but goodie is “Row, Row Your Boat.” This song has a fun ring to it, but it can be delivered in a soft way to gently guide your little one to sleep. It is quite repetitive when it comes to lyrics, but we’re sure that your baby won’t mind. We can’t promise the same for you, though.

“Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream”
*(Repeat three more times)

As you can see, there are so many great, classic lullabies to sing to your baby. You can change them up each night and see which ones your baby loves the best. Babies are more aware of the songs you sing than you might think. They have good taste and will let you know if the song you’re singing is not their favorite.

Luckily, there are many soothing choices, so you’ll be able to find the one that your baby adores. It may feel like you’ve sang each one about a hundred times, and you will, but your baby will love each time like it’s the first.

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