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The 5 most popular lullabies every parent should know

These popular lullabies need to be in your bedtime lineup

A mother singing to her little baby
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Nothing is more calming and serene than singing your baby a sweet lullaby to help them fall asleep. The soothing sound of your voice singing a familiar tune can help gently lull your little one to sleep and help them feel safe and secure at the same time. Even though you may not love the sound of your singing voice, it will be music to your little one’s ears.

Lullabies are for anyone to sing and they have simple lyrics that are easy to remember. However, just in case you’ve forgotten some of the most popular lullabies that have been around since you were a kid, let’s go over five lullabies all parents should have in their back pocket for bedtime.

Woman and man holding child in crib
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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, or enough of to at least hum the melody.

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 treetop.
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 singing a song to his baby.
Eggeeggjiew/Adobe Stock

Hush, Little Baby

Another common nursery rhyme is Hush, Little Baby. It is about all the things the mother is going to get her baby so they are happy. This song is essentially telling your baby that you are going to take care of them, no matter what, and do everything in your power to make them happy.

It ends with the adorable lyrics “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 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 gets 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 little baby in their crib a story
kryzhov/Shutterstock / a

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 to sing to your baby whenever it’s bedtime. It’s cute and super short, so it’s 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 young child a bedtime story
kate_sept2004/Getty Images / Getty

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 be an easy-to-remember lullaby. Not only are the lyrics short to 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!”

Father sings lullaby to child

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)

Toddler playing guitar and singing with their parents
Pepsco Studios/Shutterstock

What do all lullabies have in common?

Whether you choose to sing any of these classic lullabies to your little one or you like to make up your own songs, there are some commonalities to all lullabies. Lullabies are soothing to babies because the even tempo of the music is similar to the mother’s heartbeat, which can help calm a fussy or cranky infant. Most lullabies are in 6/8 time, mimicking a rocking or cradling motion, which we often find ourselves doing while singing. Lullabies can be traditional or consist of nonsensical lyrics because it’s typically the tone and tempo that all lullabies have in common. Whatever you’re singing to your baby, it will be sure to be soothing and provide comfort.

There are so many great classic lullabies to sing to your baby. 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 sung each one about a hundred times, and you will, but your baby will love each time like it’s the first. Cherish the time your precious nugget wants you to sing to them because before you know it, they’ll be a teenager begging you to stop with the cringy singing.

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