How Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other lullabies can drastically improve bedtime
Updated: Sep 12
Why should you sing to your child at bedtime?
One of my most consistent pieces of advice for bedtime routines is to end with songs. My husband and I sing to our girls every night. We choose to stagger bedtime, and divide and conquer. Three has always been my lucky number, so it also happens to be the amount of songs each girl gets sung to individually. And we have three kids, so there's that!
But why do we do this? I know there are families that don’t, and that’s ok! Read below about the many benefits of adding songs to your bedtime routine!
”Lull” literally means “to soothe to sleep
Parents and caregivers have been using lullabies to help their child fall asleep for centuries. It is true that songs help soothe babies to sleep. If it worked then, it can still work now!
Music helps to regulate emotions
When the parent sings, it helps to reduce stress because it promotes a relaxing, calming, and soothing environment. And what better way to create such an ideal bedtime environment. Music can stimulate certain emotions that we associate with different events or stages. If a child has a bad dream, singing their favorite bedtime song helps them transition from the scary feelings to a calmer state. Lullabies promote the ideal emotional atmosphere necessary for a soothing sleep.
Songs create a strong bonding experience
Most of the time a parent/caregiver is holding the child, or cuddling, when they sing lullabies. When a person is embraced in a hug or being held, the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is also known as the love or cuddle hormone, as well as one of the hormones that helps labor and lactation. When oxytocin is released, we are more relaxed, happy, and have positive feelings. I will add that if you are just going through the motions when singing bedtime songs, and trying to rush through them to get them done, the oxytocin will not be flowing. You really have to mean it and enjoy the songs. So choose songs that resonate with you, that you love, or that your baby responds well to. Also, the stronger the bond between parent and child, the more likely the child is to sleep well since they are with someone that they love and trust.
Lullabies introduce vocabulary, stimulate language and cognitive development, and improve learning
Babies learn through lullabies. Children learn best through repetition, and music is well known for its repetitive words, patterns, and rhythms. This repetition also helps children remember words and continue to retain what they're learned. Music also teaches phonological awareness, which can significantly improve communication skills. Since lullabies create a soothing and secure environment, this is also an ideal learning environment! These benefits pertain to toddlers and older kids as well, as the most significant brain development occurs between newborn and 5 years old.
Lullabies can help you fall asleep faster
We have already talked about how lullabies set the calm and soothing mood for an ideal bedtime routine/environment. Due to this relaxing environment, this helps the child then relax. The more relaxed a child’s brain and body are, the easier it is to fall asleep!
Songs cue the end of the bedtime routine
I always use lullabies as the final cue that it’s time for sleep. I don’t say it, I show it. If your baby is in a crib, I highly recommend holding her while singing the bedtime songs. You can sway or rock her as you sing, which also helps promote sleepiness. Once songs are over, give your goodnight hugs and kisses, and put her down in her crib. If your child is in a big kid bed, you can snuggle with her while singing in order to get that oxytocin flowing! Your child will catch on quickly when you continue to use songs as the last cue for bed. It also leaves no wiggle room for stalling, as toddlers are magnificent at using stalling tactics to prolong going to sleep. Providing the structure of a consistent bedtime routine helps the child know what to expect, what comes next, which leads less reluctance to protest.
What lullabies should I choose?
Keep it very simple. As previously mentioned, choose songs that resonate with you, make you feel happy when you sing them, have a calming rhythm, are quiet, ones that your parent(s) sang to you when you were little, etc.
When it comes to sleep, we don’t want any songs that are upbeat and fast. With that being said, if there is a song you absolutely love to sing to your child and you can make it a slower pace, by all means use it! Bedtime songs don’t have to be designated/“normal” lullabies!
When choosing your bedtime song(s), limit it to 1-3 predetermined songs. If you sing 1 song, make sure to stick with that same song every night. If you choose 2 or 3 songs, keep them short with up to 2 verses.
Here are some of the popular or well known lullabies, and then some you may not have thought of until now!
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Row Row Row Your Boat
Frére Jacques (Are You Sleeping?)
You Are My Sunshine
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Jack & Jill
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Hush Little Baby
Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)
Did you know that ABC’s, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Baa Baa Black Sheep all have the same tune?! They originated from a song composed by Mozart.
I am available to help your family get the sleep they deserve. I encourage you to follow me on Instagram for more tips and tricks! Schedule your free 15 minute call to be one step closer to accomplishing your sleep goals.
Wondering what other families have experienced after working with me? Read before + after stories HERE!