The What, When And Where Of Bedtime Lullabies!

Lullabies, those soothing hypnotic songs sung to babies, have been around for a long time – and I mean a very long time. The first record dates back a staggering 4,000 years to the time of the ancient babalonyans, and who can say whether there were lullabies before this.

These tunes are found in all cultures, and are strikingly similar in both their musical construction and their content. This article takes a look at the fascinating world of the lullaby, and lists the top 5 American ones – I wonder how many you will recognize??

Lullabies – Primary And Secondary Goals

Of course, soothing baby to sleep is the primary objective with these songs. The fact that they are used in cultures from China to sub-Saharan Africa (and everywhere between) shows just how effective they are. When you start to look at the words contained in lullabies, a secondary purpose becomes apparent…

A common theme in lullaby content throughout the world is a warning to the baby. This can take obvious forms – you had better stop crying or a monster will get you. Or it can take more subtle forms about waking up spirits. While I get the historical context of these songs, I do have to wonder whether the babies are old enough to actually understand the warnings in the lyrics… Maybe those are for the benefit of the adults singing them, and just having mom sing a soothing song is all the child needs to fall asleep.

Lullabies – Common Construction Throughout The World

When you look at the musical construction of lullabies from around the world, these are strikingly similar – transcending cultures and geographies. If you know about music theory then terms like 6/8 and triple meter time. If not then it is enough to grasp the hypnotic and soothing rhythm within these tunes, the baby will often respond in time with the ‘beat’ with squeals or coos of their own – showing the solid connection between adult and child that the lullaby creates.

Many cot toys include melodic tunes based on lullabies. These do miss out the personal connection, but can demonstrably fascinate, distract or sooth babies at different times.

What Are The 5 Most Common American Lullabies?

1 – Rock A Bye Baby: No surprise to see this at number one for me at least… though I often wonder about the part where the cradle falls out of the tree!

2 – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: Not only a hugely popular lullaby, but a question many of us grow up asking as adults too!

3 – Bye Baby Bunting: Nice rhythm for this one, and always the hope of some nice warm lamb skin at the end!

4 – Hush Little Baby: This might well have soothed me off to sleep many times as a child, nowadays I am still pestering my dad for that mockingbird!

5 – Itsy Bitsy Spider: Not just a lullaby, this song shows that perseverance is key to a successful life – especially where drainpipe climbing skills are concerned!

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