It is remarkably instinctive to talk and (attempt to) sing to your child. However, it is also unfortunate that when you are finally in the position of needing to get your child to sleep it is likely that your sleep-deprived mind can barely remember how to string sentences together, nevermind what lyrics go with which tune.
However, I’ve been lucky enough to firstly be spoilt with the suggestions of music, and secondly know lots of talented people in my life to inspire me. Below I have listed some of my current favourites, even if just to hum, and they tend to be working remarkably well so far for calming down my little one.
Jesse Duley, Woodenboy (album)
I’ve known Jesse for a number of years but definitely hadn’t given his music as much time as I should have. This album deserves to be listed as a collection because you could sit happily rocking your child to sleep night after night perfectly relaxed. Originally thought of as amazing calming labour music (and loved by the midwives), this continues to be our first stop when we recognise those first cries of our tired child. Personally my favourite song is Praise, My Soul (Bear’s favourite is Pound to Pound) but there are so many gorgeous acoustic options I tend to just let the whole album play through.
Emily Portman, Hushabye Birdie Croon
Suggested by a friend and Godmother to Cub a long time ago, this is one of many beautiful options in The Lullaby Project with Opera North. Due to my love of Scotland and the gorgeous melody this became a favourite that I can hum over and over when I’ve forgotten the words to everything and it still sounds lovely. It’s well worth checking out the others too as there is so much variety and beauty.
Dad’s Songs (various)
My Dad has introduced me to some strange, amusing and normally rude sea-shanty-like songs, most from a young age. Although this isn’t one album, artist, or even style they fit into a history of music in my Dad’s life and therefore can’t be split up particularly well. As Pops he decided extremely young was the best age to start learning these. When she’s lying on his shoulder this variety includes Daisy, Daisy (with a number of variations in the lyrics), I Have A Dream, Johnny Was A Parachutist (if you don’t know either find my Dad and he’ll sing it, or avoid it as it’ll be safer for your peace of mind), D-I-V-O-R-C-E and a number of others. In these cases I’m pretty sure it’s a man’s shoulder and a soft voice that does it, but of course you are welcome to try and/or giggle to yourself at these options.
(Made famous by) Louis Armstrong, When You’re Smiling
This was probably my first lullaby option and I have no clue why. However, it’s cute and easy and worked so I’m happy. It’s also surprisingly emotional to sing this to your brand new baby as they look into your eyes and finally stop crying – when you don’t have a clue what you are doing those moments are priceless.
(Sung by my friend Boo), Dream A Little Dream Of Me
Weirdly it took my addled brain a while to remember how this went but it does have some very good memories (as does another song performed at my wedding) and it is gorgeously smooth, which is exactly what you want to calm a little baby. In fact at this very moment Bear is whistling the tune to Cub whilst changing her and no crying or tears = success! There is something wonderful about a little jazzy number in the early hours of the morning, and even more so whilst enjoying a sleepy cosy lie in with your bundle of joy.
These are just a few of the ones that have been in our minds over the last three and a half weeks. I’m sure there will be more and once I’ve learnt a little ukulele maybe I’ll share some of that too. In the meantime, any suggestions for us?