I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Lullabies have been in existence for so long that it is hard to trace their exact origin. They seem to be, if I may be so bold as to say it, a manifestation of an innate, natural and maternal urge to calm, soothe and express love for our young. When baby needs to quieten down or is distressed and needs calming, most of us start to hum or sing without even realising we have started to do so – so intrinsic is this response.
Why we do this, and the many, many ways in which a lullaby benefits a baby or child is a feast for another blog entry. Today, we are going to look at the lullaby itself. Immediately, I know there are plenty of you reading this and retorting thus: ‘Oh I wouldn’t put my poor baby through listening to my awful drones – I want my child to grow up with some chance of singing in key!’. Well here’s some good news – you do not need to be considered a world class Prima Donna to sing to your child!
The lullaby is about communication, among other things. It is about your baby hearing you. Your baby (and this is radical thinking here) does not care one bit if you hit all the notes of the melody or if you barely sing one recognisable note throughout. They hear your voice, your words, your tones and they are immediately comforted in the knowledge that you are simply….there.
So read on to learn a few handy hints for the next time you are about to quash the lullaby within!
1. Feel the Moment
Chances are, you are singing a lullaby in a room that includes just you and your baby, or maybe your children collectively, but it is likely to be just you and them together. And no – there are no cameras (OK, quick tip, just check the baby monitors are not transmitting if this is a genuine concern!), there is not a room full of people glued to a speaker or screen just waiting for you to make them laugh with your solo and baby has not suddenly developed a knack for music critique – so allow yourself to feel the calmness, the serenity and the love in the lullaby you are singing. Look at your little cherub, hold them if this is how you wish to deliver the song, and let your lullaby tumble smoothly towards them charged with all the love and pride you feel within.
2. Easy Does It
I know I have been urging one and all to cast off any vocal doubts and insecurities, and I’m totally going for complete lullaby-singing empowerment here – but keep in mind that this is bed time or nap time, and while you may feel a building sense of achievement as you work through your chosen lullaby and stun yourself with your skills and the intimacy of a very special moment, make sure that you sing gently, steadily and softly. You are the musical swing gently rocking baby to sleep, not the ship that shouldn’t have hit the seas during the force 12 hurricane….
3. Find Your Rhythm
One of, if not THE most important element of a lullaby is its steady, rhythmical pace. Most lullabies are a 3/4 or 6/8 tempo (waltz time if you like), they swing gently to the ‘ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three’ rhythm. BUT – let’s also not forget tip number 1, so we are not going to suggest that a lullaby HAS to be in 3/4 time. If you are singing one of the classic lullabies, or indeed one from Lullaby Lu then it is likely to be, but if you have a song that has a special meaning for you and baby that is a 4/4 time, then go right ahead and use it! Just make sure that as you sing it softly (see point 2!), you sing it steadily, so that baby can get lost in the gentle rhythm of your voice.
4. Make it Personal
Most of us know the words to some traditional lullabies, Rock-a-By Baby, Hush Little Baby, Lavender’s Blue etc., and if you have forgotten them you need just type in ‘lullaby lyrics’ to Google to be instantly reminded. Make the lullaby even more personal by substituting ‘baby’ with your baby’s name or nickname, or pop it in where ever you feel it fits. I don’t need to remind you that this is what we at Lullaby Lu specialise in, making the lullaby personal, so that baby hears their name and feels the connection with you and the lullaby as an even stronger bond. My mummy used to do this, and I remember it as if it were yesterday.
5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
It is hard not to hear Dory as I say ‘just keep singing’! But really, that is the key. We have all drifted off as the television has murmured in the background, or had the radio on gently as we’ve entered the land of nod. The security and calmness that your voice brings to your baby will help them relax and ultimately drift off to sleep. Obviously, there will be nights when baby is perhaps a little more alert than we would like, and you find yourself singing lullabies as if the needle has well and truly wedged, but generally speaking, once baby is used to hearing your night time melodies, you hopefully won’t find yourself singing for too long. Or stick to a repertoire of two or three short lullabies as the final part of your bedtime ritual.
And there you have it! Pretty obvious I hear you say – well sometimes the most effective things are the simplest. We know there are going to be nights when you can’t or just don’t feel like singing lullabies. We know that you want to sing a lullaby to your child that is as personal and intimate as it can be. We know you want it to be special and tick all the ‘lullaby musts’. That’s why we’re here. We can provide you with that unique lullaby that can be played to baby at bedtime, nap time, in the car, on the play mat, in the doctor’s waiting room (quietly of course)… but you know that when you want to and the moment feels right, you can give baby the ultimate lullaby experience….and sing it to them yourself.