What Kind of Song is that to Sing to a Baby?


weird nursery rhymes

Photo from Amazon

No one could put poor Humpty

back together!

Mr. Cafe Suzanne and I are hoping to raise our daughter to be bilingual so we've bought her a lot of French music. Many of the songs have been sung to babies in France for generations, and my husband grew up hearing them. But after singing them to our daughter recently, he was a bit taken aback.


One song is about sailors that run out of food and are going to eat the cabin boy so he tries to hang himself. Another is about a girl who is happily skipping about until she meets some officers who make fun of her and call her trash for wearing clogs. Huh?

And when you think about it, the songs and nursery rhymes in the U.S. aren't any cheerier. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and couldn't be put back together, Jack and Jill tumbled down a hill, Rock-a-bye baby falls out of a tree, Little Bo Peep lost her sheep and finds their tails hung out to dry, a spider scares Miss Muffet, and so on. Not really the kind of stories that will inspire sweet dreams as your little one drifts off to sleep.

I grew up hearing all of these songs and I don't think it did any damage to my psyche (then again, who knows), and I have sung all of them to my daughter. But still, why such dark themes in songs written for babies?

What songs do you sing your baby? Why do you think traditional nursery rhymes aren't all sweet and sunny?



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