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

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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?

 

 

bedtime

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babyb... babyboomboom

My son and I rock out to "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.  We also like "Crazy Train" by Ozzy.  And out new favorite band is Numeriklab.  For those that don't know they play the NCIS theme song.

RanaA... RanaAurora

How about Alouette?  It's about plucking a bird to death.


My 5 year old was trying to remember the lyrics to "Rockabye Baby" the other day, and he said, "Rocking a baby, rocking a baby... when the baby falls, no one will catch it... now baby's head is hurt."  I laughed my BUTT off.  What am I supposed to do?  Tell him the song isn't meant to be bad?  Yes it is!


One of my son's favorite songs for me to sing is the Banana Phone song by Raffi.

autum... autumnsmommy02

FINALLY! Others notice this too! I've ALWAYS hated nursery rhymes because of all of these reasons.


Mom and I have talked about this so many times and I was amazed at how many of my friend's never really even noticed because they were so used to hearing them and the catchy little tunes they have.

autum... autumnsmommy02

LMAO  That's too funny!


My 5 year old was trying to remember the lyrics to "Rockabye Baby" the other day, and he said, "Rocking a baby, rocking a baby... when the baby falls, no one will catch it... now baby's head is hurt."  I laughed my BUTT off.  What am I supposed to do?  Tell him the song isn't meant to be bad?  Yes it is!

charm... charming3

"you are my sunshine, my only sunshine" our kids enjoyed it!

nonmember avatar kittenkills

rock-a-bye baby is about childbirth. the cradle is the placenta. the tree top, the womb. the wind blowing bit comes from the thought that pregnant women are extreemly sensitive and even the slightest thing can trigger labor.

ARobb... ARobbinsWilson

I love kittenkills interpretation of Rock a Bye Baby from a poetic standpoint but I believe that the origin is actually in early American history when a young pilgrim saw Native American women hang their babies in birch cradles so that the wind would rock them as they worked.


"Baby music" is a relatively young creation.  It used to be that babies heard whatever their parents heard and there was not as much concern about children being delicate. Many children's "nursery rhymes" came out of political poetry (when any protest had to be hidden in rhyme and metaphor or the person could end up without their head).  For example My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean was probably about "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and not about a lost love.  I am sure Humpty Dumpty comes out of some political lampoon but I don't know what it was.


I sang some lullabies for our son and created more because it was easier than remembering the words to melodies I had not heard for so long!  I created LullabyLink.com to help other mothers find lyrics and melodies as well as ideas for how to use music with their babies.

texas... texasangel76

I sing Baby of Mine from Dumbo to my son at bedtime. Any other time I sing whatever song is on. it doesn't really matter to him what song it is because he laughs and smiles everytime I sing to him no matter what the song. Absolutely melts my heart. :)

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