Follow The Stir

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

by Suzanne Murray on May 21, 2009 at 7:26 AM


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?



Filed Under: bedtime


  • littl...


    May 21, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    I sing Amazing Grace and Lullaby and Goodnight.

  • kayla...


    May 21, 2009 at 8:29 AM

    i sing the sweet dream song to my daughters

  • TeriM...


    May 21, 2009 at 8:57 AM

    I have always sung "The Rose" by Bette Midler to my 5 years old because her middle name is Rose.

  • prego...


    May 21, 2009 at 9:06 AM
    Jesus loves me!
  • okmom...


    May 21, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    You are my sunshine and twinkle twinkle little star but he loves old mcdonald.

  • Charl...


    May 21, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    we sing amazing grace, Jesus loves me, twinkle twinkle little star, and the ABC's.

  • lizbug


    May 21, 2009 at 9:33 AM

    most nursery rhymes here in the UK are pretty bad really, all the ones you mentioned, and ring a ring a roses is actually about the bubonic plague or measles, something like that!  I sang them as a child, and to my children and we are all fine.  :)

  • SxdUp...


    May 21, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    We changed Rock-a-bye baby in our home.  Our family sings it differently because it was so gloomy. 

    "Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top
    when the wind blows the cradle will rock
    when the bough breaks we won't worry at all
    Mommy/Daddy will catch baby
    cradle and all"

    Humpty Dumpty does take a fall but we use it to teach our son to not climb on things he's not supposed to, lol.  "Don't climb on the couch like that!  You'll fall like Humpty Dumpty!"

  • Arabe...


    May 21, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    I sing disney songs to my baby, such as Beauty and the Beast and songs from Ariel and Sleeping Beauty

  • lizzeh


    May 21, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    Well a lot of nursery rhymes were thinks that were occuring at the time.

    Ring-a-round the rosie=Bubonic plague

    Had a little Birdie=Influenza outbreak in 1918

    Jack and Jill (supposedly)= the raising of taxes and it's a protest song.

    This Little Piggie=they go to the butcher shop. Lol.

1-10 of 28 comments

To leave a comment, log in as a CafeMom member:

Log In

OR, use our non-member comment form: