Lullabies for Your Unborn Baby

Baby’s on the way, so now’s the time to brush up on your lullabies.

Research has shown babies retain some memory of sounds they hear while they’re in the womb, and since familiarity apparently promoted calmness and well-being in the infants studied, soft bedtime melodies seem like a natural (and smart!) place to start. Who doesn’t want a calm newborn?

Here are a few suggestions for soothing songs you can play both before the baby’s born and after s/he’s here. Share your own favorites in the comments!

(These suggestions are all kid-specific, but they don’t have to be. Just be sure to pick something you won’t mind listening to a million times since, if it works to calm your infant, you might be playing it A LOT.)

  • I adore everything by Elizabeth Mitchell, but her newest album, Sunny Day, has a particularly sweet lullaby called “My Little Buckaroo.” (Preview and download the mp3 here.)
  • Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child by folk legend Woody Guthrie ends with the song “Goodnight Little Arlo (Goodnight Little Darlin’).” If you’re into lo-fi, twangy goodness, you’ll dig this. (Available here.)
  • The Rockabye Baby! series is for parents with more contemporary tastes. Each CD is a collection of instrumental, baby-friendly versions of songs by bands including Bon Jovi, Metallica, Coldplay, and the Beatles. Although you probably won’t want to sing your baby the lyrics to something like U2’s political anthem “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” the slowed-down melodies are still sweet and eminently hummable.
  • Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films is a super weird album on the whole, but Bonnie Raitt’s version of “Baby Mine” (from Dumbo) is a real gem. (Hear it on YouTube.)
  • If I had to pick one song to sing to my babies forever and ever and ever, it would be “You Are My Sunshine” (although just the first verse, because the rest are sad!). There are a million different versions out there (type the title into iTunes and be amazed), which means there’s a style for everyone. Check out verions by Johnny Cash, Sara Gazarek, Frank Turner, Liliana Rose, Johnny Bregar, Elizabeth Mitchell (again) and, if you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat, Ray Charles.

What are your favorite lullabies?