15 classic and modern lullaby songs to help soothe your baby to sleep

baby sleep music

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

When you're trying to settle your baby at bedtime, you can invest in a baby sleep aid to help settle them, however a bedtime lullaby or a cradle song can be just as effective.

A lullaby is a soothing piece of music that is usually played for, or sung to, children to help relax a crying baby or tot when it comes to falling asleep. Additionally, there are also baby sleep toys that can also help your little ones drift off to dreamland.

Bedtime routines are a great way to teach your baby about the new world around them, and that night time means it's time to go to bed in their cot or Moses basket or a rocking bed. Repeating your behaviours such as singing them a soothing song, baby massage or having a bath before bedtime are all ways to encourage their circadian rhythm to kick in so they (and you!) can sleep as soundly as possible.

Why will a lullaby help put your baby to sleep?

As parents know all too well, newborns - and toddlers in general - aren't always good at getting (and staying) asleep. Medical Director at Bupa UK insurance, Dr Robin Clark says "studies show that lullabies can help children to sleep quickly."

"This is especially true when they're sung by parents. Lullabies can trigger a relaxation response."

And as your baby gets older, a lullaby's a great way to help your tot settle as they can join in with the song too, rather than getting frustrated at bedtime, they might even sing some of their favourite nursery rhymes too!

Usually a baby cries when their disposable or reusable nappy needs changing, when they're hungry or maybe when they are feeling uncomfortable. But, babies, especially newborns, need sleep to grow and develop well. For newborns, this is usually 14-17 hours in every 24 hours.

While babies can sleep for up to 4 hours at a time, they wake up frequently to feed because they have tiny tummies - and will probably go back to dreamland or stay awake and give you a smile.

When babies have improved sleep, they stay happy, engage in more activities - and this also gives you more time to give yourself some 'you' time - (and catching up on the latest Netflix series).

Looking after yourself is also important. When you're healthy and well, it's good for you and your baby, plus who doesn't love bedtime lullabies right?

baby sleeping through lluaby

Here are some of our best baby lullaby songs - a mix of popular, modern day hits and songs sung for centuries by parents eager for their little ones to take a nap.

1. "Rock-a-Bye Baby"

Rockabye Baby takes the rock music parents love and transforms it into soothing instrumental lullabies. The perfect baby lullaby for babies to go to sleep - a soft and relaxing sleep song to be added to your playlist created for your baby or toddler.

Listen to Rock a Bye Baby.

“Rock-a-Bye Baby” Lyrics

Rock-a-bye baby

On the tree tops,

When the wind blows

The cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks

The cradle will fall,

And down will come baby

Cradle and all.

2. "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"

The lyrics to this classic — heard in day cares around the country — come from a poem by Jane Taylor that was written in 1806. With its images of stars and the night sky, along with the disappearing sun, this song is the perfect way to evoke sleep. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ is a perennial favourite. The words encourage dreaming, wonder and imagination — all the things a small child might experience when gazing up at the night sky.

Listen to Twinkle Twinkle, Little star,

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Lyrics

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveler in the dark

Thanks you for your tiny spark,

How could he see where to go,

If you did not twinkle so?

In the dark blue sky you keep,

Often through my curtains peep.

For you never shut your eye,

Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark

Lights the traveler in the dark,

Though I know not what you are,

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

3. "Amazing Grace"

The Christian hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ is also a very famous lullaby! If you’re looking for some new lullabies to sing to your baby when it’s bedtime, you can consider Amazing Grace. This melodious lullaby in your voice will definitely put your baby to sleep in no time.

Listen to Amazing Grace.

“Amazing Grace” Lyrics

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see

Was grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace, my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares

We have already come

T'was grace that brought us safe thus far

And grace will lead us home

And grace will lead us home

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see

Was blind, but now I see

registering your baby birth
Young parents with their baby girl at home

4. "You Are My Sunshine"

Although originally a country song and not a lullaby, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ works very well as a song for singing your baby to sleep because of its moving lyrics. It’s considered one of the most-covered songs in American popular music, having been recorded by over 350 artists and translated into at least 30 languages.

Listen to You Are My Sunshine.

“You Are My Sunshine” Lyrics

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

You make me happy when skies are grey.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you,

Please don't take my sunshine away.

The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping,

I dreamt I held you in my arms.

When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken,

So I hung my head, and I cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

You make me happy when skies are grey.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you,

Please don't take my sunshine away.

I'll always love you and make you happy,

If you will only say the same.

But if you leave me to love another,

You'll regret it all one day.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

You make me happy when skies are grey.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you,

Please don't take my sunshine away.

Please don't take my sunshine away.

5. "Hush Little Baby"

The Hush Little Baby song is a lullaby which is sung to little ones all over the globe. However, the song is also taught to children as a rhyme. The purpose of this nursery rhyme or lullaby is to soothe a crying baby or toddler. It can also be used to teach new words to little ones. You can also change 'papa' to 'mama' or another name of your choice.

Listen to Hush Little Baby.

“Hush Little Baby” Lyrics

Hush, little baby, don't say a word,

Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird won't sing,

Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring turns to brass,

Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass.

And if that looking glass gets broke,

Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat.

And if that billy goat won't pull,

Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull.

And if that cart and bull turn over,

Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover.

And if that dog named Rover won't bark,

Papa's gonna buy you a horse and cart.

And if that horse and cart fall down,

You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town!

Slapped cheek syndrome

6. "Row Your Boat"

This song helps children to learn about the world around them whether it is about rowing a boat or learning about animal noises. It can help with their gross motor skills as they are using their whole body to rock in motion, forwards and backwards to imitate rowing a boat. This can help them with their balance, coordination and muscle development.

Listen to Row Row Row Your Boat

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” Lyrics

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream

If you see a crocodile don't forget to scream

(repeat four times and change the animal each verse)

7. “Isn’t She Lovely”

This Stevie Wonder song, which is an ode to his own daughter, Aisha makes a beautiful lullaby. The collection of adjectives describing Aisha just after her birth — lovely, wonderful, precious — will likely feel familiar to any new mum or dad, and you can change the she to he too.

“Isn’t She Lovely” Lyrics

Isn't she lovely

Isn't she wonderful?

Isn't she precious?

Less than one minute old

I never thought through love we'd be

Making one as lovely as she

But isn't she lovely made from love?

Isn't she pretty?

Truly the angel's best

Boy, I'm so happy

We have been heaven-blessed

I can't believe what God has done

Through us He's given life to one

But isn't she lovely made from love?

Isn't she lovely?

Life and love are the same

Life is Aisha,

The meaning of her name

Londie, it could have not been done

Without you who conceived the one

That's so very lovely, made from love, hey!

8. “La Vie En Rose”

Written in 1945 by Edith Piaf, the song has been covered over the years and has been sung in English and French. It's about seeing life through rose-coloured glasses, and translates to 'life in pink'. It makes a beautiful lullaby to sing to your baby, because despite newborn life being difficult, we only look at the joy and love our new baby brings.

“La Vie En Rose” Lyrics

Hold me close and hold me fast

The magic spell you cast

This is la vie en rose

When you kiss me, heaven sighs

And though I close my eyes

_I see la vie en r_ose.

When you press me to your heart

I'm in a world apart

A world where roses bloom,

And when you speak, angels sign from above

Everyday words seem to turn

Into love songs.

Give your heart and soul to me

And life with always be

La vie en rose

Listen to La vie en rose.

9. “Brother John”

Also known as Frere Jacques, this song can be sang in French, or in the English version as Brother John. It's a popular nursery rhyme and lullaby that was written as a rhyme in the 1800's.

“Brother John” Lyrics

Are you sleeping?

Are you sleeping?

Brother John,

Brother John,

Morning bells are ringing!

Morning bells are ringing!

Ding, dang, dong.

Ding, dang, dong.

10. “Star Light, Star Bright”

It's a hope that if you see a shooting star and make a wish, that wish will come true, which is what this rhyme is based around. Originating in America, there are a few song covers for children's bedtime songs.

“Star Light, Star Bright” Lyrics

Star light, star bright,

The first star I see tonight.

I wish I may,

I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

11. “Baby Mine”

Featuring in the 1941 Disney film Dumbo, as well as the remake in 2019, this song is sung by Dumbo's mother as she's cradling her baby. It's a perfect lullaby song as the lyrics and tune are relaxing, and it reinforces the bond between a child and their parent and reassures you're always there for your child.

“Baby Mine” Lyrics

Baby mine, don't you cry.

Baby mine, dry your eyes.

Rest your head close to my heart,

Never to part, baby of mine.

Little one, when you play,

Pay no heed what they say.

Let your eyes sparkle and shine,

Never a tea, baby of mine.

If they knew all about you,

They'd end up loving you, too.

All those same people who scold you,

What they'd give just for the right to hold you.

From your hair down to your toes,

You're not much, goodness knows.

But, you're so precious to me,

Sweet as can be, baby of mine.

12. “Sweet Dreams, Goodnight Song”

Covered on YouTube by Super Simple Songs, this is a sweet lullaby to sing to your baby. It makes it clear that it's time to go to sleep in a relaxing way, and can make a sweet part of the bedtime routine.

“Sweet Dreams, Goodnight Song” Lyrics

Goodnight to you, goodnight to me,

Now close your eyes and go to sleep.

Goodnight, sleep tight,

Sweet dreams tonight,

Goodnight, I love you.

(repeat three times)

Listen to Sweet Dreams, Goodnight Song here.

13. “Golden Slumbers”

Based on a poem by Thomas Dekker from the 17th century, the song was covered by The Beatles for their album Abbey Road in 1969. It's a sweet and modern song to sing to your baby as a lullaby.

“Golden Slumbers” Lyrics

Once, there was a way

To get back homeward

Once, there was a way

To get back home

Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby.

Golden slumbers fill your eyes

Smiles awake you when you rise

Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby

Once, there was a way

To get back homeward

Once, there was a way

To get back home

Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby

14. “Heaven”

While this is a rock song by Canadian singer, Bryan Adams, it can be slowed down to be sung as a lullaby to your baby. We think it's a lovely way to describe the baby bubble you're in following the birth of your baby too.

“Heaven” Lyrics

Baby, you're all that I want

When you're lying here in my arms

I'm finding it hard to believe

We're in heaven.

And love is all that I need,

And I found it there in your heart

It isn't too hard to see,

We're in heaven

15. “You'll Be In My Heart”

Sang by Phil Collins, this is another song that features in a Disney film. Featuring in Tarzan, the scenes shows a mother starting to sing the song to Tarzan after finding him as baby, reassuring him that he's not alone now.

“You'll Be In My Heart” Lyrics

Come stop your crying, it will be alright

Just take my hand, hold it tight.

I will protect you from, all around you

I will be here, don't you cry.

For one so small, you seem so strong

My arms will hold you,

Keep you safe and warm.

This bond between us, can't be broken

I will be here don't you cry.

Cause you'll be in my heart

Yes, you'll be in my heart

From this day on,

Now and forever more

You'll be in my heart

No matter what they say,

You'll be here in my heart, always


Remember, there is no sweeter way to put your baby to bed than with a soothing lullaby. As you snuggle close to your little at bedtime (and gazing at them in awe), by adding music to the experience can help grow your sense of connection, help calm them into an easier routine, and even improve your child’s cognitive development.

Where can I listen to lullabies?

A lot of lullabies can be listened to on music streaming platforms such as YouTube and Spotify, where a lot of traditional, modern lullabies or even classical lullabies from Mozart are also covered by artists for a consistent, soothing playlist. You can also invest in devices such as a Toniebox, that you can use to play lullabies from certain Tonies figures.

About the expert

Dr Robin Clarke is Medical Director for Bupa Global and UK Insurance. He started his career as a GP and has worked across different organisations over his 15 years of experience.

Samantha Ball is a Senior Writer for Mother&Baby, having written for the brand since 2018. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best and current trending products for little ones and for cute seasonal outfits.

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