Modern Lullabies for a new Generation


modern lullabies to sing to your little ones to sweet sleep

Do you sing to your kids before bed?  Did your parents sing to you when you were little?

I don’t remember if my parents sang to me, but some of my earliest memories are associated with music.  Music was always playing in our house and I can mark specific times in my life by very specific songs.  I hope to pass along a love of good music to my little ones.  And though most people would discourage my singing (the voice is just not what I would hope), my little ones think I have a beautiful voice!  I sing to my kids every day throughout the day, but I like for bedtime to be a little bit more routine. And I have a repertoire that includes a handful of songs.

I thought I would share our favorite modern lullabies for a new generation:

We ALWAYS sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” – all 5 verses (sometimes 6).  Didn’t know there were 6 verses to Twinkle, Twinkle?  We made up a few (including my husband’s version: Pickle, Pickle in a Jar).

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And we sing some other not so well-known lullabies.  They are actually songs I love that remind me of lullabies.  Here are my favorite songs to sing to our little ones before they drift off to sleep.

Josh Ritter: “In Your Arms a While”

This is a brand-new one for us – it came out when my first round of babies were little.  My older girls both know it from hearing the song in the car and so I like to sing it to them before they go to bed. My favorite line: “You got my heart in your pocket.”

Lullaby line: “Hold me in your arms awhile, and I will hold you in my arms awhile, I will hold you in my arms just a little bit longer.”

John Prine: I Love you So Much it Hurts

This one fits the old style lullabies where they scared little children before tucking them in, but I love it anyway.  It was originally written by Floyd Tilman back in the 1940’s, but I just love the way John Prine’s voice lends gravitas to it (please excuse the video…wish there was one from John Prine).

By the way, my little guy LOVES this song so much, he memorized it and sang it to me. It melts my heart and is a treasure for sure.

Lullaby Line: “I love you so much it hurts me…I’m afraid to go to bed at night…”

Townes Van Zandt: If I Needed You

This song just works on every level because it is one of the most perfect songs ever!  I am a huge Townes fan and I just love sharing this song with my little ones. It is just classic! Recently, I introduced my 3 year old boy to this song and he requests it about 90% of the time. After I finish singing it, every time, he says, “I love that song. That’s a great song.”

Lullaby Line: “If I needed you would you come to me? If you needed me, I would come to you.  I would swim the seas for to ease your pain.”

Peter Bradley Adams: For You

Like most of Adams other songs, the tempo is just right for lulling one to sleep.  The sentiments are also just right for raising little ones to know the power and unending bounds of mom and dad’s love.

Lullaby Line: “If your dreaming ever wakes you, And you find your dreaming wasn’t true, Wipe the sleep from your eyes, Leave the nightmares behind, And I’ll dream a better dream for you.”

Joe Ely: If You Were a Bluebird

I love this song so much I can barely stand it!  It was written by Butch Hancock, but Joe sings it best.  I do realize it is more of a love song, but it works well for kids and parents, too.

Lullaby Line: “If I was a highway, I’d stretch alongside you, I’d help you pass by ways that had dissatisfied you.”

What interesting lullabies do you sing to your little ones?  I would love to hear them!

modern lullabies to sing to your little ones to sweet sleep

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Stacie K.

    Love these. Listened to all this morning and Gil actually fell back asleep 🙂 I’ve heard G. sing the Bluebird song in full when she was down for a “nap”. I am impressed.

  2. Bradie

    I always sing Patty Griffin’s “Up To The Mountain”. Puts him to sleep every time!

    1. ussleah

      Oh, Bradie, I will have to look that one up! Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. I sing “Three Little Birds’- Bob Marley — when I can manage to get through it without tearing up. I’m super emotional when singing lullabies to my children — they make me cry.

    1. ussleah

      I think I know the melody for that one, but I don’t know the whole song. Will have to look it up, Dianna! Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Ceena Chua-Ong

    Thank you for these songs. Was actually going to look for new lullaby songs for our baby when she comes out. The old ones are nice, but I want her to hear new songs. 🙂

    1. ussleah

      I really like these songs…they are my absolute favorites!

  5. Becky

    I can’t wait to try these out! My little five month old loves music, and I have gotten her to fall asleep to a few lullabies. I myself am a preschool music teacher so I have lots of then up my sleeve :). She loves “May There Always Be,” a Russian lullaby (we skng the first stanza and change the third line every time). She also loves “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins and “When You Say Nothin At All” by Allisln Krauss. Can’t wait to see what others post!

  6. Jessica

    Definitely Dave Barnes’ “Mine to Love”:

    “You’re mine to love, we have all been waiting for you. You’re mine to love, come into these open arms. It took some time to wait it out, but I see it now. You’re worth all the dreaming of. You’re mine to love.”

    …and Jon McLaughlin’s “Imaginary Tea”:

    “So take it slow, before you know it you’re gonna be old and grown. But just remember that I’m always here, hands you can hold on to. And I love you.”

    1. ussleah

      Oh, those are so nice, Jessica! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jess

    I love this! I made a Lullaby playlist for my little including “Golden Slumbers” by The Beatles and “Wild World” by Cat Stevens.

    1. ussleah

      My husband loves Cat Stevens. And I hadn’t thought of that one by the Beatles. Thanks for the suggestions, Jess!

  8. Heidi

    I love all of these suggestions! Speaking of Cat Stevens, we love “Morning Has Broken.” It was one of my mother’s favorites, and now my son requests it often.

    1. ussleah

      Isn’t it great to pass down your favorites (and your parents favorites) to our kids? Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Brittani A.

    Me and Bobby McGee
    Night Rider’s Lament
    Hank Sr
    And if he really resists: Christmas hymns

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