There are several things that play in to helping your children become good sleepers. One of these key elements is a calm wind down routine. Familiar, calming wind down routines can encourage the body to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone). These familiar routines will also give your baby/toddler cues that sleepy time is coming. There are several elements that can be used to create a calm wind down routine but one of my favourites is snuggle time with lullabies.
Lullabies have been associated with baby sleep for thousands of years (Perry 2013). They can really set the tone for good sleep. There is a lot of science that explains that singing to your baby can help with bonding and attachment. Songs can also help with language and learning (Logan 2010).
“They didn’t have you where I come from, never knew the best was yet to come. Life began when I saw your face, now I hear your laugh like a serenade” (Lullaby, Dixie Chicks, 2006)
How do you pick a lullaby?
Pick songs that you enjoy singing first and foremost. They may be ones you end up singing on repeat for years to come. Logan (2010) also explains that you should be a song with calm and quiet sounds. You want a song that is gentle and slow (the idea is the lull your baby). A lullaby should have a nice repetitive structure and not have a huge range. The tempo of the song (speed) should be slow and steady – reminding baby of the sound of their mother’s heartbeat. Using simple songs can help your children to learn elements of the song as they get older. My 2.5 year old now picks the bedtime songs and helps me sing them.
Including lullabies in your bedtime routine can help your baby with self-soothing skills. As babies my kids have often hummed themselves to sleep. I have also had several clients tell me the same story. They sing their lullaby and place baby in bed. Baby then hums until they fall asleep on their own.
Not sure where to start? Think back to some of your favourite calm songs that you sang as a child. I sing some campfire favourites as well as songs that my mom sang to me as a child. Right now my son’s favourite is “You are My Sunshine” and “Skinnamarink”. I also throw in the occasional Dixie Chicks song for my own benefit.
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21035103 – Nina Perry(2013)
http://www.aperfectlullaby.com/aboutapl/ – Matt Logan (2010)