Not Your Grandma’s Lullaby: Songs Modern Moms Sing to Their Babies

These parents said goodnight to the same-old bedtime songs and embrace more modern lullabies for their babies.

“Lullaby and goodnight …”

These rhythmic words might come to mind naturally when you picture cradling your new baby and rocking them to sleep. What could be more appropriate, after all, than singing the same songs that generations before you have used to lull little ones to dreamland?

But for some mothers and fathers, those tried-and-true lullabies just don’t suffice. Instead, they gravitate toward the songs already playing in their heads — the old favorites that defined their childhood or the current chart-toppers they jam on the way home from work each day.

And why not? Sometimes, imparting the music we love into our children’s lives — even at the earliest ages — can feel like sharing a piece of who we are. It may be years before that first favorite song or first concert you can share together, but it’s a simple pleasure parents can enjoy right now — and, usually, baby does too.

We asked local parents what songs they enjoy singing to baby at bedtime. Explore these modern lullabies and start thinking about what you’ll sing when the time comes.

No sunshine when she’s gone

“My husband has always sang ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ by Bill Withers to our girls. When our oldest was a baby, he said that seeing the joy on her face when he came home from work or TDY (temporary duty) made him so happy. He heard this song and has sung it to her, and now our other daughter, every night before bed since. It’s their fave! “

– Amanda Armsey, mom of two, Sterling Heights

A calming effect

“Days after my son’s birth when he was up crying all night, I turned on ‘Northern Wind’ by City and Colour. As I sang along to the track, my boy slowly drifted off to sleep. The melody has a calming effect on both of us, and when I hear the line, ‘Oh my love, you don’t know what you do to me,’ my heart feels like it’s going to burst with love for my son.”

– Stacey Winconek, mom of one and Metro Parent writer

Worth the wait

“I sing part of ‘A Thousand Years’ (by Christina Perri) to my eldest. I sing this mostly to my oldest son because I struggled to get pregnant with him — we’ve talked about how mommy had to wait for a long time for him to arrive.”

– Melissa Amyoni, mom of three, Madison Heights

Raising an old soul

“My daughter loved ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me,’ the Louis Armstrong version from the ’40s. I have an ‘old soul,’ I suppose, and enjoy all types of music, but the music from this era (WWII or ’40s) seems to be filled with feeling and I really don’t need to worry about explaining explicit lyrics to my kids. I had the song on my iPod before my daughter was born and I just started singing it in the car when she was a baby and then a little at nap and bedtime. She seems to enjoy this version more than the Michael Buble version, but I see at 3 years old her taste in music seems to follow mine.”

– Kendra Babcock, mom of two, Livonia

Hail to the lullaby

“When my daughter was a baby she loved Michigan’s fight song, ‘Hail to the Victors!’ We chose the song because Allie was born the day before the first Michigan game of the season. My husband is a U-M graduate and huge Michigan football fan. In the hospital, we all watched the game together. In the weeks after her birth we couldn’t go to any games in Ann Arbor so watched all of them at home with the new baby. Whenever she would get fussy, I would walk around with her singing ‘Hail to the Victors!’ and she would fall back asleep so we just stuck with it!”

– Amanda Sapian, mom of one, Belleville

Cradle on a cloud

“I sing ‘Castle on a Cloud’ from Les Miserables to my daughter, but I swap her name for Cosette’s. She is 7 now and sings it with me. My husband and I like the music from Les Mis and I just started to sing it spontaneously to Jillian when she was an infant substituting her name for Cosette’s and it stuck.”

– Julie Williams, mom of two, Oxford

Sweetest creature

“My son Andrew, 4, and I sing ‘Sweet Creature’ by Harry Styles. He knows every word and asks to sing it now. I tell him he’s the Sweet Creature. It’s a really pretty, sweet song and fits well for a mommy/baby.”

– Andrea Parmenter, mom of one, Royal Oak

Broadway baby

“I love singing ‘Dear Theodosia’ from Hamilton to my youngest daughter. I was pregnant with her when I saw the show, and that song resonated with me so much.”

– Stefanie Pohl, mom of two, mid-Michigan

This post was originally published in 2018 and is updated regularly.

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