Raising Richmond: Lullaby mix

I’ve been singing to JR ever since he was a tiny, shrimp-like creature snuggled up in my belly. To give you a glimpse into our daily life, I thought I’d share some of our favorites here. Hopefully you’ll share some of your go-to songs, too.

I’m not much of a singer. You’d think coming from a family where the majority of its members are paid actual dollars to sing in public, I’d be upset by this. But I’m not. I’m perfectly happy to let my dad and siblings have at it while I sit quietly in the audience and listen.

It’s not that I have a particularly bad voice (although I’ve never ventured to find out if it’s particularly good either). The issue is this: the thought of singing in front of other people makes me want to run for the hills. And then throw up. And then die a whimpering death.

I won’t sing in front of my husband. I won’t sing in front of my friends. I won’t sing audibly in church if there aren’t a lot of people there to drown me out. I even roll up the windows in my car if I’m singing along with the radio.

But there is one person for whom I will sing: my son JR. He’s three and he thinks I’m the most beautiful singer in the “whole, big, huge world”. At least this what he tells me when I sing to him at bedtime each night.1

I’ve been singing to JR ever since he was a tiny, shrimp-like creature snuggled up in my belly. Most days of my pregnancy I would take long walks and sing the same little ditties over and over again. It was a really, really sweet time for me, especially when he started to kick in response to the songs.

After his birth, most of those songs stayed in our regular rotation, and we added in a few that seemed to help calm him during his squawky days as a newborn. We still sing most of them three years later.

Well, I sing them; he either shouts them in my face or rambles on about Lightning McQueen as I will him to fall asleep. But regardless, they’re kind of our “thing.”

To give you a glimpse into our daily life, I thought I’d share some of our favorites here. Maybe they’ll come in handy the next time you’ve got a little one crooning “But I just need one more song…” as you turn out the light.

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Baby Mine

Yes, the scene below is heart-wrenching (Pixar’s got nothing on those Disney execs of the 1940s), but the song is simple and sweet–and perfect when someone’s feeling a bit blue, too.

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Distant Melody

My sister would have to confirm this, but I think we watched the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan approximately 56,129 times when I was a kid. It wasn’t even a legit version; we taped it off the TV, commercials included. So maybe that makes it even MORE legit? I dunno. But I do know what IS legit: this song. Learn it, love it, live it (or just sing it, whatevs).

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Ice Cream

Wanna blow your kid’s mind? Tell him that he’s better than ice cream AND chocolate.

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Moon River

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my favorite movie, so when I found out this song was successful in getting a days-old JR to chill the eff out, I was stoked.

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Down to the River

I have a thing for traditional Appalachian music (as shown by my tendency to openly blubber when we sing it in church) so I’m always thrilled when JR requests this song. Plus, it’s super mellow and repetitive which helps with the lulling.


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Beautiful Boy

John Lennon’s love song to his younger son will always remind me of this current period in JR’s life–teetering between baby and boy. It’s just…augh it kills me. Incidentally, JR prefers to change the line from “and your daddy’s here” to “and your family’s here” because he’s all about being inclusive. And of course we swap out “Sean” for “JR” because it’d be weird to be singing about some kid we don’t know.

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JR is still a bit young for a viewing of The Sound of Music, so I’m using this song to begin the indoctrination process–even though I was recently devastated by the news that Christopher Plummer did NOT do his own singing in the movie. Captain von Trapp, say it ain’t so!

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Rainbow Connection

A popular choice, I’m sure, but this was the first song JR tried to sing along to (I mean, other than those of the “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” variety). So naturally I can no longer listen to it without thinking of him. And maybe sobbing.

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Found a Peanut

I don’t know either. But it works, so I’m not going to question it.

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I’d love to hear which songs you sing to your wee ones–your favorites and theirs (because I realize they aren’t necessarily the same things). Leave them in the comments!

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  1. Kids. They are sometimes quite good for your self esteem, you know. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Kristi on said:

    My favorite song for both kids is “Godspeed” (the Dixie Chicks version):

    The song was written by a father for his 5-year-old son, who was moving to Europe with his mother after a divorce. Such sweet words and a simple message. Plus, I love the references to Peter Pan and Good Night Moon.

    That one was always Luke’s favorite, too. Josie’s whole body relaxes when I start singing it, but her favorite song is the chorus of “Bicycle Built for Two,” (Daisy Bell) but I change “Daisy, Daisy” to “Josie, Josie.”

  2. I’ll Fly Away

    Amazing Grace

    You Vandal (really softly)

    Big Rock Candy Mountain (change the alcohol references to soda. Keep the anti-police references.)

  3. Amanda on said:

    I like hymns too–Heavenly Sunlight, Victory in Jesus, Let Us Break Bread Together, Because He Lives.

    We also do Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson ballads–Midight in Montgomery, He Went to Paris, Come Monday.

    I never sang much until my son was born, but it is one of the many great things about being a parent. And it works like MAGIC!

  4. Laura on said:

    I love your ideas! I sing “Fairest Lady” to Abbie (not Jason, for obvious reasons). Then Tony and I rotate several of these in our mix: “I Love You” from Barney, “Hushabye Mountain” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “All the Pretty Little Horses”, “Great Big Stars”, “Twinkle Twinkle”. But our all-time guarantee to make a fussy baby go to sleep is “The Ants Go Marching On” aka “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”! :)

  5. “Mama tooted” – Keller Williams

  6. I love all of these suggestions! Although, Phil, I’m not familiar with that one.

  7. Also, I wanted to add that another favorite was Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”, but my husband usually did that one. It was adorable.

  8. Kristin on said:

    H loves Blackbird, Till There Was You, and Devil Town which isn’t so soothing of a message but it works.

    And when he was a teeny fussy preemie, I used to do a slow spoken word version of Gin and Juice while patting out the beat on his butt nd it often was the only thing that settled him.

  9. Aubree on said:

    My little man loves to hear

    “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” from A Mighty Wind

    And Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”

  10. Oh, Val. I loooove “Moon River” and I’ve never seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” so that video was a double treat for me. Thanks for posting it. I need to find ukulele chords for that song…I’ve been known to sing it to my boys too.

  11. Jeb, you also need to watch the movie! AUGH I LOVE IT.

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