What to Sing Your Baby

Serenading parents report singing everything from opera to James Brown and old Frank Sinatra tunes such as "I Thought About You," as well as their own compositions.

"I sing songs that I make up, as well as old songs and popular songs -- anything that comes to my head," Bianco explains. "My baby almost always responds with a smile, and sometimes she moves to the rhythm of what I’m singing."

Many parents who sing to their babies delight in making up their own private baby tunes. It seems that parenting a baby often taps into one’s creativity in a uniquely heartfelt way. For instance, Elaine Block Stettin sings mostly made-up songs, built around her baby’s name or pet names.

Her son’s favorite lullaby goes like this:

Oh my little chestnut face

Oh my little honey bee

Oh my little lovey dove

He’s my little Jeremy.

"I make them up as I go along," says Stettin, adding modestly, "Lucky for me, Jeremy doesn’t seem to have very refined taste in music! These little made-up lullabies are the last part of our bedtime ritual, and even if he doesn’t fall asleep right away, he’ll usually stop crying when I sing to him."

Mary Ann Foy also improvises songs for her 5-month-old daughter, Amelia. "I make up silly songs all the time, which she enjoys. For instance, during her bath I’ll sing ‘Oh, I like to take a bath…’ to some crazy made-up melody. My singing distracts her and keeps her happy when she’s fussy. She smiles and will be very attentive during the song -- and often she will vocalize with me."

Original bath tunes are in Michael Gerard’s repertoire as well, when he sings to his 2-month-old son. "Antonio is nervous about taking his bath," Gerard says, "so now we have this ritual, which calms him down so he’s ready for bed afterwards. We turn down the lights, light some candles, and I sing him this song:

Into the wa-wa-wa-water,

into the wa-wa-wa-water,

into the wa-wa-wa-water

we will go.

Water that makes us

oh so clean

so serene

like a dream.

Water that makes us

oh so clean

I can’t wait to gooooo ... oh

Into the wa-wa-wa water…

My own son -- now 14 and a fan of Limp Bizkit and Destiny’s Child -- used to be lulled to sleep by this straight-from-the-heart lullaby, penned by his mom:

Talk to me, Noah, tell me what’s on your mind.

Sweet dreams and quiet thoughts, you fill my silent night.

Talk to me, Noah, no reason or rhyme.

Just the love in your angel eyes tells me your mine.

Whether it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber, Fiona Apple or your own spur-of-the-moment aria, the songs that make the biggest hit with baby are those that flow lovingly from your voice to his ears.