Many parents know the difficulties of getting their little ones to sleep, no matter how tuckered out they get, sometimes babies resist any and all attempts to coax them into a peaceful slumber.
One tried and tested method is the lullaby, used over millennia and across cultures, but which songs are the most popular among parents for lulling their troublesome tots to sleep?
1. You Are My Sunshine (Originally performed by Jimmie Davis)
Artist: Nursery Rhymes 123
Coming top of our list, appearing on 147 playlists is this heart-warming lullaby and one of the most ubiquitous songs of the 20th century. The song was first released in 1940 and has been recorded by over 350 artists including Johnny Cash and Aretha Franklin. This lullaby has also been translated into 30 languages.
2. Colours of the Wind (Originally performed by Judy Kuhn)
Artist: Rita May
Colours of the Wind is the most popular bedtime song from a Disney film on our list, soothing little ones to sleep on 130 playlists. The song recorded as the main theme for the film Pocahontas, was composed by Alan Menken, best known for his work writing musical scores with Disney, and with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, writer of Wicked and Godspell. It was originally sung by Judy Khun and won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Grammy for best song in 1996.
3. Itsy Bitsy Spider (traditional)
Artist: Mingmei Hsueh
Itsy Bitsy Spider is the most popular nursery rhyme on our list of lullabies, included in 128 playlists. The origins of the song are uncertain, although it was first written down in the early 1900s. It tells the story of a spider as it goes up and down a waterspout and could be a fable for children to learn to persevere in the face of difficulty.
4. Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Originally performed by Elton John)
Artist: Rita May
The second Disney bedtime song on our list was originally written as a love ballad by Elton John and Tim Rice to feature in the classic animated film The Lion King. Featuring in 124 lullaby playlists, the song won an Oscar in 1994 for best original song and reached No. 14 on the UK singles chart.
5. A Whole New World (Originally performed by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane)
Artist: Purple Tulips
The second bedtime song on our list to feature the lyrical talents of Tim Rice and the composition of Alan Menken, the love ballad was written as the main theme of the 1992 Disney movie Aladdin. The song has enjoyed a new lease of life since the release of the live-action version of the film and is included on 110 baby sleep playlists.
6. When She Loved Me - Toy Story 2 (Originally performed by Sarah McLachlan)
Artist: Rockabye Lullaby
This melancholic pop ballad features on 101 baby bedtime playlists. The song was originally written by Randy Newman and performed by Sarah McLachlan for the film Toy Story 2. Many consider the bittersweet song to be a metaphor for children growing up and leaving their childhoods behind.
7. Puff The Magic Dragon (Originally performed by Peter, Paul and Mary)
Artist: Laura Hanson
Originally recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963, this bedtime song tells the story of a little boy and his imaginary friend, a dragon called Puff. The song is an allegory for the loss of innocence involved in growing up, as one day the little boy stops playing with Puff and leaves him on his own. It features on 99 playlists.
8. Baby Sleep Lullaby (Originally performed by Baby Sleep Music)
Artist: Baby Sleep Music
This lullaby features on 82 lullaby playlists. It is also the first lullaby on our list to be composed for the sole purpose of getting your little one to sleep. Baby Sleep Lullaby was recorded by Baby Sleep Music, an artist with a prolific output of lullabies as well as other relaxing soundtracks.
9. Sonata No. 16 (Originally performed by Mozart)
Artist: Lullaby Time
One of the oldest bedtime songs on our list, Sonata No. 16 was first penned by Mozart in 1788. Studies have shown that playing classical music to babies helps to calm them down and some parents believe it can even make children more intelligent. As a result, it's no surprise this classical piece makes the top ten features on 79 playlists.
10. How Far I'll Go (Originally performed by Auliʻi Cravalho)
Artist: Thomas Loof
Originally recorded for the Disney film Moana, this soft instrumental piano cover featured on 77 playlists, rounds out our list, transforming the ballad into a soothing bedtime lullaby. The song was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and expresses the main character’s irresistible urge to explore the world.
The best ways to help your baby sleep
Every baby has his/her own sleeping pattern which often changes as they grow, some sleep through the night whilst others only in short naps. As every parent knows getting your baby to sleep can be a stressful task, often leaving them without the sleep they need themselves. With this in mind, below are some tips to help your baby drift off peacefully.
- Getting your little one used to night and day is key for both parents and babies. During the day you should let light in, play games with them and not worry too much about everyday noise whilst they nap, as getting them used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise benefits both parents and babies. At nighttime, you should put your baby down as soon as they’ve been fed and changed, keep the lights down low and avoid making too much noise.
- Establishing a baby bedtime routine when your little one is around three months old is also key for soothing them to sleep. It could consist of bathing and changing them, putting them to bed, reading them a bedtime story or singing a lullaby and dimming the lights. Be careful to avoid too much overstimulation as this can wake them up again.
- Share responsibilities with your partner. To cope with newborns who will always wake up repeatedly in the night, share responsibilities with a partner to make sure you both get enough sleep. This can include sharing feeds if you are formula feeding or if you are into a good breastfeeding routine, your partner could give a bottle of expressed milk during the night or early morning.
- Be prepared to change your routine. As your baby grows, goes through teething, growth spurts and sickness can affect how your baby sleeps. You may need to change your routine to ensure your baby gets a good nights sleep.
We looked at a number of playlists on Spotify to find out which songs parents use to get their babies to sleep.
By looking at the keywords ‘baby lullaby’ ‘lullabies’ ‘baby sleep’ ‘sleep lullabies’ and ‘lullabies’ for bedtime’ we examined 4,039 playlists and 5,041,38 songs using the Playlist Miner which then gave us the top 100 songs in each playlist.
By taking the total number of appearances of each song we were able to discover the most popular bedtime songs and lullabies.
Tips on helping your baby to sleep were taken from the NHS website.