Let’s all start singing to our precious one! It is always better that you, as a mother or father, sing to your child, rather than play recorded music. The child will see the movement of your mouth, and how the singing, breathing and the voice are being produced. Most of all, the best and the dearest voice always belongs to mommy or daddy, and that is the voice the child wants to hear.
There are plenty of kids songs out there but I dare to claim that the little, simple, DIY songs and jingles are the most fun for you and your child. The words don’t have to reach the Nobel price level – you can use funny sounds and simple combinations of two, three words. The more you goof around and make odd sounds the better!
Singing before and after child-birth
When my son was still in a tummy my ambitious goal was to sing to the embryo one particular lullaby over and over again. I naively thought that if I just repeated the same song enough times my new-born baby would recognize it in the midst of his agony and would instantly calm down. Yea right! My chosen Finnish monotonous lullaby “Tuu tuu tupakkarulla” did not make the situation any easier or different. In fact, I had had enough of that same stale song, and now thinking back, the child was probably sensing my boredom.
On restless nights, when the lullaby had already been trashed away, I made up a little song that worked pretty well. It was a mantra-like melody that I sang to the words “you are mommy’s sweetie pie, sweetie pie”. The melodic motive was short and simple and I repeated it with a gentle tone as long as the baby fell asleep on my arms. It would have been great if I had realized this when I was still pregnant – I would have sung something that touches my soul, not some ready-made lullaby that doesn’t feel like my own. So, maybe this is given but: sing to the embryo and the baby the songs that you, yourself, like!
Song as part of every-day activities
ENTERTAINING DIAPER CHANGE
One two three, one two three, ding ding ding ding, bum bum BEEEEEP! That was my elaborate poetic song that I sang to my 2-month-old son when changing his diapers. I sang this song until we switched from tape diapers to diaper pants. Although still, every once in a while, this masterpiece of mine comes to life with its bum claps and my toddler starts smiling widely. You can find many diaper changing songs on google but honestly, I was lazy to start learning anything new so I just made up my own. When changing diapers it is good if you clap the baby’s hands or feet together with the song’s rhythm and maybe roll your lips on his/her tummy. And the words can really be silly like in mine. As the months went by the same poem/song created a routine-like, entertaining experience that the boy clearly enjoyed.
LET’S BRUSH OUR TEETH NICE AND CLEAN
Brushing the kid’s teeth is necessary in every day life which can be agonizing for both the adult and the child. Often times the little one doesn’t like the toothbrush being stuck into the mouth, especially when they are teething. We want to do the brushing quickly and get him/her to bed so that we can get our own short but sweet “me time”. This teeth brushing routine can be made a nice interactive moment at its best. My “Hammasharja, hammastahna” (“Toothbrush, Toothpaste”) song has become one of those nice encounters. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this video it goes pretty well. Try this at home if it inspires you, and make up your own words! It is important to repeat the same song every night so that the child starts to recognize it and expect it.
ON THE ROAD
Having a traveling baby or a toddler in the car for long trips can be stressful for every driving parent. My trick in these situations is to sing a few simple, familiar children songs on constant repeat. They could be songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider” since they are all time favorites and everyone knows the words by heart from their own childhood. And holy moly, these songs seem to really help! They do calm down the baby. Although sometimes you have to prepare yourself to sing these songs to the very end of the trip since as soon as you stop singing the crying starts again. If this happens it might be a good idea, in order to save your sanity (and others’ in the car), to learn a few more songs (and make up your own!).
LET’S CLEAN UP!
At Funky Monkey Club we have a cleaning song that works perfectly in every music class. The parents sing it to their children at home as well and they have reported us with good results. “Hey, we’re cleaning up, we’re tidying it up, we like it neat at Funky Monkey Club”. When the song starts playing the children behave like Pavlov’s dogs; the stuff is being collected from the floors and carried to their designated containers finished by a roaring applause. Yippee, cleaning up is FUN!
Sing along to your favorite music
If you want to play recorded music to your child that is great but if you sing along it makes it even better! And who says that one must play only kids songs to kids? Choose sometimes your favorite music, be it Pink or Justin Timberlake or some jazz or classical music. Make sure you sing or hum along and throw yourself into the music! Even better if you dance as well and take the child to your arms or hold her/him by the hand. The joy of music takes you both on a lovely ride. Test it out and go for it!
It would be nice to hear your own experiences and tips about how you sing to/with children. How do you get your child to jump into the world of music?