The Power of the Lullaby

As many of our Tots Tunes and Tea + a Gig parents will already know, music can be a powerful way to engage with your child, particularly during their non-verbal development stage.  A recent piece of research from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music suggests an even more striking benefit: that singing lullabies can help mothers beat post-natal depression.

Photos by Zoe Maxwell. Taken at a Tots Tunes class

The research suggests this works by benefitting both the child and the mother and increasing communication. Although a mother with post-natal depression may lack emotional expression in their singing, the babies receive personalised stimulation as the mother intuitively regulates tempo and pitch to in line with the infant’s response. At the same time, the mother is distracted from negative thoughts and feels empowered as a parent.

Professor of Music Therapy Shannon de l’Etoile who developed the research says “Infants may be drawn to the personalised tempo and pitch of their mother, which encourages them to direct their gaze toward and ultimately communicate through this gaze”.


Here are some of our favourite lullabies from around the world.

Yo no ni Kau -  a new Tots Tunes favourite. A gorgeous Traditional lullaby originating from Nigeria, learnt from vocal group Voice (Look out for it on the next Tots Tunes album!)

Written and arranged by creative director of SoundsCreative and Tots Tunes leader, have a listen to The Wind song -  The Words were taken from a children's book.

Hush Little Baby – A classic that many of us still probably sing and have had sung to us. While the author and origin of Hush Little Baby are unknown, it is thought to have been written in the Southern states. Essentially a list of bribes and false promises, the repetitive pattern and simplicity of the song makes it ripe for improvisation and extension. The song has been recorded many, many times, including by Joan Baez, Nina Simone and more recently Regina Spektor.

Hushabye Mountain - A classic and beautiful song -  You may remember it?  this ballad was written by songwriting team Robert and Richard Sherman and appears in Albert R. Broccoli film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

A gentle breeze from Hushabye Mountain

Softly blows o'er lullaby bay.

It fills the sails of boats that are waiting--

Waiting to sail your worries away.

It isn't far to Hushabye Mountain

And your boat waits down by the key.

The winds of night so softly are sighing--

Soon they will fly your troubles to sea.

So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain.

Wave good-bye to cares of the day.

And watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain

Sail far away from lullaby bay.