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23 Best Lullabies to Soothe Baby to Sleep

From classic melodies to modern songs, these baby lullabies (with lyrics!) will help get baby ready for bed.
ByRose Walano
Updated
July 14, 2021
Illustration of open window showing crescent moon in night sky.
Image: Shutterstock

You don’t need the voice of an angel to sing baby to sleep with lullabies. Regardless of your ability to hold a tune (or lack thereof), singing may just be the easiest way to soothe a child, not to mention a beautiful bonding experience between parent and baby. What’s more, the music may have some desirable pre-bedtime physical effects; a study found that lullabies can reduce a baby’s heart and respiration rates, setting the stage for a more restful night. But of course, there are only so many times you can sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”—though, it’s one of our favorites!). If you’re looking for new baby lullabies, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve rounded up the most beautiful lullaby songs for kids of all ages, including tried-and-true classics (“Hush, Little Baby”) and modern options too (Disney’s “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand”). Whether you’re looking for traditional lullabies, catchy melodies with meaningful words, an Irish lullaby or a French one, we’ve got them all here—complete with videos so you can teach yourself a few beautiful lullaby songs you may not know yet. Scroll to see our 23 favorite baby lullabies—plus some lullaby lyrics to learn.

1. “Hush, Little Baby”

Why we love it

This classic baby lullaby promises that you’ll be there for baby, no matter what. Of course, parents would buy their little love the moon and the stars if they could, but all baby really wants or needs is your pledge of love and affection.

Lullaby lyrics

“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird
And if that mockingbird don’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
And if that diamond ring is brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass…”

2. “Frère Jacques”

Why we love it

Who doesn’t remember this classic French lullaby? While technically more of a morning song—“Morning bells are ringing, Brother John!”—“Frère Jacques” has long been considered a lullaby, and who are we to argue? Sung softly, it will instantly lull babies to sleep. (We also love it as a song to sing to slightly older children who are afraid of the dark. The sun will come soon enough!) Better yet? These lullaby lyrics offer a great way to introduce babies and toddlers to a second language.

Lullaby lyrics

“Frère Jacques, frère Jacques
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines
Sonnez les matines
Ding dang dong
Ding dang dong”

“Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John,
Morning bells are ringing!
Morning bells are ringing!
Ding dang dong
Ding dang dong”

3. “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby)”

Why we love it

Though written in 1913 for the musical Shameen Dhu, the Irish lullaby—its subtitle is “That’s an Irish Lullaby,” after all—feels like a folk song passed down from Irish mum to Irish mum through the generations. And the giggle-worthy chorus? Infectious.

Lullaby lyrics

“Over in Killarney, many years ago
My mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low
Just a simple little ditty, in her good old Irish way
And I’d give the world if she could sing that song of hers today
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral
Too-ra-loo-ra-li
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral
Hush now don’t you cry…”

4. “Cradle Song”

Why we love it

You can’t round up a list of the best baby lullabies without “Cradle Song,” commonly referred to as “Brahms’ Lullaby,” as it was composed by Johannes Brahms. While you may know the melody, you probably don’t know all of the lyrics—and you must, because you’ll be singing it to your little one soon enough( if you haven’t already)!

Lullaby lyrics

“Lullaby and goodnight,
With roses bestride
With lilies bedecked, ’neath baby’s sweet bed
May thou sleep, may thou rest, may thy slumber be blest
May thou sleep, may thou rest, may thy slumber be blest…”

5.“Rock-a-Bye Baby”

Why we love it

No, we’re not talking about the Pitbull song. (Though that one’s also undeniably catchy.) Rather, we’re singing the famous Mother Goose melody from the 18th century. That’s why it’s so easy to follow along (even if the lyrics are slightly creepy and dark!). This lullaby song will have baby drifting off to sleep before you know it.

Lullaby Lyrics:

“Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the baby will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.”

6. “Sleep, Baby, Sleep”

Why we love it

This lullaby song provides such sweet visuals. Who wouldn’t want to nod off to the image of their mother shaking the “dreamland tree” so dreams slowly fall around them like leaves? One of the most beautiful lullabies, for sure.

Lullaby Lyrics

“Sleep, baby, sleep
Your father tends the sheep
Your mother shakes the dreamland tree
And from it fall sweet dreams for thee
Sleep, baby, sleep
Sleep, baby, sleep.”

7. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

Why we love it

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is iconic because it speaks truths. Every child looks up at the sky and tries to understand the stars! (For that matter, plenty of adults do too.) Sing this baby lullaby right before bed, when your cutie is cuddled up and wistfully looking out the window, admiring those celestial spheres in all their glory.

Lullaby lyrics

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are…”

8. “You Are My Sunshine”

We we love it

Technically, the beloved chorus to this song doesn’t reveal the whole story. In full context, it’s actually about serious heartbreak—which is why parents have typically skipped to the somewhat lighter lines of this 1939 country tune by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell. Still, children are the bright spots in their parents’ lives, and this baby lullaby can serve as a sunny reminder of how special our kiddos really are.

Lullaby lyrics

“The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away…”

9. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Why we love it

Though it isn’t known for certain, many historical scholars believe “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was written with allusions to the Underground Railroad, the freedom movement that helped fugitive slaves escape to the North, making this tender lullaby song even more soulful.

Lullaby lyrics

“Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home

I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Coming for to carry he home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home…”

10. “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

Why we love it

Of all of Disney’s beautiful lullabies, this one, featured in the 1950 animated film Cinderella, may just be one of our favorites. The message: With a little faith, everything is possible. It encourages kids to keep dreaming, and we believe only good can come from that.

Lullaby lyrics

“A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep

Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true…”

11. “Danny Boy”

Why we love it

While this song is known and beloved, many are surprised to learn that it wasn’t originally an Irish lullaby. The first version of “Danny Boy” was written in 1910 by an English lawyer and lyricist, Frederic Weatherly. Later, his Irish-born sister-in-law shared the song “Londonderry Air" with him, and in response, he changed the tune and rhyme scheme of “Danny Boy” to fit the same lilting pattern. Even if you’re not of the Emerald Isle, who can resist the instant nostalgia of this baby lullaby? It’s whimsical and wistful, which makes it, in our humble opinion, all the more sincere when sung.

Lullaby lyrics

“Oh, Danny boy,
The pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
'Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so…”

12. “All the Pretty Horses”

Why we love it

If you’re looking for a baby lullaby to rock your child to sleep with, “All the Pretty Horses” is a gorgeous choice. The popular version of today talks about all the pretty horses that the child will wake up to in the morning: “Blacks and bays, dapples and grays,” prancing just for baby.

Lullaby lyrics

“Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry
Go to sleep, my little baby
When you wake, you shall have
All the pretty little horses

Blacks and bays, dapples and greys
A coach and six white horses
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry
Go to sleep you little baby…”

13. “Baby Mine”

Why we love it

Another Disney classic, this one’s from Dumbo,—which of course you know, because who can forget the image of Dumbo’s mom, Mrs. Jumbo, rocking her floppy-eared baby to sleep in her trunk? (No, you’re crying.)

Lullaby lyrics

“Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine

Little one when you play
Don’t you mind what you say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine…”

14. “All I Have to Do Is Dream”

Why we love it

The Everly Brothers’ dreamy ditty may be about romantic love, but in this stanza, parental love could just as easily apply. Just wrap baby in your arms and start singing these lovely lines.

Lullaby lyrics

“Dream, dream, dream, dream
Dream, dream, dream, dream
When I want you in my arms
When I want you and all your charms
Whenever I want you, all I have to do is
Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream

When I feel blue in the night
And I need you to hold me tight
Whenever I want you, all I have to do is
Dream…”

15. “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)”

We we love it

Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel),” written for his daughter Alexa Ray Joel, has a powerful purpose: to remind children that, no matter what happens in life, they will never be alone. Softly sing this beautiful baby lullaby to send your darling angel off to Dreamland.

Lullaby lyrics

“Goodnight, my angel Time to close your eyes And save these questions for another day I think I know what you’ve been asking me I think you know what I’ve been trying to say I promised I would never leave you And you should always know Wherever you may go No matter where you are I never will be far away…”

16. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Why we love it

Made famous by the incomparable Judy Garland, this iconic tune from The Wizard of Oz is the ultimate modern baby lullaby. After all, Dorothy heard of the place “where trouble melts like lemon drops”—a dream world, indeed—“once in a lullaby.” This sweet song by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg will always have you clicking your heels together to run home and scoop up your loved ones in a big embrace.

Lullaby lyrics

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land thatI heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true…”

17. “Silent Night”

Why we love it

“Silent Night” is one of the prettiest holiday-themed lullabies. It’s calm and soothing for baby to listen to, and it tells the story of Christmas in the simplest and sweetest way. All parents want during the holiday season and beyond is a silent night, and this song can help them get their wish.

Lullaby lyrics

“Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace…”

And, by the way, if you’re looking for a Hanukkah-themed song to sing to your baby, consider the aptly named “Hanukkah Lullaby” by Ruth Abrams. The song itself is delicate and twinkling, and it can be accompanied by Abrams’ gorgeously illustrated—and informative—book about the holiday.

18. “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”

Why we love it

The traditional Scottish folk song may have been written about a man—Charles Edward Stuart, or “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” to be exact. Some believe this ditty originated after he was exiled following defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. But since the subject is ambiguous, the song can double as a love song, and a soft one at that—perfect for lulling a baby to sleep.

Lullaby lyrics

“My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me

My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
Well, my Bonnie lies over the ocean
Yeah, bring back my Bonnie to me…”

19. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”

Why we love it

The Beatles’ early hit is as dreamy as other traditional lullaby songs, and the lyrics? Just as appropriate for parents to sing to their little one. Grab hold of your sweetie’s hand and sing away. (Runner-up: “Hey Jude” is equally charming, with a message of resilience.)

Lullaby lyrics

“Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something
I think you’ll understand
When I say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand…”

20. “La La Lu”

Why we love it

One last Disney entry to our list of the best baby lullabies. Perhaps because it’s so short and sweet, “La La Lu” is often overlooked among Disney classics. But this beauty, actually written as a lullaby for Lady and the Tramp, boasts stunning imagery like, “I’ll sweep the stardust for you.” How beautiful is that?

Lullaby lyrics

“La la lu, La la lu
Oh, my little star sweeper
I’ll sweep the stardust for you

La la lu, La la lu
Little soft fluffy sleeper
Here comes a pink cloud for you

La la lu, la la lu
Little wandering angel
Fold up your wings, close your eyes…”

21. “Puff the Magic Dragon”

Why we love it

Peter, Paul and Mary’s wistful song about a little boy named Jackie and his dragon friend, Puff, is the definition of whimsical. Though the ending is sad—Jackie grows up, and Puff goes back to his cave—what child wouldn’t want a friendly dragon friend? It’s the ultimate fantasy, and one of the ’60s most enduring songs.

Lullaby Lyrics

“Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist
In a land called Honnalee
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff…”

22. “Your Song”

Why we love it

With a name like “Your Song,” Elton John’s modern masterpiece can easily be sung as a baby lullaby. It always sounds personalized; start singing it when your child’s a baby, and they may always believe it was written just for them. (We’ll never tell.)

Lullaby lyrics

“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy, if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, ha
But then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song, and this one’s for you…”

23. “Sweet Dreams (Goodnight Song)”

Why we love it

Our last pick for the best lullaby songs is special for many reasons, but mostly because it’s a duet! You sing the first line, your child sings the next and then you keep going until your little one falls asleep.

Lullaby lyrics

“Leader: Goodnight to you
Baby: Goodnight to me
Leader: Now, close your eyes and go to sleep
Goodnight, sleep tight, sweet dreams tonight Goodnight, I love you.”

Add these sweet lullaby songs to your bedtime routine, and you and baby are sure to benefit. Singing, humming and sharing the sweet sound of a song will help your little one relax before drifting off to sleep—plus, it’ll give you both some much-needed snuggle time. Did your favorite baby lullaby not make the cut? No worries. As long as you’re sharing lyrics of love and a mellow tune, baby will soak up every melodic moment. Enjoy!

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