Lullabies exist in almost every language, and for most of us, lullabies provide a backdrop to our childhoods. If (and when) we become parents ourselves, we try to pass on the lullabies our parents sang to us. Interestingly, they have a unique place in every culture across the world. This is because babies prefer their mother’s voice, and the ones they heard before they were born. Lullabies are also important because children prefer the languages they heard before birth.
Different regions, different lullabies, the same larger goal
Lullabies are local and closely tied to each region. This is because they’re familiar, and help babies bond with something they can already relate to: their mother tongue.
Do we need a beautiful voice to sing lullabies to our children?
It’s important for parents to know that they don’t have to be great musicians to sing to their children. One of the best ways to soothe a baby is to sing a soft melody that drowns out external noises and lets the baby focus on the relaxing, familiar sound. While there is a place for recorded music, there’s something special about you singing to your child.
How do we begin?
For many babies, lullabies are their first introduction to music. Andresearch shows that people develop affinity to music they are exposed to frequently.
A starting place could be lullabies in one’s own language, but that can slowly extend to different languages, and different styles of music. It’s also important to remember that not all music for children has to be children’s music. Children have the ability to understand and appreciate so much music beyond the realm of nursery rhymes and simple songs. The more exposure a baby or a child has, the better for him or her. So if you’re a new parent, or a caregiver, try to introduce as many different lullabies as you can, in different languages!
(A version of this article, by SaPa Co-Founders Bindu Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam, appeared in The New Indian Express.)
A few months ago, SaPa joined hands with Duroflex on a special Sounds of Sleep episode. The idea was to unearth India’s rich collection of lullabies and teach children and grownups about the value of rest. Students from SaPa, along with Bindu and Ambi, recreated the beautiful Tamil lullaby, Enamma Thozhi. Watch the video now.