what music helps a baby sleep

What Music Helps A Baby Sleep?

Getting your baby to sleep for many mums can feel like a complete mystery. Not all babies are the same, so something that soothes one baby to sleep may not necessarily work for you when getting a newborn to sleep.

Some parents play music to their babies as it helps get them off to dreamland, yet for some mums, music doesn’t work, so they prefer to play white noise for their babies. Such examples of white noise for babies include: hoovering, blasting the hairdryer, putting on the washing machine and even running water. That constant background noise may help your little one drift off to sleep.

We’ve got various baby sleep music ideas for you that may help and soothe your baby into dreamland. These ideas come from members of our Parent Squad, so these are baby sleep music examples that have been tried, tested, and are successful for a variety of mums.

Baby Nursery FAQs

While music is a wonderful sleep cue to include in your nighttime routine, some experts suggest that it only be played for 30 minutes while the baby falls asleep and not throughout the night. Additionally, while lullaby music can often be soothing, the words can sometimes be distracting, so choose your music carefully. Soft classical music can be the best kind of music to ensure that a baby gets the rest he needs.

Some parents love the white noise machine so much that they are tempted to leave it on all night so that the baby can sleep uninterrupted. However, most pediatricians and experts agree that a little bit of white noise goes a long way. As with most “sound” sleep cues like music and white noise, it’s best to use when the baby is falling asleep and either turn it off half an hour later or set the timer to shut off on its own.

White noise should be no louder than a quiet dishwasher or vacuum on the lowest setting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a white noise machine should be no louder than 50 decibels and at least 7 feet away from the baby’s sleep space.

Ideally, your baby takes a break from music in his waking hours to absorb all of the other sounds the world has to offer. This not only helps his development but also, too much exposure to loud music can hurt his cute little ears over time.

Sometimes when it comes to babies, things seem counterintuitive. This is true for sleep, as noise can help get a baby to fall asleep. Soft music because of its soothing qualities and white noise as it blocks out other noises (like traffic, neighbours, other kids in the house, etc.). So when it comes to which sound is better for your little one, it comes down to personal preference.

Ways to Use Music to Get Your Baby to Sleep

When it comes to singing your baby a soothing lullaby, you don't give it any prior thought. You may have even sung to your baby when she was in the womb, as it is something that comes so naturally to most moms. 

With a newborn, keeping her soothed and calm through loving care is of utmost importance. We swaddle, rock, and hold our babies close against us. The same is true for singing a soothing lullaby to get your baby to sleep. 

Including music in a baby's sleep routine is common practice for most moms. There are two ways you can use different types of music to help your baby sleep.

Using music during the wake to sleep transition.

In this scenario, soothing lullabies are being sung, or music is being played when you're trying to wind down your baby to prepare for sleep.

 Even when babies show signs of sleepiness, having a transition period between play and sleep time is necessary. This could include closing the blinds, dimming the lights, reading a book together, and playing relaxing background music.

Utilising these methods is a great way to let your baby know, "It's time to sleep." This ultimately makes them more sleepy before performing the last steps of your baby's bedtime routine. 

Parents who use music in this way often turn the music off before leaving the room, preferring a quiet sleep environment for their children.

Utilising music as a way to help your baby fall asleep. 

The other option for using music to help your baby sleep is to have it on while your baby falls asleep. 

Families who have outside noise (such as traffic or older children playing) may find music or white noise helpful to drown it out. 

Others may notice that it soothes their child as they become independent sleepers. There are even white noise machines made specifically with babies in mind.

Some express concern that playing music while your baby falls asleep will become a crutch. The argument is that music can become a sleep prop that the baby will always need to fall asleep. 

So, if down the road, your baby starts daycare or sleeps at grandma's, this music-sleep association may cause them to have a hard time falling asleep without it. 

But, if you read our article, "5 Myths and a Truth About Baby Sleep", you'll find out that not all sleep props are bad.

The Happiest Baby argues the opposite. They state that white noise "makes good sleep even better."

The Top 3 Music Choices to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

It won't come as a surprise that there are certain types of music you won't want to play for your baby. That can also include ensuring the music is at an appropriate volume.

The following three types of music are excellent choices for baby sleep. Played or sung between 45 - 65 decibels (quieter than the sound of a vacuum cleaner) will ensure safety for your baby's ears and the perfect calming effect for the deep sleep they need.

Live-Sung Lullabies

This is the simplest and most effective choice for calming your baby. Science Daily reports that cognitive neuroscientists found "lullabies soothe both moms and babies simultaneously."

The presence of a mother or father offering their soothing touch and voice are two of the best things you can do for your baby to help their drowsiness fade to sleep. It doesn't matter which one you sing, or even if you make it up. 

Got the opposite of mad chops? Your baby doesn't care! Pitch and volume will most likely come intuitively for you.

White Noise

White noise isn't necessarily what you'd call music. Instead, it's a combination of various frequencies that humans can hear. These may come in ocean waves, heartbeats, or nature sounds, including animal noises. 

Continuous noise such as rain is thought to be the most effective. Luckily, many white noise machines offer different choices so you can find what your baby likes best.

If you search for white noise machines for your baby, you will find many choices. It can be overwhelming and hard to choose. Remember that it doesn't have to be fancy to work wonders for your baby's sleep. These are some considerations as you're making a choice:

  • portability
  • adjustable volume with the lowest level being 50 dB or under
  • automatic shut off
  • multiple sound options

Soft Classical Music

Classical music is another great music choice to help your baby fall asleep. The absence of lyrics makes it a distraction-free choice. Remember that the pitch of the music shouldn't be too high or too low. 

This goes for classical music, too. Percussion instruments don't lend themselves well to baby sleep, so look for classical music that offers gentle tones.

Using the right kind of classical music will calm your baby's heartbeat and improve overall sleep.

Combining Soothing Lullabies and Weighted Sleep Sacks

We have learned soothing music can get your baby to sleep, but how can we take it one step further to ensure the best sleep possible? Adding Dreamland Baby wearable weighted blankets! 

These weighted sleep sacks are designed specifically for infants, perfectly calibrated at 0.8 pounds, 1.5 and 2 pounds. Dreamland Baby harnesses the power of deep touch stimulation, naturally reducing stress and increasing relaxation through the gentle weight. 

Lullabies to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

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Singing lullabies to your baby is a great way to soothe her, bond with her, and settle her down when bedtime approaches. The ritual of singing or humming a song can be a key part of your little one's bedtime routine, letting her know that the time for sleep is coming soon. And, as she grows, you can also sing these lullaby songs together.

If you’re worried about your singing voice, remind yourself that your baby is not judging you and is comforted by the sound of your voice. You can also sometimes play music or music videos to help put your baby to sleep on those days when you want to give your voice a rest.

To give you some inspiration for what to sing, we’ve gathered some classic lullabies and songs from the film and popular music that may be used as lullabies.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

Why we love this lullaby: With lyrics based on an early nineteenth-century poem by Jane Taylor and music based on “Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman,” a French melody from 1761, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a perennial favourite. The words encourage dreaming, wonder, and imagination — all the things a small child would experience when looking up at the night sky.

As your little one gets bigger, you can also teach him the hand movements of this popular song. You might remember these from your childhood or want to search online for some examples.

“Cradle Song” (Brahms’s Lullaby) or “Wiegenlied”

Why we love this lullaby: Another classic lullaby, “Cradle Song” (also commonly known by its first line, “Lullaby and goodnight”), was composed by Johannes Brahms and published in 1868 as “Wiegenlied” (German for cradle song) for one of his former flames on the birth of her second child. 

The original German lyrics are based on a folk poem. Translated into English, it’s just as beautiful, encouraging your little one to lie down, rest, and fall asleep.

“All the Pretty Little Horses”

We love this lullaby: Most likely African American in origin, “All the Pretty Little Horses”, promises that if the baby goes to sleep, she’ll have “all the pretty horses” when she awakes. The lullaby song has been recorded by many popular artists and even inspired a novel of the same name.

The version of the music in the video above is both touching and haunting. You might also find it relaxing yourself to sing this song to your baby to help put her to sleep.

“All Through the Night”

We love this lullaby: This Welsh song is a well-known hymn, but it also doubles as a lullaby song. It’s sometimes also considered a Christmas carol. It was first published in 1784, and it was later translated into several languages, including English.

The lyrics encourage your little one to sleep, promising protection from guardian angels and loved ones.

“When You Wish Upon a Star”

Why we love this lullaby: This tender song appears in the classic Disney animated film Pinocchio, which was originally released in 1940. It’s one of the highest-ranked Disney film songs and won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The lyrics are easy to remember. It encourages reaching for the stars, following your heart, and dreaming big.

“Baby Mine”

Why we love this lullaby: From the 1941 Disney film Dumbo, “Baby Mine” is sung by Dumbo’s mother, a caged circus elephant, as she cradles her little one with her trunk.

The tune and the lyrics are perfect as a lullaby song and reinforce the bond between parent and child, the comfort of being taken care of and watched over.

“You Are My Sunshine”

We love this lullaby: Although not originally a lullaby, “You Are My Sunshine” has become one because of its touching lyrics. Originally a country song, in recent years, it’s appeared in many TV commercials with babies. It’s considered one of the most-covered songs in American popular music.

“Over the Rainbow”

Why we love this lullaby: This tune from The Wizard of Oz has become one of the most famous film songs for a reason: It’s heartfelt, and it’s about making dreams come true. Composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg, “Over the Rainbow” won an Academy Award in 1939.

“Stay Awake”

Why we love this lullaby: From the endearing Mary Poppins film, this lullaby, written by the Sherman brothers, is sung by the incomparable nanny Mary Poppins. 

Mary can’t get the Banks children to sleep after a day filled with activity, so she uses a bit of reverse psychology in this song, which works wonders on Jane and Michael as their eyelids get heavy, and they eventually fall peacefully asleep.

For fans of the film, this would be a cute way to sing your baby to sleep.

Other baby sleep music and lullabies suggestions:

  • Smooth jazz usually does the trick.
  • White noise with womb sounds on YouTube never fails if he’s overtired.
  • My youngest always used to settle to the sound of a hairdryer.
  • Soft piano music. The ‘Sleep, baby sleep’ playlist on Spotify is a favourite.
  • Anything with bagpipes! Highland Cathedral, Last of the Mohicans, anything by Clannad – works for us with both kids.
  • Mozart
  • Rain noise on Alexa echo dot
  • Disney piano on YouTube
  • Thanks to her daddy, my seven-month-old has always settled to Metallica.
  • BabyTV – it’s like a magic wand for our youngest
  • George Ezra – Hold My Girl, and Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved, are guaranteed to settle my ten month old and put her to sleep
  • My little girl loves Elvis.
  • With my eldest, it was anything by Pink Floyd. With my second, it was Disturbed, the sound of silence. I swear that song was like a switch for him! My youngest doesn't seem to have a preference, just any music.
  • Henry Hoover video on YouTube
  • Classic FM
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Sound of running water and waterfalls
  • I swear by the Moshi twilight app. The sleep stories and music are brilliant.

Benefits Of Baby Music For Sleep

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Like listening to certain types of music and calming sounds such as the ocean or thunderstorms can help adults fall asleep, certain sounds can also soothe a baby’s brain and help put him into a peaceful state.

Lullaby music for babies is a particularly popular choice since lullabies are specifically designed to promote a sense of comfort and familiarity. This is extremely beneficial when you’re trying to help your infant unwind and drift off into a deep sleep or when you’re beginning to sleep train your child or transition him from co-sleeping to sleeping independently.

Just be aware that not all lullaby music is ideal for bedtime. Some are more fun, upbeat and playful, best reserved for daytime and car rides. For bedtime, choose a collection of lullabies with soothing instruments and a background ambience that won’t overstimulate your baby’s brain.

Another fantastic choice for bedtime music is classical music since it doesn’t contain any lyrics, which can be distracting and overwhelming for a baby’s brain. Classical music also contains soothing, gentle instruments and tones, as opposed to heavy percussion instruments – there’s a long-held (though mostly anecdotal) belief that classical music can even help boost a baby’s brain development both in and out. Of the womb! 

Our nursery projector and sound system is a great option for playing music, as it features ambient sounds, two lullabies and two classical music compositions, and three image cartridges. L

Benefits Of White Noise For Baby Sleep

White noise machines create a comfortable, womb-like environment that soothes anxious infants, encouraging them to calm down and fall asleep sooner – and helps them stay asleep for longer periods.

Why does white noise work so well? Babies cycle in and out of periods of deep and light sleep. Every 20 minutes or so, they are in a light sleep cycle and can wake easily. 

White noise works to silence any background noise or environmental disturbance that may otherwise cause your baby to wake up during one of these light sleep periods. The calming noise provides comfort that can get your baby to fall back into a deep sleep.

You can incorporate music and white noise into your baby’s sleep routine at any time. Your baby is never too young to experience a peaceful, comforting way to drift off into a restful slumber. 

Meanwhile, you’ll reap the benefits of a more enjoyable, fuss-free bedtime routine with your little one.

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