Singing through the day

Earlier today I was cutting a two year old’s toe nails. I managed to do about four nails before he started squirming around so I made up a silly song. It made no sense, the lyrics were awful and they had the wrong rhythm for the tune (plus it was about cutting nails) but it kept him happy and still while I got the job done! Even if you think you have a terrible voice children love to hear you sing, and a few songs can be a wonderful tool to get you through the day.

If you use specific songs at certain times of day, and avoid singing them at other times, your child will very quickly learn what the songs mean. I know several children who will automatically start to tidy up when they hear the “tidy up song”, without being asked. I even know some toddlers who will sing the song to themselves and start tidying up – entirely unprompted! Using a song can take a boring chore and turn it into a game.

Songs also have a limited length and let a child know that something won’t last forever. Few toddlers enjoy having their face washed after a meal but singing “rub-a-dub” helps them to understand that the face washing will be over when the song is done. I have even known a child who hated having his face washed remind me to do it, because we had to sing the next part of the song!

When you are singing you are engaging with your child, not just doing something to them. With all the stress of parenthood it can be easy to think of things like face washing and nappy changing as tasks to get done as quickly as possible and you can almost forget that you are caring for a small person! Singing  reminds you to interact with your child and introduces a bit of fun, so you’re not just restraining them while you clean up the mess.

Finally, in order to sing you have to breathe. Singing can really help you to cope with a stressful situation, such as a crying baby. It may even calm the baby! Any song will do, a lullaby if you know one or just something you have heard on the radio. Making up your own songs can be fun as well, adapt words to suit and think up variations. Anything to distract both yourself and your baby. When you get into the habit of making up songs you will find you do so as you go round the supermarket or in the car, any situation where you need to distract or calm a child but can’t pick them up and don’t have toys to hand!

Here are some songs I like to use:

For hand and face washing before or after meals:

Wash your dirty hands,
Wash your dirty hands,
Rub-a-dub and scrub-a-dub,
And wash your dirty hands

(repeat for face)

To calm children down and get them sitting still:

I have 10 wriggly fingers and they all belong to me,
I can make them do things,
Would you like to see?
I can shut them up tight, and open them wide,
I can put them all together, or make them all hide,
I can jump them up high,
I can jump them down low,
I can fold them quietly,
And sit just so

Nappy changing:

Oh, dear what can the matter be?
We have to change your nappy,
That will make you happy,
Now that you’re nice and clean.

Doing up a baby grow after nappy changes!

1 little, 2 little, 3 little poppers
4 little, 5 little, 6 little poppers
7 little, 8 little, 9 little poppers
10 little poppers, let’s do them all up

Pop, pop, pop those poppers
Pop, pop, pop those poppers
Pop, pop, pop those poppers
10 little poppers, are all done up.

Tidy up time:

Tidy up time, tidy up time
Tidy up the toys, tidy up the toys
Let’s all be helpers, let’s all be helpers
Girls and boys, girls and boys

Silly songs

Here is an example of a song adapted one day when comforting baby triplets who were upset following their immunisations, their mum and I enjoyed taking turns to come up with new verses and the children enjoyed the singing.

What shall we do with a grumpy baby?
What shall we do with a grumpy baby?
What shall we do with a grumpy baby?
In the afternoon?

Give her a kiss and a cuddle too…

Pat her on the back and see if she burps…

If she’s hungry give her some milk…

Take her out for a walk in her pram…

Give her something fun to look at…

Dance around the room and sing a song…

Put her in bed so she’ll have a sleep…