I love music for so many reasons. To lift a mood, to create a mood, to motivate, to soothe, to sing with, to dance to, to bring people together. To help put my baby to sleep. To calm him in the car. To entertain him when tensions run high. To set a tone for family fun.
We listen to a lot of music in our household. For the most part, my husband and I continue to play and enjoy music that’s not specifically made for kids. We like our indie rock and pop, The Beatles of course, some coffeehouse-style guitar tunes when the mood is right. Classical makes its way around now and then (I should play it more!), maybe some jazz for a dinner party, and my husband mixes it up with a lot of rock, too. (Personally, I can hardly listen to Slash’s singing for more than five minutes, but to each his own. They say variety is the spice of life, right?)
Well, lucky for us, our toddler loves music, too. Every time I start playing Beirut’s song “Gibraltar,” he is immediately inspired to drum along. If we put on a song with a good beat while he is eating dinner, he bobs his head right along and might even have to take a minute for a dance break. The kid’s got rhythm and the drum set to prove it.
In our first weeks home from the hospital with our new baby boy, it probably goes without saying that we had no idea what we were doing. I’ve heard of babies who “mostly sleep during the night” and those who “sleep through the night at some point,” but I haven’t yet lived with any of them in my own home. Our dear son was a night owl from day one.
Anyway, our newborn was the “up all night” sort of baby, and we were always trying something to get him to go to sleep in the wee hours of the night. We played a lot of classical guitar songs in the beginning. That seemed to suit him for a while. But then, ever-changing as babies are, he was no longer soothed by the same tunes, and we tried other things.
1 Renee & Jeremy’s It’s a Big World
Somewhere along the way, my husband heard of an album by Renee & Jeremy, and we gave it a whirl. Well, folks, we were onto something! The acoustic stylings on their “It’s a Big World” album were a hit with our baby, and we played it again and again. And again. Around the three to six months timeframe of our boy’s life, he was quite unhappy to ride in the car. At one point when he was crying so very hard in his car seat, we got this album started up, and as soon as he heard the first few bars of the song, he was silent. Like magic.
Luckily, this album is easy on the ears. We were singing along quickly. To this day, I sing him an adapted version of Renee & Jeremy’s song “Powder Blue Solo” every night. I bet your little one will love this album, too!
Once you listen to “It’s a Big World,” you must check out another one of their albums called “A Little Love.” For me, it does not have the longevity of the first album, but it’s sure to bring you a smile. My personal favorite is their version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give it Away,” done as a lullaby. Guys. That’s just funny.
2 Twenty Trucks’ Truck Tunes and Truck Tunes 2
Growing up so fast, as babies do, my son quickly developed a love for all things that go. Cars, trucks, trains, boats…you name it, he’s interested. Construction trucks seem to be a sure hit for all young vehicle enthusiasts, and our boy is no exception. I think it’s something about all the moving parts and the relationship that construction trucks have to dirt!
Enter “Truck Tunes” and “Truck Tunes 2” from Twenty Trucks. I think we first landed on these gems via YouTube, because they also have video of the trucks to go along with the songs. Personal favorites in our house are “Monster Truck,” “Dozer,” and “Dump Truck.” But really, who can pick a favorite? These are hits that the whole family can enjoy. They’ve done different songs in different music styles, so if one doesn’t suit your fancy, you will probably prefer the next song.
Questionable moods in our car’s backseat are quickly turned around for us with a play through the “Truck Tunes” repertoire. Just press play on the “Dump Truck” song and try not to sing along.
3 Big Block Singsong’s Greatest Hits
Now to really mix it up with some imaginative lyrics, we turn to Big Block Singsong’s Greatest Hits. Apparently, this is a creation of Disney Junior, and it’s on TV. To tell you the truth, I don’t like the Big Block Singsong videos, and I think they take away from the enjoyment of listening to these songs. The beats are catchy, the lyrics are hilarious, and they give mom and dad something to think about while your little ones are entertained.
All that being said, these songs aren’t for the faint of heart. They can be too much for some. (I think my dad might start bringing his ear plugs to our house if we were to play it again when he is visiting.) But at the right time, we find a little Big Block Singsong is something fun to listen to for our family of three. My personal favorite is the “Hair” song. Being Disney-related, maybe we are the last family on the planet to know about Big Block Singsong, but I suppose not having cable can do that to a person. If you’re like us, then this album can become a fun surprise for you, too.
Maybe you’ll even inspire a little song-writing of your own. Last night, after listening to some Big Block Singsong on the car ride home, our son was eager to pull out the melodica and recorders at home to make his own music. At one point, the whole family was in on it, and we had our first melodica-recorder family jam session. It might be too early to say, but I think we have a future hit on our hands. I’ll let you know when the album drops.
What music do you like to listen to with your kids?