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Every culture has its own lullabies, some based in ancient folklore, some more modern, some dealing with catastrophe, others uplifting and positive. Lullabies are one of the most widely recognised song forms that transcend generations and cultures and have a much deeper influence on babies than many parents are immediately aware of. Lullabies not only help the baby to calm down and sleep, but also provide the following benefits:
There's no escaping the fact that positive bonding happens when a baby is calmed or soothed by singing a lullaby to him/her. This is also one area where the father has as good an opportunity to develop bonds with his baby as the mother does, so dad needs to get involved too.
Lullabies do not have to be limited to simply singing them. You can associate cradling and rocking, pictures, hand actions, lighting, toys etc., to the lullaby thus reinforcing the positive associations the baby will have with the various lullabies that you sing.
In most instances, when a baby hears a lullaby it is normally in a soothing and calming environment. Thus the baby associates the sounds and melodies of particular lullabies with positive images and feelings in much the same way many of us as adults associate songs we hear with feelings and periods in our lives. This can help to reassure them when they are stressed or in an unfamiliar environment.
Lullabies themselves are usually very simple and often use rhythmic, repeating melodies and verses that are almost hypnotic in nature. Their very purpose is to help calm and relax your baby and put him/her to sleep, so try to sing the lullaby in a soothing, calming environment (think about background noise, lighting, clothing the baby has on, etc.) and don't worry about your singing voice, as in all likelihood the baby doesn't mind.
If you're uncomfortable singing, even to your baby when there's no one else around, then pick out a couple of lullabies and practice singing them by yourself when you're completely alone (in the car while driving is a good place). Once you know the lullabies well enough, you can start by humming the tune then gradually moving on to singing the lullaby to your baby. If you're really feeling conscious, then you might find purchasing a CD of lullabies and simply singing along might be a better option.