I have to come clean-I’m totally that mom, the one that loves to sing at the top of her lungs with her kids. (Well most days I want to, other days I want to crawl under a blanket and hope that no one finds me so I can get more than one minute of silence!)
The funny thing is, I wasn’t always like this until I realized the great benefit of singing to your little one. It happened just a month or so into motherhood when my brother mentioned how often he sang to his infant. So, I tried it out with my little one and I haven’t stopped doing it since. I hope you’ll sing with toddlers in your life, too.
Benefits of Singing
It’s no secret that singing to children is linked with many benefits. Researcher and Professor Graham Welch outlines several benefits to singing throughout life in his research article here. He emphasizes the need to start singing early in childhood to lay a good foundation. Another key component he points out is the need for the interaction to be positive. Below is a list of the five main benefits to singing:
- Physical benefits: Welch lists several benefits, including health benefits for both your heart and lungs. He also points to evidence that singing can boost neurological connections since singing involves multiple parts of the brain.
- Psychological benefits: The author describes singing as a cathartic activity since it can be an outlet for your feelings (check out number 2 and number 4 below).
- Social benefits: When children sing together or with you, there is a sense of social belonging.
- Musical benefits: Now this one seems obvious, but think about it. If you subject your child to music at a young age, it may lead them to be in choir or band someday. Music is a skill, and if you get started early, your child will have a better chance of using it later on.
- Educational benefits: Music can have a huge impact on many facets of a child’s education. Music is linked to positive development in vocabulary, numeracy, attentional and emotional regulation, and behavior skills. That’s quite a list! If you’re looking for more ideas on helping your child increase their language/vocabulary, check out my post here.
9 Times You Should Sing with Toddlers and Why
1. Sing to teach them something new.
You probably already do this, but singing to help your kids learn something is a fun way to introduce new vocabulary or ideas. There are tons of songs that teach all kinds of skills. One of my favorites that I think is appropriate to sing right away is “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. You can point to the body parts as you sing, or help your little one (and I mean little-I started this song with my girls when they were a few weeks old) move their hands to point to their own body parts.
Another of my favorites is “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. It’s such a sweet song with simple actions. You can work on animals and animal sounds by singing “Old McDonald”. As your child gets a little older, you can sing the “ABCs”. Honestly, those are just a few of many, many songs you can sing to help your child learn new things! If you need more ideas on how to help your child learn new words, check out my article here.
2. Sing to help them celebrate.
I love to celebrate with my children! This can mean singing them “Happy Birthday” on their special day, or making up songs when they accomplish something. I used singing to potty train my eldest and she (usually) loves it. And you guys, it does not have to be rhyming or groundbreaking lyrics or a beautiful melody. Our potty training song goes like this “________(insert child’s name) goes pee on the toilet because big girls pee on the toilet.” And that’s about it. My daughter loves that I celebrate and sing with her when she does something well!
One of our favorite ways to take our singing to the next level is to use musical instruments while we sing! For the youngest musicians, I love this piano, and for the toddlers, I love this musical set
3. Sing during times of transition.
This is another classic use of singing. When kids have to transition between activities, sing about it. Sing about clean-up time, sing about putting away the dishes, sing about waking up from a nap, sing about getting in the car. Sometimes transitions are TOUGH, so singing can make it go much smoother. Try it out, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
4. Sing to help them calm down.
This is one of my very favorite uses of singing! Help your child calm down by singing to them. This can be done in a few different ways. If you know that a certain activity may produce a tantrum or frustration, you can sing to them before/during that difficult time (see #5 for more details). You can also sing to your child in response to their frustration.
Sometimes I use singing as a form of straight-up distraction. Babies, toddlers, and small children (okay, and teenagers and grown-ups) sometimes just need to be distracted by something else when they get upset by something. So for little ones, singing is a great way to help them stop focusing on whatever it is they are upset about (having to share, getting reprimanded, or maybe because they wanted the blue cup, not the red one!). This is when you start cheerfully belting out a song (preferably with actions) to help take their mind off of the bad thing.
Pick a favorite song you know they love, and go for it! Honestly, it’s not going to work every time (does anything?), but it will work a lot of the time.
If you need more ideas on how to help your little one calm down, check out my free handout here.
5. Sing during activities they have difficulty with.
This is a great way to be proactive and help PREVENT a breakdown. If you know your child does not like certain necessary activities (for my little one it was diaper changes and washing hands, to name a few).
So when you know this activity that often ends in tears is coming up, make up a silly song (yes it can be simple, I promise your wee one won’t care) that talks about that activity. And like I said, they can be real simple. (My poopy diaper song was as follows, “Cause you got a poopy diaper, a yucky, stinky, icky poopy diaper, let’s clean it up now.” It was so catchy, I heard my husband singing it around the house, even when there weren’t stinky diapers to clean!)
It’s easy to get most kids excited-if you get excited about something, they can get excited about it, too. So go on and sing your heart out! (And if that doesn’t work, here’s a link to that handout again with more ideas to help your child calm down.)
6. Sing them their own song!
When each of my girls was born, there was some point when I was awake with them in the middle of the night trying to console them. They were screaming, crying, and completely inconsolable so I tried something new-I made up a song with their name in it. Honestly, these songs aren’t my best work, but I still sing each girl their song before they go to bed each night, and they seem to love it.
If you want to be fancy, you can be like my brother and take a song you love and rewrite the lyrics, or just do my way and make up your own song (your child won’t care if it’s lame or not as long as their name is featured, it’s a game-changer!) Making up a song with their name in it will also help them learn their own name (so start doing this from a young age).
7. Sing with friends.
Singing with other children is a way to build easy interaction. As babies and toddlers, kids are still trying to figure out how to interact socially with others. It doesn’t come easily to play with others right away, so singing can be a good bridge. You can go participate in toddler singing at your library or find other programs in your town (if you’re lucky enough to have options) that help children sing and play with others. If your little one has a friend over, pop on some tunes and dance together-dancing can be wonderfully social!
8. Sing in the car.
Oh my! The car can be such a stressful place to be with little ones…SO STRESSFUL! One of my favorite go-to moves in the car (can you guess??) is singing. You can be creative in the car. You can make up your own songs (I have a car song I made up about where we might be going in the car, and it’s a big hit with the kids) or you can pop in a CD or use your Spotify, Apple Music or whatever it is you use for music.
There are tons of pre-made playlists or great CDs you can get. One of the more tolerable children’s singers that I like is Elizabeth Mitchell (check out her CD right here). She has a sweet, calming voice that won’t drive the adults in the car bonkers.
9. Sing before they go to sleep.
I think a lot of parents do this one, but if you don’t you should. I can’t believe how much this helps both my baby and my toddler fall asleep. The singing helps them calm their little brains and probably their breathing too. Singing before bedtime is still one of my favorite memories from growing up. Singing to your children before bed is just fun!
Hopefully, you have some new ideas on when to sing to your child and why it’s such a great idea. And remember, you don’t have to be a good singer or a professional songwriter to wow your kids. They won’t know the difference, they will just be making memories with you (and maybe calming down, celebrating, or learning something new). So do it-sing your heart out! (And if you absolutely can’t bring yourself to do that, buy some good songs to listen to with your kid and sing along with the professionals.) You got this, mama!
Tell me in the comments about your favorite songs to sing with your children.
Welch, G. (2012). The benefits of singing for children. Recuperado de https://www. researchgate. net/publication/273428150_The_Benefits_of_Singing_for_Children.