Monday, May 10, 2010

Rock Around the Cradle

So I realize it's not your typical mommy-to-be worry, but when I was expecting my first baby I worried about what sort of music she would spend her childhood listening to. I have ... um ... opinions about these things, you see, and I was a little bit afraid of what I might find in the children's section at the music store. Turns out, there's a whole lot of really great kids' music out there, much to my pleasant surprise!

Here's a rundown on some of our favorites over the last 5 years, some of which I have been listening to with my children from Day One. My kids love this music, and I love this music - which says a whole lot when all I hoped for at first was to find something for my kids that I could tolerate, too. And I think any one of these albums would make a fun, useful, not-your-typical baby shower gift.

The first kids' music I ever bought was The Innocence Mission's album Now The Day is Over. I desperately wanted to learn some lullabies, and this album is all full of them. Really good lullabies, too, like "Stay Awake" (from "Mary Poppins") and "Moon River" (from "Breakfast at Tiffany's") and of course "Now The Day is Over", all sung by Karen Peris' dreamy voice; and most of which I have in turn sung my children to sleep with.

For another gentle-but-fun album for the daytime, I highly recommend Elizabeth Mitchell (no, no, not the one from "Lost"). I've only heard her latest children's album, You Are My Little Bird, but I just learned of a couple others (You Are My Flower and You Are My Sunshine) that I'm simply going to have to give a listen. I love that she sings in Korean and Spanish and Chinese, and that she has some of her song lyrics with guitar chords available on her website (

If you're in the folk music groove (it's what I grew up with!) go look up this oldie-but-goodie, American Folk, Game and Activity Songs for Children by the legendary Pete Seeger. Then listen to him sing "All Around the Kitchen" or (my favorite) "Jolly is the Miller" and just try not to dance around with your little ones.

If you're looking for something a little more rockin', these are two I keep coming back to. Lots of different artists, styles and moods on these compilations. Some revamped childhood favorites, some totally new, but almost all of them really singable and danceable and completely delightful.

Okay, read for some video fun?

This song is from They Might Be Giants Here Come the 123s. The whole album is about numbers, including a song for each of the numbers from zero through nine, even numbers and infinity. The whole album is fun ("We share the same omniverse; please clean your room we share the same omniverse" - from "One Everything"), educational ("The definition of zero is the mathematical value between positive and negative values" - from "Zeros") and sometimes unexpected (who knew there really is such a thing as a triops?!).

And while we're on They Might Be Giants, here's a song from their newest kids' album, Here Comes Science:

We are loving this album around here, too. Before I had kids I never thought I'd be dancing around my kitchen to songs about Speed and Velocity or Paleontologists; and I'm pretty sure They Might Be Giants is the only band around that could make me want to!

I recently discovered that another old high-school favorite of mine has been making kids' albums, Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America is known as Caspar Babypants to my kids. Another who'd've thought situation. Here's one of my favorites from the album More Please:

There's so much more out there, I know, but these are some of the favorites that we've discovered and loved to share with friends.

How about you? What's your favorite music to listen to with your kids?


  1. We like TMBG's kid stuff, too, as well as Imagination Movers. Lately, my (3yo) son is into the Glee soundtracks, and there are a few a capella albums that have primary songs on them that he goes crazy for.

  2. I also love TMBG. We have also recently discovered a great local band here in San Diego called Hullabaloo ( and love them!

  3. We used a lot of Laurie Berkner when we were doing a toddler "music makers" class. She's been around for quite a while and has some really fun songs. I'm sure most everyone has heard of her. Great guitar music.

  4. Thanks for these suggestions. I'm excited to check them out. We love Elizabeth Mitchell's You are My Little Bird at our house.