When it’s time to say goodnight to the little ones, it can sometimes be hard to drift off into peaceful slumber. Soft, sweet melodies with gentle instrumentals and voices help babies and young children ease their minds into a restful state.
If you’re looking for a list of lullabies to download for your kiddo, peruse our list of the best lullabies to relax your fussy little one – or yourself! – into following the footsteps of the sandman into some sweet dreams.
Table of Contents
- Pretty Little Horses – Hayley Westenra
- Goodnight Moon – Will Kimbrough
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
- Beautiful Dreamer – Roy Orbison
- Good Night – The Beatles
- Lullabye – Billy Joel
- Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby – Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, and Gillian Welch
- Forever Young – Bob Dylan
- You Were Born – Cloud Cult
- Stay Awake – Julie Andrews
- Dreamland – Mary Chapin Carpenter
- Beautiful Boy – John Lennon
- Flume – Bon Iver
- Never Grow Up – Taylor Swift
- Your Song – Elton John
- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
- Let It Be – The Beatles
- I Will Follow You into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Lean on Me – Bill Withers
- Into Dust – Mazzy Star
- Sleep – Azure Ray
- Look at Me – Damien Rice
- Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep – Rosemary Clooney
- You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers
- St. Judy’s Comet – Paul Simon
- Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
- Amazing Grace – Il Divo
- True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston
- Edelweiss – Richard Rodgers
- Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix
- Holes – Mercury Rev
- A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Lily James
- Goodnite Sweetheart Goodnite – The Spaniels
Pretty Little Horses – Hayley Westenra
If you haven’t listened to Hayley Westenra’s version of the song before, you might know this classic baby lullaby as ‘Hush-a-Bye’ or ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby.’ The song is a traditional nursery rhyme from the USA. The original version of the song is thought to probably be of African-American origin, though it’s not confirmed anywhere for sure. Westenra did adapt and add some lyrics for her version, removing some of the darker themes of the original lyrics.
Related: Check out our free-spirited playlist of music about horses.
Goodnight Moon – Will Kimbrough
While the lyrics of ‘Goodnight Moon’ are not the same as the words in the children’s book of the same name, the sentiment is very much the same. This sweet, melodic lullaby is a light jazz tune that could help your little one drift off to sleep while introducing them to beautiful musical styles.
Related: Gaze at the moon with our list of moonlight songs.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ originated as a song in the soundtrack of the musical The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland way back in the 1930s. The beautiful song plays early in the film and instantly captures the imaginations of audiences and musicians all over the world. The sweet ukulele cover by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole lends a charming touch to the already lullaby-ish song that your little one can drift off to and find themselves in the magical world of rainbows and lemon drops above the chimney tops.
Related: This sweet melody is one of the top songs for funerals.
Beautiful Dreamer – Roy Orbison
American songwriter Stephen Foster wrote the beautiful parlor song, ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ back in 1864. The sweet song lends itself perfectly to a good night setting as you rock the baby to sleep. Some claim this sweet song is actually the last song written by the composer. It has a folksy feeling, with special touches added by various artists when they record their covers. Roy Orbison’s version includes light orchestrations that soften it even more into the perfect lullaby.
Related: See more song lyrics about dreams.
Good Night – The Beatles
A tender, orchestrated ballad, ‘Good Night’ is a sweet choice from the Beatles for sending your little one off the dreamland. The song comes from The White Album and features full orchestration with a harp and soft strings. John Lennon wrote the sweet song, but Ringo Starr sings it, setting the gentle, sleepy mood for the lullaby. Lennon wrote the song for his son, Julian, though that wasn’t publicly known until 12 years after the song’s release.
Related: Night owls will love the best songs with night in the title.
Lullabye – Billy Joel
‘Lullabye’ by Billy Joel was written specifically for his daughter Alexa Ray when she was seven years old. She had asked end-of-life questions that Joel wasn’t really sure how to answer (who is!?). The song became his fuller answer for her. The song was also meant to assure her that they would always be a part of each other’s lives, even amid the trials of life.
Related: This song features on our list of the best songs about angels.
Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby – Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, and Gillian Welch
You might have heard ‘Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby’ on the soundtrack for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Emilou Harris, Alison Kraus, and Gillian Welch perform this southern folk song for the film. The original recording that can be found of the song, though, comes from 1942 when ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax recorded it. The sweet song is believed to have come out of the slavery anguish in America.
Related: Find this song on our O Brother, Where Art Thou? playlist.
Forever Young – Bob Dylan
The song ‘Forever Young’ was written by Bob Dylan as an uplifting message for his four children. There are two versions of the song by Dylan, so be sure you find the right one when you’re using it for your lullaby time! One upbeat tempo version might keep the kids awake, while this softer, slower version could help them drift off with that positive message in their hearts.
Related: Here are some songs about your children to remind you they won’t be ‘Forever Young.’
You Were Born – Cloud Cult
Coming from St. Cloud, Minnesota, Cloud Cult is an experimental indie rock band that explores a range of themes in their music, including this sweet lullaby in ‘You Were Born.’ The song uses acoustic guitar, a string section, a piano, and other soft instruments to draw into the lyrics’ tenderness and the sound’s gentleness. The song is the perfect way to drift off to dreamland.
Stay Awake – Julie Andrews
‘Stay Awake’ was written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman for Disney’s musical film Mary Poppins in 1964. The sweet lullaby, as sung by Julie Andrews, uses a mild form of reverse psychology to encourage sleepiness in the little ones to whom she sings. And, of course, with the gentleness of the song and the soft orchestration, you can’t help but nod a bit, just like the children in the film.
Dreamland – Mary Chapin Carpenter
This sweet lullaby from Mary Chapin Carpenter, ‘Dreamland,’ is a soft country song that could help your little one drift off gently. The song was released in 1992 and has remained a favorite lullaby for many since that day. “Sun goes down and says goodnight. Pull your covers up real tight. By your bed, we’ll leave a light to guide you off to dreamland.”
Beautiful Boy – John Lennon
With steel drums and rhythm toys leading the way, ‘Beautiful Boy’ is a sweet lullaby by John Lennon. The song was written for Lennon’s second son, Sean, whom he and Yoko Ono had in 1975. The song was used prominently as a feature in the film “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” The soothing song expresses how life keeps improving as time passes and we grow. The song also contains a nod to Paul McCartney in that reference, nodding to their song ‘Getting Better.’
Related: Listen to more endearing songs written for sons.
Flume – Bon Iver
Bon Iver wrote ‘Flume’ while on a three-month retreat away from the world in a log cabin deep into the northeastern side of Wisconsin. He was living off the land, hunting for his own food, splitting wood, and building fires on his own. He recorded the song initially there in the woods and later added instrumentation in the studio. The gentle movement of the song is soothing and melodic and makes for a great lullaby piece.
Never Grow Up – Taylor Swift
The sweet acoustic sounds of ‘Never Grow Up’ combine with the lyrics to make this Taylor Swift song the perfect lullaby to drift off. The song moves from childhood sentiments to early adulthood when someone moves out for the first time. The song was written upon her reflections on her own time moving out and the bittersweet feelings of innocence shifting away in some forms when we become adults.
Related: One day, you might use this song on a list of celebration songs for graduation for your child.
Your Song – Elton John
‘Your Song’ was Elton John’s first single to hit the charts. He wrote the song with Bernie Taupin in 1967 when Taupin was only 17 years old. The gentle song has a certain innocence and hopeful feeling to it, which helps to make it a great choice for a lullaby for your little one. “My gift is my song, and this one’s for you. And you can tell everybody this is your song. It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done… How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”
Related: Enjoy our list of top songs with piano.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ is a smooth, soft love song that easily translates to a sweet lullaby. Ewan MacColl, a folk singer-songwriter, wrote the song for his romantic partner Peggy Seeger when she called him up and needed a song for a romantic scene she was in on stage. MacColl wrote the song in less than an hour, called her back, and played it for her to use in the play.
Related: Hear this song on our list of the best soul songs.
Let It Be – The Beatles
Inspired by his mother, ‘Let It Be’ by Paul McCartney for the Beatles is a perfect song for soothing a troubled soul. McCartney said his mother was a reassuring soul and would say, “It’s going to be okay. Just let it be.” The songwriter took the message to heart and often was able to rest in these words. The message of the song is the perfect choice for a lullaby.
I Will Follow You into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie
‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’ is a beautiful promise of company throughout eternity. The song is a love song that addresses some complex topics, but the lyrics’ beautiful rhythms and loving sentiment make it a peaceful song nonetheless. Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie wrote the song as a reflection of the end of life and how love chases all the way into the dark.
Related: This song is one of the best acoustic guitar songs of all time.
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
‘What a Wonderful World’ is one of Louis Armstrong’s most famous songs and is a beautiful message for a lullaby. The lyrics promise the hope and joy of that wonderful world, while the instrumentation adds layers of beauty to an already delightful message. Interestingly, Armstrong, known for his trumpet skills, just held his instrument while singing instead of playing the horn on this song.
Related: Find more songs that appreciate nature on our nature playlist.
Lean on Me – Bill Withers
Apparently, Bill Withers wrote ‘Lean on Me’ when he got his first Wurlitzer electric piano and ran his fingers over the keys. As he did so, the phrase came to him, and he knew he needed to make it into a song. He asked why someone would conclude a song that way, and as he asked those questions, the lyrics came to him. The song isn’t a typical lullaby, but the message is certainly soothing, that you have someone to lean on.
Related: Have fun singing the best songs to sing along to.
Into Dust – Mazzy Star
As the intro for ‘Into Dust’ begins playing, a peacefulness settles over the space. The quiet, acoustic song has a certain inherent restfulness to it. The song was written by Hope Sandoval and David Roback and is about sinking into someone else—losing fear and feeling secure and safe in the presence and life of the other person. It’s the perfect message and song for sinking into a restful sleep.
Sleep – Azure Ray
While it may not technically be a lullaby for children, many of the lyrics from ‘Sleep’ by Azure Ray are clearly speaking of restlessness and difficulty sleeping. The rhythm is a bit faster on the guitar, but the song has a peaceful steadiness that can be soothing.
Related: Snooze to these songs about going to sleep.
Look at Me – Damien Rice
“Look into my eyes, and you’ll know that I truly love you. Look into my eyes, and you’ll see that no one will harm you. Look into my eyes, and you’ll feel that I will protect you.” The promises made in this beautiful acoustic lullaby from Damien Rice are a comfort for anyone who feels troubled. If you have a little one who needs this message of love and devotion, the song is a perfect choice. It’s also a great message to always remind your child of, even if they’re peaceful at the moment.
Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep – Rosemary Clooney
The last hit for Irving Berlin, ‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep’ was used in the 1954 Christmas film “White Christmas.” Berlin wrote the song from his own experience when a doctor suggested he try counting his blessings to deal with insomnia induced by life’s stressors. The sweet lyrics and melodic themes of the gorgeous song are comforting and encouraging. Your little one (and maybe you!) could easily drift to Sleepy World as they listen.
You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers
Originally written for the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, which premiered in 1945, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a beautiful choice for a lullaby. The song speaks of the promise of a clear sky after rain and the joy found in the songs of a bird. Ultimately, it’s the promise that though life may be troublesome at times, there is joy after the storm.
Related: Step over to our playlist of songs with walking in the title.
St. Judy’s Comet – Paul Simon
There’s no question that ‘St. Judy’s Comet’ is a lullaby. The lyrics talk about sleepiness, wakefulness, and rest, requesting the “little boy” to lie down and close his weary eyes. The sweet song is a little peppier than some lullabies, but the acoustic guitar and gentle rhythms are still mild enough that a kid could easily drift off with the colorful song playing on the radio.
Related: Sing about other space oddities with these outer space songs.
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Though the song is a little bit “high energy” for a lullaby, the concept and overall steady vibe of the song ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers could actually be a great choice as a “first song” for your wind down time as you prepare for sleep. The message comes out directly in the opening lyrics, “Don’t worry about a thing ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Related: Chill out with the best reggae songs of all time.
Amazing Grace – Il Divo
‘Amazing Grace’ is a well-known Christian song that has made it into the mainstream for many reasons. The song is simply comforting, for one. Whether you’re religious or not, the concept of grace is a sweet one and works just as well as a classic lullaby. And when performed well, the song is soothing with thoughts of making it through challenges and sorrow with this unmerited favor that brings joy and comfort.
True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston
The rhythmic acoustic song ‘True Love Will Find You in the End’ by Daniel Johnston makes for a steady lullaby to drift off to. The song promises hope and love “in the end,” which is a comforting thought for sure. “Don’t be sad. I know you will but don’t give up until true love will find you in the end.”
Edelweiss – Richard Rodgers
‘Edelweiss’ is a beautiful, soft song from the musical “The Sound of Music.” The song is about a tiny white flower native to Austria, the national “blossom of snow” symbolizing peace for so many. The song was written for the 1959 Broadway production of the musical, but there’s no context needed for the darling song to soothe and calm.
Related: This is one of the songs in The Sound of Music.
Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix
This song certainly isn’t your typical classic nursery rhyme, but ‘Little Wing’ is a great choice for a chill song that helps you and the babies start calming your hearts at the end of the day. It’s an instrumental by Jimi Hendrix, with some unique riffs and rhythms that can help you center. It may not put anyone to sleep, but it can definitely help you start to mellow out at the end of the day, thanks to its chill R&B vibe.
Related: Float away with these songs with clouds in the music.
Holes – Mercury Rev
Featured as the fourth single from Mercury Rev’s fourth album, ‘Holes’ reflects all the things that make you wonder. Every little child has these questions—what is in that hole in the ground? The song is a high-energy yet low-key tune full of wonder and curiosity. It would make for a great first lullaby as your baby settles down for the night.
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Lily James
Whether you prefer the original Disney animated film or the live-action version of Cinderella, you’ll find the stunning lullaby ‘A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes’ in the soundtrack. The tender song reflects on the realities of dreams we have as we sleep that help us live the dreams we have for our lives. The song is perfect for sending your little one off to dreamland.
Related: Check out more of the top Disney songs.
Goodnite Sweetheart Goodnite – The Spaniels
‘Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite’ was a pop song released in the mid-1950s and was a hit at the time. The song was written by Calvin Carter and James “Pookie” Husdon in 1951 and was first recorded by The Spaniels in 1953. The sweet song is a song of regret at having to say goodnight. Clearly, most grown-ups would interpret the song as romantic partners saying goodbye, but it easily translates to saying goodnight to the sleepy little ones drifting toward dreamland.
Related: Say “see you later” with these songs about saying goodbye to a friend.
More of the best lullabies:
- Baby Mine – Bette Midler
- Brahms Lullaby (Cradle Song) – Johannes Brahms
- When You Wish Upon a Star – Leigh Harline and Ned Washington
- Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word – The King’s Singers
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Jewel