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Lullabies

June 28th, 2015
baby, singing

When we started putting Lily down to sleep we tried various routines to try to help her transition from awake time to sleep time. Early on Julia had a series of songs she would set her phone to play while nursing before she put Lily down, and given how many times I heard them I'm kind of surprised that I can't bring the melody to my mind at all. Just that the first song was a woman singing in Spanish. When I started having Lily full time during my paternity leave, though, I was the one putting her down for her naps, and I preferred singing.

In the early days with Lily, when she needed a lot of rocking to sleep, I made up a lot of songs. Most of them had lyrics consisting entirely of "Lily". For example, one I sang a lot:

  Lily Lily Lily Lily
  Lily Lily Lily Lily
  Lily Lily Lily Lily
  Lily Lily Lily Lily

     Lily
     Lily
     Lily
     Lily

        Lily Lily Lily Lily
        Lily Lily Lily Lily
        Lily Lily Lily Lily
        Lily
(recording)

Years ago I figured out a simple melody, though I wasn't sure where to go with it. It's not a a dance tune, which is the main outlet I have for melodies, and I kicked it around for a while. At one point I tried writing some lyrics about dance organizing, trying to communicate what I found fulfilling about it, but everything ended up super cheesy and that's all buried somewhere now. [1]

Over many naps I started building up a lullaby to that tune, letting words fall into place. I'm not completely happy with it, but I'm sufficiently content that it doesn't bother me to sing it to her several times a day (or night):

  It's time to sleep
  You rest your head
  You fade away, into the night
  It's time to sleep
  Lily goes to sleep
  Go to sleep, my darling
  Go to sleep
(recording)

After maybe a week of this, around the time I'd sung it enough to settle on the lyrics, I noticed that Lily pretty clearly understood what the song meant. We would be standing near her crib, after giving her a bottle and changing her, and I would sing various songs. When I got to this one, always the last one, I would feel her collapse against me, getting ready for sleep, and at the same time she'd start to whimper. In a weird way I actually think it was good that she would cry like this; she typically would cry some when we put her down for her nap, and having her get through some of that while being cuddled was probably nicer for her (and me).

At this point she tends not to cry when I put her down, but the way she goes limp and sleepy when I hit the first three notes of the song remain. It's pretty neat, and super cute. I like to think it's helping her fall asleep, always getting the same lullaby, but of course it's hard to know. [2]


[1] Looking through my scratch notes, it's not especially well buried. But yes, super cheesy. The only bit that might be salvageable, but still makes me cringe:

The dance is done
People had their fun
They separate into the night
But the dance lives on
It flows with them
something something something
  something something something
    
(recording)

[2] One of the more frustrating things about being a parent is with a tiny sample size it's very hard to tell what's having an effect. [3] How do you know what would have happened if you'd chosen to do things differently? Still, I figure sharing what we've tried and what we've seen still is somewhat useful.

[3] Clearly the solution is to have enough children that you can have significant results. How many this requires depends heavily on expected effect sizes. I guess it's fair to describe our current parenting methodology as severely underpowered?

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