When your 4-year-old gets out of bed for the sixth time, it may be that all she needs is a little music to help her fall asleep. Experimenting with different types of music that work for your child may not only provide a customized sleep aid but also some exposure to the musical world.
Among the classical music selections that children may enjoy falling asleep to are the well-known Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and Brahms’ “Serenade #2.” The lesser known Hummel’s “Mandolin Concerto” also provides soothing nighttime sounds. An album titled, “The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World . . . Ever!” from EMI Classics includes works by Bach, Grieg, Pachelbel, Debussy and others. Another choice is “McFerrin’s Paper Music,” which features Bobby McFerrin singing classical favorites.
Listening to CDs commonly labeled “world music” can provide soothing sounds from a variety of world cultures. For example, some children may relax to the somewhat repetitive sounds of the Irish music from “Lord of the Dance” or Bill Whelan’s “Seville Suite.” “The Songs of Sanctuary” from Adiemus incorporates African music into a choral work with sounds but no lyrics. Putumayo Kids offers a variety of possibilities in the world music category, including “Asian Dreamland” with tranquil songs from Japan, China, India and other countries.
New Age Ambient Music
Because ambient music is intended to draw the listener into the atmosphere created by the sounds, it is perfect for nighttime listening. Examples of ambient music include Enya’s “Shepherd Moons,” Kitaro’s “The Light of the Spirit” and “White Winds” from Andreas Vollenweider. Another kind of ambient sound is ” Fresh Aire III” from Mannheim Steamroller.
Being lulled to sleep by hearing a story set to music draws kids in. Ideally, parents and kids should listen to the musical together a few times before it’s used as a sleep aid, so that the child isn’t trying to stay awake to hear how the story ends. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” is suitable for even young children. “Peter and the Wolf,” narrated by various artists, most famously Leonard Bernstein, is another choice. A newer selection, “Broadway Barks,” a book/CD set by Bernadette Peters tells the story of a lost dog who is rescued by a little girl. Peters ends the story by singing an engaging original lullaby.
Parents or grandparents who are musical might consider recording an original CD that features them singing kids’ favorite bedtime songs as well as telling little stories. These recordings, which may start out as an engaging novelty, will eventually become simply comforting and help the child relax and fall asleep.