The art of baby whispering
PRE-motherhood, I had an inkling that I’d have to master a few parenting tricks.
I knew I’d need to learn how soothe an unsettled baby at all hours of the night and day. I knew I’d need to grasp the art of juggling an oversized nappy bag and a baby while being sheltered from the rain under a too-small umbrella. And I knew I’d need to get accustomed to never-ending nappy changes and of course, little sleep.
But nobody, not even my mother, uttered a single word about the time-honoured practice of singing to my baby. It didn’t take long to take hold though.
Gemma was about a week old and unsettled. It was about 2am. Despite being fed and cuddled, Gem’s wailing was insistent. I didn’t know how to soothe her.
It was in that wailing moment that the notion of singing a lulling nursery rhyme to my child came to me.
Only trouble was, I didn’t know all the words to any nursery rhymes that I felt would help soothe my baby to sleep. I doubted Humpty Dumpty Fell Off The Wall or Row, Row, Row Your Boat would do the trick.
‘‘ Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top – then what?’’ . . . ‘ ‘ Twinkle t winkl e l i t t l e s t ar . . . t hen what?,’’ I mused as I cradled my wailing newborn.
I also couldn’t help but concede my singing voice was far from ideal. I didn’t want to scare my little baby with my tone-deaf, offkey, barely remembered nursery rhyme. So I started humming. I hummed to a song I remember my mother singing to me: Grand Old Duke Of York.
I hummed that song for nearly two weeks. I know it doesn’t seem the best choice, but that’s all I had. And besides, it seemed to work. Gem would lull into a slumber within minutes of me humming the monotone tune.
But then my little angel baby decided enough was enough. No more Grand Old Duke Of York hummings. She seemed to be craving the real thing: my singing voice.
So at 3am two weeks after my first attempt at singing, I sang my first song to my precious Gem.
It was not a nursery rhyme, but it was my version of the 1950s pop classic He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. I don’t know to this day why that song came me at that ungodly hour. I personalised the song to ‘‘ I’ve got the whole world in my arms, I have my little Gemma in my arms, I have everything I want in my arms’’.
I sang that song so much that when I start singing it today, Gemma has been known to say: ‘‘ No sing mama, no sing no more.’’
But usually Gemma and Sophia love nothing more than a singalong session with me, with current f avourites i ncluding If You’re Happy And You Know It, See Saw Marjorie Daw and She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain.
After three years of motherhood, I can proudly say I’ve found my singing voice. I’ve collected plenty of nursery rhymes to keep me in good stead for many years to come. My voice is still tone-deaf and off-key, but I don’t care.
I find plenty of opportunities each day to add singing to my children’s day.
I sing at home,
I sing at the