Thursday, April 16, 2009

Harry's Greatest Hits

An article on NPR about music and newborns got me thinking about music we have played for Harry since he was born. Being musicians, we like things that are off beat and not necessarily kid-related, but on the other hand we've found many great recordings of kid-friendly tunes in unlikely places.

Harry always responded well to music of all kinds and it usually soothes him to sleep. I remember playing Horowitz encores for him at maybe 4 months old and just watching him lay quietly and listen. Later, we started using an old-timey AM radio station to put him to sleep. They played everything from Big Band to 80s techno and it would knock him right out.

We also had a couple of iPod play lists that worked really well for a while. One was an hour long play list of very varied slow-ish songs with artists ranging from Paul Robeson to Carole King, a lot of which are lullabies, but not all. Another was called "11 up and down" started out with 30 minutes of upbeat tunes followed by 30 minutes of slow tunes and that worked for a long time. In between play lists, we depended on music from the "Baby Loves Jazz" series. "Charlie Bird" was particularly effective in the car and Hubby and I re-created it a capella at least once when we forgot the iPod adapter. (Even the two of us singing is better than a screaming baby, I promise!)

These days, Harry loves anything with drums or just plain old Mommy singing one of his favorite tunes. I have a few regular lullabies in rotation, including "Hushabye Mountain" (guaranteed out in 1 run through) "Stay Awake" (reverse psychology anyone?) and "Baby Mine" (Hmmm. All from Disney movies?). We also sing some nursery rhymes, the alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinke. He lets me know very physically and vocally if he is not in the mood for a particular song by covering my mouth and saying "DA!" (his word for done).

When Harry was younger, though, we sang a lot of made up words to famous tunes. Here are a few favorites.

B-B-B-Baby! (Sung to the tune of "K-K-K-Katy")
B-B-B Baby!
Beautiful Baby!
You're the only b-b-b-boy that I adore!
B-B-B Baby!
Beautiful Baby!
You're the only b-b-b-boy that I adore!

Other verses included M-M-M-Mommy, D-D-D-Daddy and K-K-K-Kitty with some made up words for the 3rd and 6th line that I cannot remember. Possibly "M-M-M-Mommy loves her b-b-b-baby boy" or something similar.

Baby Can-Can (Sung to the tune of the "Can-Can" by Offenbach) This one is a form that can take many verses, depending on the situation.
1. Harry, Harry Joseph Steinberg
Was a little baby
And he liked to cry and cry and cry and cry and
Harry, Harry Joseph Steinberg
Was a little baby
And he liked to cry and cry and cry

2. Harry, Harry Joseph Steinberg
Was a hungry baby
And he liked to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse and
Harry, Harry Joseph Steinberg
Was a hungry baby
And he liked to nurse and nurse and nurse

And so on. Other verses included:
Sleepy baby...liked to nap
Busy baby...liked to play
Stinky baby...pooped and peed
Happy baby...liked to smile
Silly baby...liked to laugh
Fussy baby...liked to whine
Lovey baby...liked to hug (or kiss, or both)

Twinkle Baby
(Sung to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle")
Harry Joseph, I love you.
And your Daddy loves you too.
It is time to go to bed.
You must rest your sleepy head.
Harry Joseph, I love you.
And your Daddy loves you too.

I suppose we'll have to come up with some new ones for baby Nathan, but we may be too tired to be creative. Time will tell. I know we will just keep singing, though. I swear there is something instinctual about singing to your child. And really, infants don't care what you sound like or what you sing. So, while it's interesting to read the NPR article and all the comments (including mine somewhere in there), the best thing for a newborn to hear is its parents voices. As long as it's coming from Mom and Dad with love, it's the perfect sound.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Harry Joseph, 21 Months Old

Dear Harry,

What leaps we have made this month, pumpkin-bear. At the risk of jinxing everything, I'm going to come right out and say it. You are on a bedtime routine.

Video (Curious George, your hero and constant companion.)
Lights out w/music and photos on iPod, then songs from Mama.
Asleep in under 15 minutes.

We've been doing some techniques with you after discovering that you may be what they call "Sensory Seeking". You crave activity, motion and stimulation and that keeps you from being able to settle your body. One of our Early Intervention workers suggested using squeezing massage and big bear hugs to help send slow-down signals to your brain. To that, we added my warm scented rice bag for you to have in your lap during your nighttime video. It has helped you relax enough to realize, "Hey! I'm tired!"

The next thing we did was warn you that "After George, we go night-night." For a few nights, that lead to screaming as we brought you to your room. We were firm about keeping you in your room and told you "All done. Bed or chair." when you would go screaming to the door. There were a few really rough nights. Twice, I gave in to more video after you would not calm down. Each time, you were asleep in minutes. Another night, you kept finding toys in your bed and I just got angry. I left you screaming with Daddy for 5 minutes while I calmed down. When I went back, I apologized to you for getting mad and took you to the rocking chair. You snuggled in to sleep in under 5 minutes.

Now, more often than not, you say bye-bye to George when the show ends (sometimes a smidgen tearfully, but not really crying) and let us carry you to your room where we do our thing. Your bedtime has become more and more consistent and we can depend on you sleeping through most nights. Once you are out, you are really out. Daddy still sleeps with you, mostly so I can hog our bed and not be woken if you do wake up. (You are working on molars, after all.) Let's be realistic, though. I'm your mom. I usually wake up 60 seconds before you wake. The other night, I was able to sneak in and give you teething tablets before you woke up all the way. But we know that your baby brother is going to upset the apple cart soon, so having Daddy with you is a good preventative. It won't be like we are taking Mommy away from you at night.

Speaking of which, this is my last monthly entry with you as an only child. I know you are too little to remember what it was like to have Mama and Dada to yourself, but for us it will be bittersweet. You've become our world and your world is about to change. I expect it will be very tough going for a while, but I know we will work it out. By the time your brother is 6 months old, you will think it has always been like this and so will we. Just like Daddy and I cannot remember or imagine life without you, we will all feel like that about Nathan soon. We have a busy month ahead of us, sweet pea. Go easy on your parents, if you can. We're doing the best we can.

All my love,