Experience has shown us that certain songs and videos will calm our crying babies right down. Perhaps it is the rhythm, or the bright colors, or maybe the tone of voice used by the singer - or more likely the combination of all these factors.
We discovered these songs with our first daughter when trying out different videos to help her go to sleep. We found the songs work just as well on her little sister. Now as a 3 year old, our first daughter will come running whenever we play the videos, and sing along happily.
The YouTube comments on some of these videos confirm that they work well on other people's children as well to calm them down, so it's not just our girls that they work on. You can try these on your own kids (or kids you are babysitting) next time they are fussing. No guarantees but you should find that one or more of these videos and songs calms the kids down and stops the crying.
The Elephant Song (Eric Hermen)
With over 20 Million YouTube views, the Elephant Song is extremely popular. We have used this song to calm down crying kids many times. One commenter posted that "the Elephant Song is like crack for babies" because it is so effective at holding children's attention.
The song starts off talking about elephants but the attributes are all messed up as it move through "I like elephants," "like monkey's," and "I like donkeys." Eric Herman sings while a little kid argues that Herman does not know what he is talking about.
The simple tune, dialog between Eric Herman and the child, and the bright colors of the video combine to create a soothing effect that holds even an upset child's attention.
The Duck Song 1 (Song By Bryant Oden. Animation By Forrest Whaley)
With 74 Million views and counting since May 2009 The Duck Song is an internet sensation. Young kids seem to love the simple repetitive tune, funny voices and bright yellow duck. Adults and older can appreciate the humor in the song. The graphics are intentionally very simple. Hey, got any grapes?
The sequels are pretty good too. They continue the story of the pesky duck and his grape obsession, first at a corner store, then at both the lemonade stand and the corner store.
The Duck Song 2 (Song By Bryant Oden. Animation By Forrest Whaley)
tell me another duck story
18 million views and climbing, YouTube users and their kids can't get enough of the duck. The duck finds a new target for his grape requests at the corner store and a new victum in a young woman. And then he waddled away, waddle waddle. And then he waddled away...
The Duck Song 3 (Song By Bryant Oden. Animation By Forrest Whaley)
can you tell me ANOTHER duck story?
The annoying duck is back for more lemonade stand antics. This time he wants the lemonade stand man to follow him to the corner store. A little love story, but still a super evil plot.
At 13 million plus views the third installment of the duck song is doing very well. It sure works to calm down our kids. They'll be joining the little girl at the beginning saying "Tell me another duck story!"
While there are only 3 episodes in the real Duck Song series, a little looking around on YouTube will show many other videos that mock the Duck Song or do violence to the poor duck. These videos are more adult oriented, not for putting a baby to sleep or calming down a crying toddler.
Black Beard. Blue Beard and Red Beard (Eric Herman)
With a million and a half views, this pirate song really appeals to kids. It has a neat little beat, a catchy tune, and multiple voices. Even the parrot gets into the act! Your kids will love the song and video with its bold colors and cute little story line.
There are both audio and visual jokes enough to amuse most adults for a couple go through.
Older kids will sing along and mimic the kids in the video too. Paint the ship Red! "No paint the ship Blue!" "How bout Black instead?" They just can not agree. Or "How about Yellow?" It's all good for some laughs.
Check out the paint store and the unorthodox methods of painting the ship. There is no rum for these nearduwells - just sodee pop kegs.
Why Does These Music Videos Calm Babies and Attract Children's Attention?
The writers/performers of these songs are both accomplished performers of children's music. While these songs are not lullabies they are also not songs to jump up and down too. They have a rhythmic pace to them that has a calming, almost mezmorizing effect.
The bright colored graphics are really attractive to kids. Research shows that bright colors and shapes are good for childhood development (this research is reflected in many popular toys and decorations for kids rooms). The graphics are slow moving and simple yet entertaining. They don't have tons of details to distract the child.
I've experimented with changing the screen away so the video is not visible, and the child only hears the song. The music alone has some calming value, but without something to visually focus on the child starts looking around and getting agitated again. So the combination of video and audio seems to be the key to success for these videos.
Sometimes I can actually keep working while using videos to entertain my kids on the laptop. I just set up the videos in one 1/2 size window and my work in another 1/2 size window beside it and keep typing. I hope these videos are as successful for you as they are with my kids. If you have other children's videos to suggest that have similar calming effects, tell us in the comments. Joining the site free but registration is required to help combat spam.