Nursery Rhymes for Babies

Falling in love with your family by Alison

Through the ages, parents have had a common dilemma: what to do with a baby.  We know we need to be intellectually stimulating and nurturing, but its sometimes hard to keep talking to someone who never talks back.  One great way to increase bonding, have fun, and improve later reading success is to use nursery rhymes.  Rhymes, including finger-plays, bounces, and activity songs are great ways to play with babies, toddlers, and even older kids.  I love being the Babytime storyteller at the Caldwell Public Library and enjoy researching old songs and activities that parents have used for generations.  Using these rhymes reminds me that I’m not the first parent to have an impatient toddler to entertain while I’m doing housework, or a teary baby in the middle of the night.  Plenty of parents have been there, done that.  And the songs, stories, rhymes, and games that come out of that desire to nurture and comfort are a gift to us.  Here are a couple of our favorites!  Use them when you’re waiting in a doctor’s office, grocery shopping, or looking for a new way to play.



Stellas on my knee

Rooster crows,

And away she goes!

(Start with your baby on your lap.  Bounce in time to the song, then end with a big bounce at the end.)

Baby, Baby Dumpling

Baby, baby dumpling

Put him in the pot,

Sugar him and butter him

And eat him while he’s hot!

(Act out what the words suggest, ending with a good munch on their neck!)



Once I caught a fish alive


Then I let it go again.

Why did you let it go?

Because it bit my finger so.

Which finger did it bite?

My little finger on the right!

(This decades-old rhyme is a fun way to teach counting.  After preschoolers learn this rhyme, it can be said in a call-response style.  The parent starts with the first line, and the child answers with the second.)

 Oh My Goodness

Oh my Goodness!

Oh for shame!

Here goes________(name)

Down the drain!

(Set your baby on your lap. Bounce to the rhyme, and then open your knees and let him dip down on the last line.  Don’t be surprised if elementary-aged kids as for their turn!)

 What are your favorite rhymes, finger plays, and bounces?


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