Articles, Research

Start singing today

January 13, 2016

Music image

Singing with your baby or toddler is not only fun, but a fantastic way for them to hear sounds and learn new words. Recent research reviews have indicated that singing nursery rhymes with young children in a fun and interactive way can contribute to later literacy abilities.

Nursery rhymes are usually short with lots of repetition, rhythm and rhyme making them fun and interesting for young children. Your baby, toddler or young child will love to hear you sing and traditional rhymes are a good place to start. If you know other songs and lullabies or nursery rhymes from your traditional language, give them a try as well. .

Don’t know what to sing? Children love to choose songs. Get a pillow case or bag and add in some items that can help them choose the songs. Why not put in a toy bus for “Wheels on the bus”, a star for “Twinkle Twinkle” or a spider for “Incey Wincey.” Your child can then choose the object and let you know what they want to sing. If you don’t have those items, don’t worry, a picture for each song works just a well.

Remember when singing to slow down and pause before important words to give your child a chance to join in eg. “Twinkle Twinkle little (pause) star”. Repeat favourite songs, no matter how many times you’ve sung them that day. The more your child hears them, the more opportunity for them to join in and start to learn the words. We want children to do the actions but it’s the talking we get excited about! Make every nappy change or bath time an opportunity to share a song. Have fun!

If you’ve forgotten the words or the tune? Try Baby Karaoke for a quick reminder or come along to the free Rhyme Time session at your local library.


  • Dunst, C., Meter, D., & Hamby, D (2011). Relationship Between Young Children’s Nursery Rhyme Experiences and Knowledge and Phonological and Print-Related Abilities. CELLReviews Volume 4 Number 1
  • Shoghi, A., Willersdorf, E., Braganza, L. and McDonald, M. (2013) 2013 Let’s Read Literature Review. Victoria: The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.