Why Yes, Our Baby Falls Asleep to Opera!

Now that I’ve fully weaned Judah, we’ve had to make some adjustments to baby’s bedtime and naptime routines. And we’ve stumbled onto a lullaby failsafe that works every single time we need to get Judah to sleep. And yes: it’s opera, of all things! Judah is, in many ways, his own little Renaissance Man. He comes from a diverse cultural background. He’s his own budding foodie.

So really, why should his taste in music be any different?

It all started a couple of weekends ago, when Judah got sick. To help him get to sleep, I would cuddle him close and rock him gently, humming a lullaby or two. But when I started getting sick too, my voice would crack out on me, so I needed a backup. We’ve recently discovered American children’s folk singer Elizabeth Mitchell in our house, so I bought an album of hers from iTunes and played it to Judah as I rocked him to sleep.


Judah was still fighting me, so I tried to hum him a tune I’ve always found soothing, but my voice gave out. I searched for it in the iTunes store and lo and behold, there it was:

The Humming Chorus (“Coro a bocca chiusa”), from Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly.

I played the soft, gentle melody on my phone as I rocked Judah to the rhythm, and before the song had even finished, he was out like a light.

“First time’s a charm,” I thought.

The next day, I made a playlist of some of the calmer, slower Elizabeth Mitchell songs and moved The Humming Chorus into the last song slot. When it was time for bed, I rocked Judah to sleep while his new bedtime lullaby playlist played. No matter how awake he may have been, his eyelids got so droopy and he couldn’t fight sleep anymore once The Humming Chorus came on.

“Second time is merely coincidence,” I thought.

On the third day, Judah was fussing hard for a nap but just wouldn’t calm down enough to let himself rest. I wondered if the playlist might work during the day. As soon as he heard the first familiar tunes from Elizabeth Mitchell, he went slack and calm in my arms. His eyes were shut tight by the time The Humming Chorus started playing, and he was snoring by the time it was over.

“Third time is a scientific success!” I thought, and felt I could now successfully share my new sleeptime trick with my husband.

Since then, Judah has gone down for a nap or gone to bed every day and every night listening to opera.

Interestingly enough: in another lifetime, I would have been a world-class opera star… I originally went to college for vocal music performance and music education, but switched to communications instead. Madame Butterfly was always my favorite opera and, as a soprano, Cho-Cho San is a dream role for any operatic soprano.

I love that now, all these years later, my son enjoys one of my favorite operatic tunes every time he falls asleep!

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