Lull my kids to sleep
February 24, 2021 11:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for full length albums appropriate to use to lull my kids to sleep from a variety of different music styles and genres. I'm not interested in individual songs, just albums that are mellow listening from top to bottom. Any music style welcome and appreciated!

My children listen to a different album every night to go to sleep. They currently have a rotation of a small number of albums, and they would like more. From an aesthetic standpoint, I'd really like these to just be "excellent albums that also happen to be great to fall asleep to" rather than "top 100 classical/jazz/pop lullaby compilation" type things. Any language needs to be either clean or not English. I'm not going to say what the current albums are because I don't want to bias my responses.

My kids are going to grow up in a world where music is mostly consumed as tracks, not albums, and for some old fuddy-duddy reason I feel like bedtime is a really nice opportunity for them to experience full albums as more coherent works of art. But most albums I know well have got some non-mellow tracks on them and the last thing I need is a chill album that suddenly gets intense on track 11 and wakes the kids up, so I've been pretty risk-averse in my selections so far. If you have an album you regularly use to lull yourself to sleep and it doesn't have any swears on it, please tell me what it is!
posted by potrzebie to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
strange ambient-ish albums (youtube links):

Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid
Thomas Köner - Daikan
Gas - Königsforst

Gas might be a touch too high tempo. Pretty sure i've read a review of Gas' music that described it like listening to a distant dance party muffled through closed doors. Daikan might stretch the bounds of what is regarded as music, I find it great to chill out to. Stars of the Lid is beautiful and slow.
posted by are-coral-made at 1:16 AM on February 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

I mean, given that Sigur Ros' latest is Liminal Sleep, they are a very obvious choice. I'll list the albums I think are good for sleep, with the most bouncy/loud track in there, so you can see if you think it will wake up people.

- Ágætis byrjun. End bit of Ný batterí is most awakening.
- (). I have very happily gone to sleep to this, but #5, #6 and #8 have crescendos towards the ends of the tracks which may be too disruptive.
- Von. Crescendo in Hún Jörð, relatively early on in the album, strange noises in Veröld ný óg óð.

Personally, my go-to for lulling myself to sleep would be metal, but I realise that's rather idiosyncratic. However, Rammstein Klavier is all piano arrangements and is one that I'd have on a go to sleep list.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:20 AM on February 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Joao Gilberto & Stan Getz
I find Gilberto's voice strangely soothing

Bill Evans & Jim Hall: Undercurrent
A lot of solo Bill Evans too. Greatest jazz pianist ever.

Alberto Iglesias: Julieta
Spanish composer has done brilliant soundtracks for Almodovar

Frederic Mompou's Musica Callada
Brilliant, neglected composer
posted by vacapinta at 2:55 AM on February 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

My twin brother and I always used to fall asleep to The Point by Harry Nilsson. It’s storytelling, interspersed with amazing songs made for kids. Not sure if that would work for sleep but it definitely mellowed us out.
posted by dngrangl at 3:06 AM on February 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

The soundtrack to the video game Alto's Odyssey is mellow and relaxing. There are two versions; search YouTube for them, and rip the audio with youtube-dl.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:25 AM on February 25, 2021

Mompou is a great call!

Not a week goes by I don't listen to Long Division by Low some night after I've turned out the lights. It's somewhat melancholy and very austere but extremely beautiful. None of the tracks are uptempo. One, though -- 'Turn' -- is a bit sinister. You could drop that track if you judged it kid-unfriendly without disturbing the artistry of the album too much.
posted by bertran at 3:59 AM on February 25, 2021

Oxygene, Jean-Michel Jarre, 39:41
Blade Runner OST, Vangelis, 57:39 - some speaking, in English, but it's mostly about owls so give it a try
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 4:10 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

For about a year in college, I used Bjork’s Homogenic album to fall asleep to.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:10 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chopin Nocturnes - I can't vouch for all of them, but I did fall asleep to a selection of them on tape when I was a teen.

I wish I could recommend the whole of Funkadelic's Maggot Brain album for falling asleep to, but unfortunately only the title track fits the bill. [Edit: language may not be appropriate] It's a similar case with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
posted by clawsoon at 4:56 AM on February 25, 2021

when the buena Vista social club was in theaters there was an article describing how their music put babies and toddlers to sleep at screenings catering to them and their caregivers.
posted by brujita at 4:59 AM on February 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It's a short album but mellow, tender, and beautiful from start to finish: Pink Moon by Nick Drake.
posted by merriment at 5:04 AM on February 25, 2021 [8 favorites]

Anne Murray’s Hippo In My Bathtub
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:35 AM on February 25, 2021

I know this goes directly against your "no lullaby compilations" request, but have you heard the lullaby Nirvana (etc.) records? No idea how old your kids are, but I'm 40 and this somehow really hits the spot when I'm fussy and having trouble getting to sleep.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:47 AM on February 25, 2021

Check out some of the Ken Burns soundtracks. The Civil War has those talky/letter-reading bits which might be distracting, but I think something like The National Parks would work.
posted by transient at 5:47 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Kabila by Marwan Abado

Any compliation of Abida Parveen

Bill Withers? I think none of the lyrics are rude

Massive Attack and the rest of the triphop genre

Beth Orton, first two albums
posted by runincircles at 5:52 AM on February 25, 2021

Best answer: You'll want to check the lyrics (there are mild references to drinking and some gentle melancholy), but Hem's Rabbit Songs is basically "what would happen if we crossed indie folk with childrens' movie lullabies." It is an actual album for grownups, and also one of the most understatedly gorgeous things I've ever heard. Your kids might love it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:00 AM on February 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've seen Playhouse of the Universe categorized as a kids' album, but I listen to it all the time and I don't have kids. It's a very gentle, very playful, kind of surreal indie-pop-flavored side project by a bunch of very good bluegrass musicians. Chill and soothing throughout.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:06 AM on February 25, 2021

I came here to suggest Equinox by Jean Michel Jarre. The album cover may look a bit scary to kids but as a child I just loved the electronic music, found it extremely soothing, and often drifted off to sleep with it playing a sound track to the dreams I was making up in my head.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:08 AM on February 25, 2021

Best answer: Brian Eno's classic ambient albums fit the bill. My go-to sleepytime music.

Ambient 1: Music for Airports


Thursday Afternoon
posted by googly at 6:12 AM on February 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Moby has a variety of ambient and quiet music, including albums and playlists, on his youtube channel. I really liked his relaxing sleep music. His album "Destroyed" may also be suitable; he's said that he created it while unable to sleep on tour.
posted by wicked_sassy at 6:28 AM on February 25, 2021


Any album by Vashti Bunyan.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:38 AM on February 25, 2021

Long ago, when our kids were little, the preschool/daycare they went to would always play Ray Lynch's Deep Breakfast at naptime. It seemed to reliably do the trick.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on February 25, 2021

I hear you about the "listening to albums" thing, but anecdata on my kids----what finally worked for us was audiobooks. The app they use to listen to audiobooks will shut off at the end of a chapter, and I set the playback speed to 75% and it's slow enough to be boring but fast enough that they stay put. My oldest actually keeps an old phone under her pillow, which keeps her head *on* the pillow.

More on topic, n-thing Brian Eno and Nick Drake. And something like Maxence Cyrin usually work for me, but might move a bit too much. Although Youtube's player lets you slow things down too if that helps.

In short, slow.
posted by adekllny at 6:52 AM on February 25, 2021

How has Max Richter's Sleep not been mentioned yet? Literally an 8 hour lullaby.

Also, not an album bc pre-album era, but lots of Erik Satie, but especially the 3 Gymnopédies.
posted by greta simone at 6:55 AM on February 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Bèguèna (The Harp of King David) by Alemu Aga is hypnotic. It's volume 11 of the wonderful Ethiopiques series.
posted by Text TK at 7:02 AM on February 25, 2021

Don't think anyone has mentioned it yet, but there is an entire record lable dedicated to this.

It's called Rockaby Baby, and specialises in Rock / Pop covers.

I can personally vouch for the soothing sounds of their Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins, and Metallica albums but if you don't like older music (or Metal or 'Rock'), then they have a quite extensive catalogue of other artists, ranging from Ed Sheeran to Katy Perry to Snoop Dog.

There's a little something for almost everyone !

I've just notice they added Lady Gaga and Hamilton since I last visited so, yup buying those now.

Only caveat is that the compositions use a lot of glockenspiel so if you are someone who loathes that particular instrument.. stay away.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:03 AM on February 25, 2021

My son is 14 now, but we found movie/musical soundtracks to be great sleep inducers. Our favorites have been Tron: Legacy, Star Wars, Hamilton, Wall-E, School of Rock, Spiderman - Into the Spiderverse, etc. We have already really enjoyed Tame Impala albums.
posted by victoriab at 7:10 AM on February 25, 2021

If you like Nick Drake - Pink Moon then you might like David Gray - White Ladders and Jeff Buckley - Grace.
posted by victoriab at 7:16 AM on February 25, 2021

the soundtrack for Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris is pretty fantastic
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:19 AM on February 25, 2021

lambchop's "is a woman" is my go-to calm down record and one of my friend's daughters went to sleep to it every night for yeaaars. (the deluxe version has stuff tacked on that isn't quite as hushed as the album, which is supposed to end with the title track)
posted by noloveforned at 7:24 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Bill Evans, Conversations with Myself
Bernie Worrell, Elevation - The Upper Air 
Berlioz, Les nuits d'été
Lots of solo Bach, too: Cello Suites, Partitas, etc.
posted by miles per flower at 7:27 AM on February 25, 2021

Becks "Sea Change" may be worth checking out.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 7:33 AM on February 25, 2021

Japancakes, The Sleepy Strange.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:52 AM on February 25, 2021

Diana Panton might be a good option. "I Believe in Little Things" is the kids album, and some of the tracks might be too catchy for sleeping, but the album overall is peaceful. I haven't listened to her other work.
posted by skunk pig at 8:04 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Jeez, most of my usual recommendations are covered already! Sigur Ros, Hem, Japancakes...
Japancakes is one of the things my grandma and I used to enjoy together. Really, any of their stuff is pretty mellow; their cover of MBV's Loveless is a weighted blanket of comfort.

One that hasn't come up yet is Enya. Her music helped flip my switch to "off" on many an overcaffeinated college test-prep night.
posted by notsnot at 8:18 AM on February 25, 2021

When I Was around 12, I dug up my dad's record collection and spent about a year falling asleep to Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues.
posted by voiceofreason at 8:19 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Air - Moon Safari
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:36 AM on February 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

I am very surprised not to see any mention here of a set of three brilliant, highly listenable albums that were designed for exactly this purpose: Soothing Sounds for Baby by the great genius Raymond Scott.

Sure, they're pegged to certain age ranges, but whatevers. My young adult self fell asleep to these albums many, many times. Bonus: the music is really good, complex, and innovative, even as it lulls.

I also used to fall asleep to Steely Dan's Gaucho all the time, but YMMV.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:48 AM on February 25, 2021

In college, when I'd want to take a nap, I'd always fall asleep to Eagles' Hell Freezes Over. Skip the first song, or listen to it while getting ready, and the rest are very mellow.

Another chill CD: Pink Floyd's Division Bell. Very mellow and easy to relax to.
posted by hydra77 at 9:11 AM on February 25, 2021

Perhaps On the Trail from Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite or perhaps another passage from that work.
posted by forthright at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2021

Joni Mitchell -- Court and Spark
This Mortal Coil -- Filigree and Shadow
Cocteau Twins -- Victorialand
The KLF -- Chill Out (alhtough this is more soundscape than songs)
George Winston -- December
posted by archimago at 9:55 AM on February 25, 2021

The wailing jennies? Peter Paul and Mary? I think most of their albums would be good for this.
posted by azalea_chant at 10:17 AM on February 25, 2021

My daughter has many times contentedly fallen asleep to Cat Power's The Covers Record. The covers in question are very cool and sparse, and often don't make use of the whole of the original song. It truly is an album with a distinctive, unified sound. Recommended!
posted by redfoxtail at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2021

I fell asleep to Anonymous 4's Love's Illusion from 1994-1999.

Now, I listen to other Anonymous 4 albums (particularly The Origin of Fire and Hildegard von Bingen: 11,000 Virgins - Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula).

Really, any Arvo Pärt albums are also good (Da pacem especially).

In something completely different, I trade off the vocal music above with Junip's Fields and Nightmares on Wax Smoker's Delight.
posted by catdapperling at 11:00 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

We use Norah Jones's Come Away With Me and Feels Like Home. They're pretty low-key and there aren't any tracks that spike too upbeat or loud. Elizabeth Mitchel is great, too. We have You Are My Little Bird and Sunny Day. Both have a couple track that rock a little, if memory serves, but they work for our kids.
posted by that's candlepin at 12:15 PM on February 25, 2021

Voices by Vangelis is a frequent go-to-sleep album for me. There are parts that are anthemic, but not especially active. It flows really nicely, and it's sonically beautiful.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:35 PM on February 25, 2021

Enya seems like an obvious one
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on February 25, 2021

Diana Krall, The Look of Love. Chill, low-key jazz standards. A few of the songs are a bit up-tempo, but no blaring horns or anything. I find it an extremely soothing album!
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 1:04 PM on February 25, 2021

I just realized there's (I think only) one track on Voices that has some singing in English, but it's pretty innocuous content.

Maybe Down to the Moon by Andreas Vollenwieder - new-age harpist.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:09 PM on February 25, 2021

I am so gratified to come in here and see that my suggestions have been suggested! Seconding Hem, especially Rabbit Songs, but their other albums might also work for you and your kiddos, and also Anonymous 4. My favorite Anonymous 4 albums for chilling are as mentioned, the Hildegard von Bingen one, as well as their Americana record called American Angels.

Other possibilities for you:
Golden Age of Radio by Josh Ritter
The Animal Years by Josh Ritter
Hourglass by James Taylor
Leave Me Breathless by Ane Brun
Dagger Beach by John Vanderslice
posted by fairlynearlyready at 1:57 PM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I remember falling asleep to Kenny Loggins' Return to Pooh Corner and More Songs from Pooh Corner as a kid.
posted by Aleyn at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2021

This one is tested on a real, music-loving, bedtime-loathing kid: Ludovico Einaudi – Elements.
posted by musicinmybrain at 7:41 PM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

My 1 year old daughter falls asleep every night listening to the album Nordhem by Henrik Lindstrand, who did the Lego Builder’s Journey video game music. I find it just interesting enough to be calming.
posted by samthemander at 10:04 PM on February 25, 2021

Best answer: My kid is instantly calmed and primed for bedtime when I put on
Under a Green Corn Moon, a compilation of Native American lullabies (various tribes). Soothing and beautiful.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 10:28 PM on February 25, 2021

Cowboy Junkies - The Trinity Sessions, as long as you’re ok with deep melancholy
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:41 PM on February 25, 2021

Stereolab's Emperor Tomato Ketchup, maybe. I'll need to give it another listen to ensure non-wakeyness.

Definitely Air's Moon Safari.
The Cure's Faith (may cause gothness).
posted by pompomtom at 3:33 AM on February 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lots of great suggestions here already. I would add some Jakob Bro, a Danish jazz guitarist who makes some almost ambient sounding music. Gefion would be a good place to start (the link goes to a live recording of the song by the same name as the album which was all I could find on YouTube). Another one to try might be Hundreds of Days by harpist Mary Lattimore. Both are excellent albums that are as great to listen to as they are to fall asleep to.
posted by sveskemus at 2:53 PM on February 26, 2021

Broken Social Scene - Feel Good Lost
posted by Acey at 3:45 PM on March 3, 2021

Trinity Sessions has a piercing harmonica solo on Track 10, avoid

Nightmares on Wax instead
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:54 PM on March 3, 2021

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