Rock a Bye Baby is one of the most popular lullabies along with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and it has been used to get children to sleep for centuries!
It is no wonder that this popular song has a number of legends behind it. One of the most popular tales links the rhyme to the cradle before the modern strollers as we know them.
These cradles were one of the first pieces of furniture most American families acquired when moving to a new household. These rocking beds appeared in 1700 rising in popularity as they created a swinging motion that made soothing babies easier.
It was not uncommon for families to pass the cradles down numerous generations like a family heirloom. Native Americans would even cut a huge log in half, place scorching coals on the flat surface and scoop out the charred wood.
You are perhaps wondering why would anyone hang a cradle on a brittle tree branch and risk the life of their young one.
Well, according to one English tale, it is said that in the 1700s, the Kenyon Family of Derbyshire, England, hollowed out one large branch from a 2000-year-old yew tree and turned it into a cradle. The movement of the tree in the wind would move the makeshift cradle and soothe the baby to sleep.
The first printed version of Rock-A-Bye Baby’s lyrics was in Mother Goose’s Melody book in 1765. It is worth noting that the original song was actually known as Hush-A-Bye Baby (it should not be confused with the similarly popular Hush, Little Baby).
Rock a Bye Baby Lyrics
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.