Written by Camilla King

Arts

Sesame Street songs to soothe an irate baby

Camilla King offers a heartfelt thanks to the Sesame Street muppets for cheering her miserable child when they both needed it most.

Elmo and India Arie sing the alphabet. Photo: Sesame Workshop.

India Arie and Elmo sing the alphabet. Photo: Sesame Workshop.

The sound of a screaming baby initially elicits a feeling of sympathy for most people. But the sentiment very quickly becomes something more akin to: “Please, please stop crying, I will do anything to stop this terrible, horrible noise. Please stop right NOW or my brain will explode.”

My eldest son suffered from severe reflux as a baby (which meant a whole lot of pain, crying and no sleep) as well as multiple food allergies that went mostly undiagnosed until he was three. By the time we were trying to wean the poor kid, he quite understandably didn’t enjoy food. At all. Stealth tactics were required to get him to consume anything, and with babies this equals distraction. What could be more soothing than the golden glow of a screen? I know it’s all I want to look at approximately 96 per cent of the time.

Still, I had a strong sense that sitting my baby in front of the telly for every meal (in addition to that bit around 5pm when he was inconsolable, and the other bits of the day when I needed to do stuff) was not going to be conducive to healthy food associations.

My phone, on the other hand, was so small and at the time had a really nice purple case, so it just felt a bit more socially acceptable to pop on a YouTube video for him to gaze open mouthed at while I ninja-style popped in the old puréed carrot. It’s all about balance, right?

“I can also confirm that watching these videos is a perfectly acceptable way for adults without children to pass the time. Two hours’ viewing before bed will leave you feeling joyful.”

The main drawback of enlisting the help of the old electronic nanny, though, is that children have terrible taste. Anything lurid, poorly animated, and voiced in a way that earworms into your head until ripping your ears off seems like a perfectly acceptable solution is kiddie crack.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Allow me to introduce you to the Sesame Street YouTube channel. More specifically, the celebrity songs. Here you can bask in childhood nostalgia, satisfy your inner music snob and cheer your miserable child – and you, too.

Sesame Street is definitely educational so you can dial down the worry about the psychoactive effects of screen time on small children, and focus on having a bit of a giggle with your offspring.

I can also confirm that watching these videos is a perfectly acceptable way for adults without children to pass the time. Two hours’ viewing before bed will leave you feeling joyful. Here’s my child-approved rundown of the best numbers:

Patti Labelle sings the alphabet

If you try to sing along to this in the style of the goddess that is Patti Labelle you’ll probably make your baby cry, but it’s still immensely and weirdly satisfying to really let rip and get down with the old ABCs.

Johnny Cash sings Nasty Dan

Johnny Cash and Oscar the Grouch being grumpy and singing country – what’s not to love?

The alphabet with Elmo and India Arie

Neither of my kids learned their alphabet from Sesame Street; they learned it courtesy of a plastic singing dinosaur. Forget your best intentions, your home will become a landfill of plastic shite and educational videos probably won’t work, but your kids may well pick up some flirting techniques from Elmo which will always serve them well:

Celebrity Lullabies with Ricky Gervais

Please note: this is not a lullaby. But it is guaranteed to make children (and adults) smile.

Elmo’s Song

Not in any way a celebrity song, but this was my son’s all-time favourite Sesame Street offering. We had to sing it to him when he was sad, when he was happy; it was great for any occasion. It’s just sweet, and lovely and the words can be changed to fit family members’ names, which amuses small children.

Paul Simon sings Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

It’s a fact that kids love watching other kids, and this song features a diddy Mary J Blige being ridiculously talented even as an eight(ish)-year-old.

James Taylor sings Jelly Man Kelly

On a similar theme to the Paul Simon clip, this is guaranteed to get even wee babies shouting along “OOOOHH”. Cute.

Goo Goo Dolls and Elmo Sing Pride

Ah, my youth. This video is peak 1990s, from the swoopy camera work, regrettable baggy trousers and strong chance that the band didn’t realise they were filming a Sesame Street video, instead thinking this was just a very excellent drug-induced experience. It also taught my son that eating peas was good (he still won’t eat them) and brought us a shared joy in rocking out.

Adam Sandler sings A Song About Elmo

I think we can all agree that this is Adam Sandler’s finest work.

BB King sings The Letter B

Blues for babies: I defy you not to do a bit of head bopping to this (see also John Legend and Hoots for more awesome blues business).

More love for Sesame Street here.

@millking2301

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Written by Camilla King

Freelancer in the arts. Unwilling expert on Batman, dinosaurs and poo (there are children) and running widow of @UpDownRunner. Lover of music, cake and lady stuff. @millking2301