Jingle all the way

. February 11, 2013.

Toledo stands out among the places I’ve lived, as a relatively large number of local businesses tout their wares and services through the use of  jingles.  And I have to admit, some of those local tunes are catchy. 
Spontaneous singing
Living with baby, one quickly learns to be a troubadour of spontaneous jingles, some of which end up being memorable enough to merit repeat performances. When baby first arrives, parents no doubt try to soothe with well worn anthems of their own childhood.  These lullabies, to be sure, have stood the test of time. 
But some of the lyrics, are, to be frank, disturbing.  Consider “Rock a Bye Baby.”  What is the baby doing in a treetop?  Who puts a crib on a branch?  Certainly that violates the warnings that come with the crib.  Is it really supposed to make anyone ready to sleep, hearing stories about babies crashing to the ground after heavy storms?  To me, that’s a bit darker than our newborn’s fussiness demanded.
Songs for every occasion
So instead we have a series of jingles surrounding baby’s daily activities.  A song about “Daddy Lap Time” (carrying a restless infant around the house in circles) to the tune of “Alice’s Restaurant”:
You can go / Anywhere you want / During Daddy Lap Time
And a song about how delicious baby rice is to some variant of a march:
Baby eat your rice / baby eat your rice / baby won’t you eat your rice? / IT’S NICE
And any number of songs about going potty, of course, can be developed by replacing the word “you” in nearly any pop song with “poo” (or “me” with “pee”).  Which means that variants of familiar classics emerge with regularity.  Think imaginatively of Lionel Richie’s classic, “Say You, Say Me.”
Looking at these lyrics in print, I’m somewhat embarrassed at their poor quality.  Bear in mind, most of these songs were composed with little time for reflection and in moments of sleep-deprived new-parent insanity.  But regardless of their quality, familiar tunes can help guide baby through her daily adventures.
The facts
Scientists have explored the innate fascination babies seem to have with music along a number of dimensions.  The University of Amsterdam researchers, for instance, have formed a “Music Cognition Group,” and have found that babies can appreciate rhythm and the beat of music from birth (visit www.musiccognition/newborns for more information).
It was with great joy that we discovered our baby had learned her first song.  For better or for worse, though, it was a song played during the transitional sketches inserted between cartoon shows on a family-oriented television network.  The singing in question was carried out by two colorful monkeys, so baby’s first song, when rendered in public or in front of unfamiliar ears, sounded a lot like the primate habitat at our beloved Toledo Zoo.