Baby Storytime: Favourite Dancing Songs

Our series on baby storytime continues!  This week I’m sharing my favourite songs for getting caregivers and babies up and moving.  Make sure to check out the other posts in this series before reading on.

I love to dance.  I especially love dancing with a bunch of babies. Toward the end of my storytime I ask the caregivers to stand up with their babies and guide them through some of these songs.  It’s usually the most fun part of babytime and the part where caregivers see the most smiles.  One thing I’ve learned to do is give the caregivers a few minutes to stand up and get comfortably situated with their child.  It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to stand up!  I wait until everyone’s had a chance to get on both feet and get baby ready too.

Here are some of my favourite dancing songs to do at babytime:

I love songs that let caregivers personalize the words. For this one, I tell caregivers to sub out the name “Katie” for their baby’s name. I love that each verse lets us do something different – dance, tickle, and lift.  Funny story – I completely forgot the tune to this song a few weeks ago and one of the moms said, “I think it’s to the tune of “Drunken Sailor.” Lo and behold, she was right!  That’s not the tune we use in the video, but it works in a pinch.

I always feel like we’re pretending to throw our babies out the window when we sing this song, but it’s super easy for caregivers to learn.  Some of the moms at my babytime have taken to swinging the babies in their arms for the first verse.  Before we start singing, I match each baby with another baby and talk about how much babies love to look at human faces. It’s a great way to make a new friend!  My friend Jamie taught me a third verse that goes, “Climb up and down the ladder” which is a great chance for babies to be lifted in the air.

Not every song has to have lifting in it. In fact, sometimes I think I forget how heavy those babies are!  This is a great song to use for some general dancing and bouncing. I always sing it multiple times and sub out “Mama’s” for “”Papa’s,” “Auntie’s,” and “Grandpa’s” just to show how you can play with the words of a song to fit your family’s needs.

A Vancouver classic! We have a lot of elevators here.  Most babies love to be lifted up and down, but one modification I suggest to caregivers is to simply move their arms up and down instead of their whole body.

In the video we show this as a scarf song, but it’s quickly become my second favourite elevator song to do with babies!  For the first part we dance and bounce babies, and then caregivers lift babies up starting from the ground to above their heads.  It is quite the arm workout!

This is a toddler favourite, but I started using it in baby storytime for two reasons.  Firstly, I wanted the caregivers and kids to be familiar with some of the songs when they transition from babytime to toddler or family storytime.  And we do this one every.single.week in family storytime.  It’s also just a really fun dancing song!  I encourage caregivers to crouch down with their baby when we count down and then jump up.  It can also be used as a lifting song.  Don’t forget to check out our extra verses.

I can barely make it through this one without laughing, but this is a super fun song to end babytime with.  When we’re up and dancing, I have the caregivers either swing babies for the first part or lift babies, depending how many other lifting songs we’ve done.  I always mention that popular music is still music – and babies will recognize the songs you love to sing and dance to.  Sometimes we keep it going with, “If you liked it then you should of put a bib on it.”

There you have it! My favourite ways to boogie at babytime.  What are your favourite storytime movement and dancing songs? Let me know in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Baby Storytime: Favourite Dancing Songs

  1. Perfect timing! I’m new(ish) to Baby Storytimes starting in a couple of weeks! These are such fun ideas…your sharing is always so very much appreciated! I was planning on doing Go In and Out the Window with the babies, but then I decided to do the same activity with the song below which I’ve recently discovered and am very fond of (read: completely obsessed with). I can’t wait to see the babies all excited about other baby faces! 😀


    1. You’re very welcome, Anne! I love Elizabeth Mitchell – one of the best musicians out there making music for kids in my opinion! She has a song called “Shoo Lie Loo” that I use with older kids as a parachute game. Thanks for sharing the video – now I’ve got a new song in my pocket too 🙂

  2. I like to use “Zoom zoom zoom” in my baby times – sometimes with the addition of a “far far far we’re going to the stars”, or a “wee wee wee we’re going to the sea” for variety. It’s nice because it’s so adaptable – little babies can just get a teeny-tiny lift, while older ones can really reach for the stars! I do a lot of movement songs in my story times – I joke that you get a bit of a workout thrown in at no additional charge 😉 I also love “Dancing with Bears” because it’s so gentle and soothing, and “London Bridge is Falling Down” because it’s fun to do a bit of a lowering activity instead of a lifting activity for a change – work those leg muscles! 🙂

    1. I also joke with the caregivers that they’ll get their daily workout in babytime 🙂 Thanks for sharing your favourites, Jane! You are an awesome co-worker to have.

  3. Hello!

    I just started at the beginning of the month as the person in charge of storytime. I’m so excited to get started next week, and your site has been a wonderful resource! We’re having three different times with three different age groups. This will be the first ever baby storytime. I’m going to use a lot of the ideas you have shared. I can’t wait to see what else you do. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kristin, thank you so much for your comment! Baby storytime is the best so we hope you have a great time! We promise to keep blogging about it. ☺

  4. Thank you for all the work you do putting these videos together! I cannot tell you how many times (a week) I credit Jbrary as a source for materials for storytime. Even though I currently live in a city with very few elevators, I love doing “The Elevator Song” at my storytimes. I saw Jane’s comments about adapting a verse to say “wee wee wee we’re going to the sea,” in your “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom” song which I used and then took a step further in honor of “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” The new pirate versions of both of these are as follow:
    SONG: The Ocean Song (to the tune of “The Elevator Song”)
    Oh the ocean is great and the ocean is grand. (same motions as originally given by Jbrary)
    There are lots of tall ships and very little land. (same motions as originally given by Jbrary)
    And we sleep down deep in a hammock near the floor (sway hips as lower yourself to the floor)
    And this is what we do when we go out the door: (open and door and step forward)
    We ride the waves going up, we ride the waves going down (move body or baby up and down depending on age group)
    We ride the waves going up, we ride the waves going down
    We ride the waves going up, we ride the waves going down
    And we turn around.

    SONG: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
    Zoom Zoom, Zoom (hands doing swish style clapping)
    we’re hunting for doubloons.(eye for brow as if scanning horizon and moving head left to right)
    If you want to take a trip, climb aboard my pirate ship. (climbing up ladder)
    Zoom Zoom, Zoom we’re hunting for doubloons. (repeat above motions)
    5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – AHOY! (one hand on hip/one hand overhead as in “charge!”)

    1. Oh, I love these pirate-y adaptations! Thanks for sharing, Maryann!

    2. Oh my Piratey goodness, Maryann! We’re going to echo Anne’s comment and say thank you so much for sharing these additional verses. While we won’t be able to film before tomorrow do you mind if we film the verses you shared and credit you? Let us know!

      1. Hi Dana – Of course you make film them as you see fit! I am honored. And obviously, change or adapt them if you like.

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