Having a child is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can go through. It’s no wonder, therefore, that so many musicians have chosen to write songs inspired by their children.
From The Beatles and Stevie Wonder to Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran, all have written songs about their little ones, containing the messages that they want to pass on. Children are our future, and all of these artists want to make sure that it’s in safe hands.
Even artists who don’t have children of their own have been inspired by childhood. Many have written songs through the eyes of children, exploring a young person’s unique, innocent perspective on the world. We’ve collected 21 of the best songs about children for you to enjoy.
“Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” – Taylor Swift
This sweet love story from Swift begins when the two protagonists are just seven and nine years old. The childhood friends grow up side by side, with their parents making frequent jokes about the two of them one day getting married. Of course, they do in the end.
“Mary’s Song” was inspired by Swift’s real life next door neighbours. They’d been together since they were children and were still deeply in love with each other, a story that Swift found incredibly inspiring as she was growing up.
“Hey Jude” – The Beatles
“Hey Jude” was originally “Hey Jules.” McCartney wrote the first draft of the song as a letter to John Lennon’s 5-year-old son, Julian, during his parent’s divorce. When Julian heard the story behind the song as an adult, he reported being incredibly moved by it.
Julian and McCartney were very close as the boy was growing up, with Julian recalling seeing more pictures of him and McCartney playing together than him and Lennon. The switch to “Jude” was reportedly inspired by the character “Jud” in Oklahoma! of which McCartney was a big fan.
“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder
Wonder’s timeless love song was written to celebrate the birth of his daughter Aisha. The recording features audio between Wonder and his infant daughter, and Wonder tries to convince her that bath time is over. Wonder later sang a duet with Aisha on his song “How Will I Know”, nearly thirty years after the recording of “Isn’t She Lovely.”
Wonder’s wife Yolanda also gets a shoutout in the track, with Wonder praising her for being the one to carry their child. The singer played all the instruments on the track, with only some additional keyboard being provided by Greg Phillinganes.
“Bertie” – Kate Bush
Bush dedicated this track to her young son, Bertie. In the song, she compares him to sunshine and says that he has “the most truly fantastic smile I’ve ever seen”. She’s full of praise for her son and can’t stop gushing about all he adds to her life. “You bring me so much joy/And then you bring me more joy,” she sings.
“My Little Love” – Adele
This emotional ballad is all about Adele’s relationship with her young son in the wake of her divorce. “I know you feel lost, it’s my fault completely,” she sings. Audio footage of Adele and her child talking to each other is interspersed throughout the track.
The song sees Adele – both verbally and through music – trying to communicate to her son how lost her divorce has made her feel, and how she’s still struggling to find her way. It can be hard for children to see their parents unhappy, and Adele does her best to speak honestly with her child about the situation she’s in. “Mama’s got a lot to learn,” she sings.
“Blue” – Beyoncé ft Blue Ivy
When it’s all feeling a bit much, Beyoncé finds comfort in her child’s eyes. Her daughter Blue Ivy brings meaning and light to her life when nothing else does. “Each day, I feel so blessed to be looking at you,” she tells her.
Beyoncé uses a lot of cliches associated with falling in love – holding someone tight, feeling your heart beat faster, finding them always on your mind – to express how she will be in love with her child forever, and how this relationship has meant more to her than any romantic connection ever could.
“Three” – Lily Allen
This tender piano-driven track sees Allen trying to imagine what the world might look like through the eyes of her three-year-old child. The life of a professional musician can take Allen to a lot of different places and she sometimes worries that her child won’t understand why she has to leave. “Please don’t go/Stay here with me/It’s not my fault/I’m only three,” she sings in her child’s voice.
“I Am A Child” – Neil Young
Young is another musician who has attempted to understand life from the perspective of a child. He questions the world around him and wonders why the adults get to make all of the rules. “I’d like to know what you learned,” he sings. Children often feel like the adults around him have all of the answers, and Young plays with this idea, as an adult who still feels like he has a lot left to learn.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses
“She’s got a smile that it seems to me reminds me of childhood memories, when everything was as fresh as a bright blue sky,” sings Axl Rose in the first verse of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” This iconic rock track about loving someone pure and innocent has been covered many times over the years, often by parents enamoured by their new babies.
“Father And Daughter” – Paul Simon
This sweet love song to his daughter sees Simon reassuring her that he’ll never be too far away from her. “And though I can’t guarantee there’s nothing scary hiding under your bed, I’m gonna stand guard,” he tells her. Later in the song, he assures her: “There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.”
He passes on advice about trusting her gut and making sure that she remembers to enjoy her life, before telling her how excited he is to stand by and watch her shine. The gently upbeat guitar instrumental with Simon’s smooth vocals make this a wonderful emotive listen.
“Rockabye” – Clean Bandit ft Sean Paul & Anne-Marie
Clean Bandit with the help of Sean Paul and Anne-Marie sing an emotive ode to single mothers in “Rockabye.” They tell the story of a young woman determined to work hard and give her young child the life she could never have.
“No one’s ever gonna hurt you, love – I’m gonna give you all of my life,” she tells him. Sean Paul’s voice reminds the child to always remember what his mother sacrificed for him and to never take it for granted.
“Kids” – Ben Rector
We’re all still children in a way, Ben Rector reminds us. Looking back on old photographs of him and his wife, he can’t help but think how young and inexperienced they seem to him. “We were kids back then,” he sings. However, he knows that one day he’ll remember his wife standing at the window with their infant daughter and think the very same thing.
‘seven’ – Taylor Swift
Swift assumes the voice of a seven year old girl swinging over a creek in this folk-tinged song from her 2020 album, folklore. The girl strikes up a friendship with another girl her age, who has a home life that the young girl can’t quite understand. “I’ve meaning to tell you, I think your house is haunted,” she sings.
“Your dad is always mad and that must be why.” She asks her friend to come live with her instead and play games all day. All these years later, the protagonist still looks back on her childhood friend with a lot of love.
“Leave Your Life” – Ed Sheeran
Sheeran is another musician who worries about the impact his career might have on his relationship with his children. He is concerned that when he’s always rushing off to catch another flight, his young daughter might feel abandoned.
“I’m never gonna leave your life,” he tells her. Despite his skill at writing songs, he says that he will never be able to pen lyrics that properly capture the love he has for his child.
“You Belong” – Rachel Platten
This tender ballad from Platten begins with a recording of her unborn child’s heartbeat. “I’m patiently waiting for you to arrive, I wanna meet you so much I could cry,” she sings to her baby.
The song is full of her plans and promises surrounding motherhood, and her assurance that no matter who her child turns out to be or what they do, they will always belong with her. “I’ll show you what love is and all that you’re worth,” she tells them.
“Only One” – Kanye West ft Paul McCartney
This complicated track from West deals with both the euphoria of being a new parent to his daughter, North West, and the grief of losing his mother, Dr Donda West. Kim Kardashian, North’s mother, has revealed that “Only One” makes her cry every time she hears it, and that it’s her favourite of West’s songs.
The song features McCartney on the keyboard. The two wrote the track together over several sessions, as West imagined a conversation with his late mother. West felt so sure that his mother was speaking through him in the track that she is credited as a co-writer.
“My Little Girl” – Tim McGraw
McGraw lays it all out in this big country ballad, dedicated to his daughter. “You’ve had me wrapped around your finger since the day you were born,” he sings. He’s amazed to find that the baby he once knew is now almost grown up. No matter where she goes in life or what she does, she’ll always be his little girl.
“Little Sister Song” – Kid Sistr
Younger sisters are always in a rush to grow up. Indie rock group Kid Sistr sing about a couple of little sisters who are tired of being children and can’t wait to grow up and do all the things that their older sisters get to do. They’re so impatient, in fact, that they’re already dressing up and getting into trouble.
“Kids” – Current Joys
Current Joys are still children at heart. “Oh, I am just a kid, I never use my brain,” they sing cheerfully. However, as the song progresses, it becomes clear that growing into adulthood hasn’t been everything they thought it might be.
As the song comes to a close, they pass on advice to any children who might be listening: your dreams are always worth following, even if your brain tells you that they’re unrealistic.
“Teach Your Children” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Written by Graham Nash, this song deals with the difficult relationship Nash had with his father. He wanted to write something so personal that everyone would be able to relate to it. It’s safe to say that he succeeded, as “Teach Your Children” is one of the most widely beloved songs about children and parenthood.
The band encourage both children and parents to support each other through life, with a particular emphasis on how parents need to help prepare their children for the world and offer them a cushion of love to fall back on.
“When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)” – The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys assume the voices of their younger selves as they wonder how different they might be in adulthood. They wonder if they’ll always enjoy the same activities or like the same sort of girls as they do in childhood and adolescence. “What will I be when I grow up to be a man?” is a question that a lot of children ask themselves.
Childhood is an incredibly special time that a person can never get back. Some people look back on their childhood fondly – others think about everything that they hope will be different for their own children. Whether you’re a parent of children or just someone who wants to reflect back on their childhood, music can help you to connect to what it’s like to be young.
Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.