Main article: Lullaby
The oldest children's songs of which we have records are lullabies, intended to help a child sleep. Lullabies can be found in every human culture. The English term lullaby is thought to come from "lu, lu" or "la la" sound made by mothers or nurses to calm children, and "by by" or "bye bye", either another lulling sound, or a term for good night. Until the modern era lullabies were usually only recorded incidentally in written sources. The Roman nurses' lullaby, "Lalla, Lalla, Lalla, aut dormi, aut lacta", is recorded in a scholium on Persius and may be the oldest to survive. Many medieval English verses associated with the birth of Jesus take the form of a lullaby, including "Lullay, my liking, my dere son, my sweting" and may be versions of contemporary lullabies. However, most of those used today date from the 17th century. For example, a well known lullaby such as "Rock-a-bye, baby on a tree top", cannot be found in records until the late-18th century when it was printed by John Newbery (c. 1765).  Early nursery rhymes
From the later Middle Ages there are records of short children's rhyming songs, often as marginalia. From the mid-16th century they begin to be recorded in English plays. Most nursery rhymes were not written down until the 18th century, when the publishing of children's books began to move from polemic and education towards entertainment, but there is evidence for many rhymes existing before this, including "To market, to market" and "Cock a doodle doo", which date from at least the late 16th century. The first English collections, Tommy Thumb's Song Book and a sequel, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, are both thought to have been published before 1744, with such songs becoming known as 'Tommy Thumb's songs'. The publication of John Newbery's compilation of English rhymes, Mother Goose's Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle (London, c.1765), is the first record we have of many...
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