The Charm of Spanish Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies

Spanish nursery rhymes

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Nursery rhymes and lullabies are an integral part of childhood across the world, and Hispanic culture is no exception. These simple and melodious verses have been cherished for generations, handed down from parents to children. Not only do they serve as a delightful way to engage and bond with young ones, but they also provide an excellent opportunity for language learning.

Spanish nursery rhymes offer a delightful and effective way for parents and educators to introduce children to the Spanish language. Their poetic simplicity and their catchy melodies make it easy for young learners to engage with the language in a fun and interactive way. They provide numerous benefits, such as vocabulary building, developing proper pronunciation and intonation, and creating a cultural connection with the diverse traditions and stories of the Spanish-speaking world.

In addition, they’re always a fun bonding activity for families or in a classroom. So for today’s post, we’re introducing 15 of the most well-known nursery rhymes and lullabies in Spanish!

Types of nursery rhymes in Spanish

Before we delve deeper into the magic of nursery rhymes and lullabies, let’s clarify how to refer to them in Spanish. Nursery rhymes can be translated as canciones infantiles or simply rimas infantiles. On the other hand, lullabies translate to nanas or canciones de cuna.

While the terms are similar, canciones de cuna specifically refer to the soothing songs sung to babies so they fall asleep, whereas canciones infantiles encompass a broader range of children’s songs and rhymes.

15 classic Spanish nursery rhymes and lullabies

Without further ado, let’s sit tight and learn some classic nursery rhymes in Spanish!

We provide the original texts of the Spanish lullabies and rhymes here, along with our own English translations.

Los pollitos dicen – The little chicks say

This classic Spanish nursery rhyme tells the story of little chicks and their mother hen. It’s a favorite among young children for its simple lyrics and cute imagery.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Los pollitos dicen,
pio, pio, pio,”
cuando tienen hambre,
cuando tienen frío.

La gallina busca el maíz y el trigo,
les da la comida y les presta abrigo.
Bajo sus dos alas, acurrucaditos,
duermen los pollitos, hasta el otro día.

 The little chicks say,
“peep, peep, peep,”
when they are hungry,
when they are cold.

The hen looks for corn and wheat,
gives them food and shelters them.
Under her two wings, huddled together,
the chicks sleep, until the next day.

La cucaracha – The cockroach

This nursery rhyme in Spanish originated in Mexico, and while it has many variations across Latin America, it often features the misadventures of a poor cockroach.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar,
porque le falta,
porque no tiene
la patita principal.

Una cucaracha grande
se metió en un hormiguero,
y las hormigas traviesas
la patita le comieron.

The cockroach
can no longer walk
because it lacks
because it’s missing
it’s main leg.

A big cockroach
got into an anthill
and the sneaky ants
ate its leg.

Estrellita, ¿dónde estás? – Little star, where are you?

This Spanish lullaby is the adaptation of the classic “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Estrellita, ¿dónde estás?
Quiero verte titilar.
En el cielo sobre el mar,
un diamante de verdad.
Estrellita, ¿dónde estás?
Quiero verte titilar.
Little star, where are you?
I want to see you twinkle
In the sky above the sea
a real diamond
Little star, where are you?
I want to see you twinkle

La vaca Lola – Lola the cow

A cheerful song that introduces children to a lovable cow named Lola, this rhyme is adored for its catchy tune and repetitive lyrics.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
La vaca Lola, la vaca Lola,
tiene cabeza y tiene cola.
La vaca Lola, la vaca Lola,
tiene cabeza y tiene cola.
Y hace muuu.
Lola, the cow,
has a head and a tail.
Lola, the cow,
has a head and a tail.
And goes moo.

La vaca lechera – The dairy cow

Yet another Spanish nursery rhyme about cows, this one describes a special cow that gives sweet condensed milk! Just so you know, when it says that the cow is “salada” doesn’t mean that the dairy it gives is salty, but rather that the cow is “unlucky.”

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Tengo una vaca lechera,
no es una vaca cualquiera.
Me da leche condensada.
Ay, ¡qué vaca tan salada!
Tolón tolón,
tolón tolón.

Un cencerro le compraron
y a mi vaca le ha gustado,
se pasea por el prado,
mata moscas con el rabo.
Tolón tolón,
tolón tolón.

I have a dairy cow,
not just any cow.
She gives me condensed milk.
Oh, what a salty cow!
Tolon, tolon,
tolon, tolon.

They bought her a cowbell
and my cow liked it,
she wanders through the meadow,
She kills flies with her tail.
Tolon, tolon,
tolon, tolon

Duérmete, niño (El Coco) – Sleep, boy (The Boogeyman)

Spanish lullabies often have elements of fear to convince children to go to bed. The main character of this one is el Coco, the Spanish equivalent of the Boogeyman.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Duérmete niño,
duérmete ya,
que viene el coco
y te llevará.

Duérmete niño,
duérmete ya,
que viene el coco
y te comerá.

Sleep, child,
sleep now,
or the bogeyman will come
and take you away.

Sleep, child,
sleep now,
or the bogeyman will come
and eat you up.

Tengo una muñeca – I have a doll

This one is a funny song about a doll who gets sick and learns math.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Tengo una muñeca
vestida de azul,
con zapatos blancos
y medias de tul.

La llevé a paseo,
se me constipó,
la tengo en la cama
con mucho dolor.

Esta mañanita
me dijo el doctor
que la dé jarabe
con el tenedor.

Brinca la tablita
que ya la brinqué
bríncala de nuevo,
yo ya me cansé

Dos y dos son cuatro,
cuatro y dos son seis,
seis y dos son ocho,
y ocho dieciséis.

I have a doll
dressed in blue
with white shoes
and tulle stockings.

I took her for a stroll
and she caught a cold
now she’s in bed
with a lot of pain.

This morning,
the doctor said
to give her cough syrup
with a fork

Skip the hopscotch
I already did it
Do it again
I’m already tired

Two and two are four
four and two are six
six and two are eight
plus eight, sixteen.

La lechuza – The owl

This popular Spanish nursery rhyme is usually sung when trying to prompt children to be quiet. It’s quite popular among school teachers and babysitters.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
La lechuza, la lechuza,
hace shhh, hace shhh.
Todos calladitos,
como la lechuza
que hace shhh, hace shhh.
The owl
goes shhh.
Everybody quiet
like the owl
that goes shhh.

Arroz con leche

This interesting song is a sweet rhyme that likens rice pudding to a wedding.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Arroz con leche,
me quiero casar
con una viudita
de la capital
que sepa coser
que sepa bordar
que ponga la mesa
en su santo lugar.

Yo soy la viudita,
la hija del Rey.
me quiero casar
y no hallo con quién.
Contigo, sí, contigo, no.
Contigo, mi vida,
me casaré yo.

Rice pudding
I want to marry
a widow
from the capital
that knows how to sew
knows how to embroider,
and set the table
in its rightful place.

I am the widow,
the King’s daughter.
I want to get married,
but I can’t find with whom.
With you, with you not
With you, my love,
I will get married.

A la nanita nana

Originally a carol composed in honor of the Baby Jesus, it later became a popular lullaby in Spanish. Often, Jesus’s name is replaced with mi niño (my boy) or mi niña (mi niña). This song is a bit long to be included here, so we’ll include the most popular verses.

Spanish lullaby English translation
A la nanita, nana,
nanita, nana,
nanita ea
Mi Jesús tiene sueño,
¡Bendito sea, bendito sea!

Fuentecilla que corre
clara y sonora.
Ruiseñor que en la selva
cantando llora.
Calla mientras la cuna
se balancea
A la nanita, nana,
nanita, ea

A la nanita, nana,
nanita, nana,
nanita ea
My Jesus is sleepy,
Bless Him!

Little spring that flows,
clear and resonant,
The nightingale in the forest
that weeps while singing,
Hush while the cradle
is rocking,
A la nanita, nana,
nanita, ea

El elefante del circo – The circus elephant

Kids love to do a little dance pretending to be elephants when singing this charming song about an elephant that does tricks.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
El elefante del circo
mueve sus patas así,
es muy grande, muy pesado
y no se parece a ti.

Si le das un manicito,
su gran trompa moverá
y luego con las orejas
muchas gracias te dará¡

Gracias!

The circus elephant
moves its legs like this,
it’s very big, very heavy
and doesn’t resemble you.

If you give it a little peanut,
it will move its big trunk,
and then with its ears,
it will thank you very much.

Thank you!

Un elefante se columpiaba – One elephant was swinging

This is a popular counting rhyme in Spanish. It is often used to teach children numbers while having fun with the playful imagery of elephants swinging on a spider’s web. It can go on forever if you don’t stop singing!

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
Un elefante se columpiaba
sobre la tela de una araña,
como veía que resistía
fue a llamar a otro elefante.

Dos elefantes se columpiaban
sobre la tela de una araña,
como veía que resistía
fue a llamar a otro elefante.

One elephant was swinging
on the web of a spider,
since he saw that it held
he went to call another elephant.

Two elephants were swinging
on the web of a spider,
since he saw that it held
he went to call another elephant.

Duérmete, mi niño – Sleep, my child

This lovely lullaby is particularly popular in Venezuela. In fact, its melody is identical to that of Venezuela’s National Anthem. This remarkable connection exemplifies the profound cultural impact that Spanish lullabies can wield.

Spanish lullaby English translation
Duérmete mi niño, que tengo que hacer
Lavar los pañales, hacerte de comer.
Duérmase mi niño que tengo que hacer
Lavar los pañales y hacerte de comer.

Ese niño quiere que lo duerma yo,
que lo duerma la madre
que fue quien lo encargó.
Ese niño quiere que lo duerma yo,
que lo duerma la madre
que fue quien lo encargó.

Go to sleep, my child, I have chores to do
Wash the diapers and prepare your food
Go to sleep, my child, I have chores to do
Wash the diapers and prepare your food.

That child wants me to lull him to sleep
Let his mother do it,
for she gave birth to him.
That child wants me to lull him to sleep
Let his mother do it,
for she gave birth to him.

A la víbora de la mar – The sea snake

This one is a traditional Mexican children’s game and song that involves forming a circle of participants who move in a coordinated manner while singing the song. The game can be played at gatherings and parties and is a fun way for children to engage in physical activity while singing along.

Spanish nursery rhyme English translation
A la víbora, víbora de la mar,
por aquí pueden pasar.
Los de adelante corren mucho,
los de atrás se quedarán.
To the sea snake,
you can pass through here.
Those in the front run fast,
those in the back will be left behind.

Arrorró, mi niño – Lullaby, my child

This is a traditional Spanish lullaby that is often sung to soothe and comfort babies and young children.

Spanish lullaby English translation
Arrorró, mi niño,
arrorró, mi Sol,
arrorró, pedazo
de mi corazón.

Este niño lindo
se quiere dormir,
y el pícaro sueño
no quiere venir.

Este niño lindo
que nació de noche,
quiere que lo lleven
a pasear en coche.

Lullaby, my child,
lullaby, my Sun,
lullaby, piece
of my heart.

This lovely child
wants to fall asleep,
but the mischievous sleep
doesn’t want to come.

This lovely child
born at night,
wants to be taken
for a ride in the stroller.

Conclusion

That was fun, wasn’t it? The world of Spanish nursery rhymes and lullabies is a treasure trove of cultural richness, educational value, and pure childhood joy. These timeless verses have transcended generations, serving not only as enchanting melodies but also as a gateway to language learning and a source of endless fun for children and adults alike.

Through the simplicity of their lyrics and the catchiness of their tunes, Spanish nursery rhymes offer an effective and engaging way for parents, educators, and caregivers to introduce children to the Spanish language.

So, as we wrap up our exploration of these charming Spanish nursery rhymes, here’s a friendly nudge: don’t just read about them, sing them! These rhymes are your ticket to a world of laughter, learning, and connection. Sing them loud, sing them proud, and keep the magic alive for generations to come!

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