I think I know ‘Baby Shark’ is about to play before I hear any notes of the song. That’s how many times that song has forced its way into my ears over the last four years.
I have two little ones: the first one went through a heavy ‘Baby Shark’ phase about two years ago. Interestingly, his hook into the catchy, colourful South Korean sensation wasn’t the song, but they found the Baby Shark sound book I’d been translating for work. For them, Baby Shark was a book first, a song second. Perhaps an inevitable introduction when your mum works on the books for a license…!
From there, we had a solid few months where Baby Shark was our life. The song was on almost constantly. We read the books for bedtime every night, and they’d make their way downstairs too. We had Baby Shark stickers all over every surface in the house, especially surfaces I didn’t know existed before we had a sticker-loving toddler. We had the PJs, which I couldn’t wash quick enough at one point (luckily they washed beautifully, they are still worn (though short now) eighteen months later!), the slippers. But then, as inevitably happens, they grow, change and become engrossed in something else.
Phew, I thought. I can spend some time now without ‘Baby Shark’ being my mental ear worm. Brilliant … Except I have a younger little one, who is now going through their ‘Baby Shark’ is life phase. In 2023, I think this might be an official developmental stage! It hits different the second time round, mainly because when they came home from nursery saying “BAB-EH SHARK” my stomach plummeted to the floor. It’s too soon. I’ve only just stopped listening to this song. Why has this come round so soon? I was secretly hoping that maybe they’d skip it entirely because I’d only just finished hearing it constantly; I’d got it out of my system.
But alas. No. We’re back fully in the stage of life where I avoid saying two ‘doo’ sounds too close together, lest they hear and demand I play it on Spotify. I know I am not alone in this 2023 parental dilemma.
I have become quite inventive at trying to fulfill the Baby Shark demands this time round. These are some of the ways I’ve tried to add variety for my sanity:
1) I start talking about sharks generally, and will search some images or videos on my phone to look at together.
2) I churn out every shark fact I know, which are far above my youngest’s head, but me and my oldest enjoy this part. “Did you know that sharks were swimming in the ocean when dinosaurs roamed the Earth?!”
3) I put on their ‘Baby Shark’ slippers and then they run around pretending to be a shark.
4) Pinkfong (the company who created Baby Shark) have some great educational apps. My oldest loves the ABC Tracing one which really helped develop their fine motor skills, as well as teaching them how to interact with the digital world. It’s a great way to combine their love of a license with a developmental skill.
5) Opening mouths wide like a shark is a great way to get them into an easy position to brush their teeth (though this does often devolve into them snapping like a shark sometimes!).
Gemma Wilkinson-Lowe is Roy's Second Boy's First Girl - AKA first grandchild of her generation. She is a mother to two toddlers (otherwise known as Roy's Second Boy's First Girl's First Boy and Second Boy).
Gemma is an editor and writer of children's books, with a particular passion for making reading and stories fun, enjoyable and accessible for all children of all abilities. You can also read other interesting blogs from her at Gemma Writes Stuff.