Famous Nursery Rhymes That Are Totally Inappropriate for Kids

by Briana Marie
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Many parents sing these famous nursery rhymes to their children to entertain, soothe, or help them drift off to sleep.

However, after actually analyzing some of the lyrics in these songs, it has been discovered that many of these songs are about rather dark subjects. Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out this list of Famous Nursery Rhymes That are Totally Inappropriate for Kids. 

famous nursery rhymes

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Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice,
Three blind mice
See how they run,
See how they run!

They all ran after
The farmer’s wife
She cut off their tails
With a carving knife
Did you ever see
Such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?

Yikes! The image of three blind mice having their tails cut off, is bad enough. However, this rhyme is believed to have historic symbolism as well. As the story is told, there were 3 Protestant loyalists who were believed to be plotting against Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary), and these men were burned at the stake as punishment.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Peter Peter pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well!

Umm. . . wow. Peter is holding his wife hostage. . .

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London Bridge is Falling Down

London Bridge is falling down,

Falling down, falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair lady.

Set a man to watch all night,

Watch all night, watch all night,

Set a man to watch all night,

My fair lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,

Fall asleep, fall asleep,

Suppose the man should fall asleep?

My fair lady.

The London Bridge falling down surely would be one deadly event. The lyrics are nowhere near as happy go lucky as the rhythm itself.


Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

This song has always had me like “huhhh?” Why are we singing songs about babies falling out of trees??? I’m sure if babies actually understood what we were saying, they would be absolutely terrified to fall asleep to this song.

Ring Around the Rosie

Ring around the rosie

A pocketful of posies

Ashes, ashes

We all fall down!

This nursery rhyme allegedly references the Great Plague back in the 1600s where victims broke out in a rash, and had a smell they would try to conceal by carrying herbs and spices in their pocket. Ultimately, they would die and the remains were cremated. There are multiple versions of this popular rhyme, however.

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Holy crap! This rhyme is about an old lady who is basically losing her mind because she has so many children. She then feeds them a very minimal meal and beats the poor children before making them go to bed! Sheesh.

Moral of the story: Be mindful of what you sing to your children.

Did any of these popular nursery rhymes on the list surprise you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! We would also love for you to share some of the other crazy nursery rhymes you have heard as well.


  • Briana Marie

    Briana Marie is a mental health and financial literacy advocate, and founder of Major League Mommy. In her spare time, Briana enjoys yoga, travel, and spending time with her Husband and two daughters.

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