You know by now that music-making with your baby doesn’t require any instruments. You’ve got it all in your body, voice, and hands.
That said, instruments can be a great way to get your baby excited about music. It can be surprisingly delightful to blow into a harmonica and hear a chord, or tap with a mallet on a xylophone and hear a bell tone. Your baby’s delight in hearing these sounds can inspire more and that’s what we want.
Below is a list of some of my favorite instruments for babies and toddlers.
Important tips to keep in mind:
- Your baby will love music if YOU enjoy music with them and in front of them.
- There’s no wrong way to play instruments! And you want to also convey to your baby that all music is “experimental.”
- Try not to get cheap stuff that sounds bad and falls apart easily. If it makes you want ot sit and play with it, it will probably do the same for your baby.
- All of these instruments will say 3+ on them. That doesn’t mean that your baby can’t use them, it just means that she/he should be supervised when they do.
What instruments to buy for your baby:
*I am not affiliated with any of these brands.
This a great first instrument for your baby. As soon as your baby starts to grasp, and doesn’t seem jarred by the sound, you can hand them one of these. Most likely they’ll end up in their mouths at first and that’s totally fine.
There are very cheap shakers out there that don’t sound great to me and can bust open, spreading small beads everywhere. Avoid those.
My favorites are these wooden shakers. They are slightly bigger than the plastic ones which makes them harder to put into little mouths. That said, never give your baby a shaker if you’re not around to watch.
If you’ve been in a Baby in Tune class for older babies, you know that we often dive into drum circles and learn drumming rhythms and styles from other cultures. For years I’ve been looking for drums that don’t take up too much space and still sound good. I finally found them! These nested Frame Drums are perfect for pulling out and having a family drum circle and then being able to store them away.
As another option – these Djembes sound great and come in different sizes.
It’s really fun to play drums along to your baby’s favorite songs. Try Peekaboo, Little Bit Tough, and You Are My Sunshine for some fun songs of mine to play drums with.
Harmonicas are a great first instrument for your baby. They’re are built in one key, so if you are playing a song on the speakers or on the guitar, you can easily play a song in the key of your harmonica.
Showing your baby how to play a harmonica can be a great motivator for them to learn how to blow. Sometimes it helps to blow on their cheek or to blow bubbles and then blow into the harmonica in order to illustrate the concept.
I used to recommend these colorful, plastic Harmonicas, which can take a beating and have a decent sound. But there is a risk of the screws coming out and being a choking hazard.
I love this one which is made fully baby safe (I actually haven’t had a chance to try it yet so please let me know how it sounds if you do.
This is an arrangement of metal bars laid out in a scale (often in C) that sound like bells. It resembles a piano or small xylophone.
I like this Glockenspiel set because you can use as bells separately and as a scale. It might be fun for your baby to take it apart and put it back together. If your child is older, there is this Glockenspiels with musical note boards, and this one.
You can find some very cheap ukuleles out there and they sound pretty awful and fall apart in a day. I’m sure you’ve had that experience already. So it’s worth investing a bit more to get something that will last a bit longer. These Kala Waterman Ukes come in different colors and sound great. I enjoy playing my daughter’s even more than she does.
So there is your list, dear Tunie.
Now, make me a promise: When you buy instruments for your baby, sit with them, play with them, make music together. Let them feel that the magic of music comes when instruments , voices, and ears interact.
Which instrument have you tried and loved or hated? COMMENT below and let me know.
Who’s your most (or least) musical parent friend? Share this Tuesday Tune-In with them and tell them to sign up for more below.