If the prospect of one more child-led performance of Wheels on the Bus makes you want to tear your ears out, we feel your auditory pain. Yes, musical instruments for kids often require a serious investment in staples like earplugs. But musical instruments for toddlers, like a baby drum set or toy toddler guitar, are also clutch developmental toys. Music is a shared activity, and musical toys help foster social-emotional skills.
Kids learn to express their feelings through songs. They figure out how to cooperate, especially when they create a mock rock band. Babies and toddlers learn cause and effect when they hit a drum, and hear the resulting bang. In terms of motor skills, music helps kids develop muscles in their legs and arms when they hold guitars or dance around. And when they stomp or shimmy or shake, they learn about balance and gain an awareness of their bodies.
When choosing musical instruments for kids, use your common sense. Toddlers are just learning the fine art of hand-eye coordination and honing their motor skills, so get them stuff they can easily bang on because banging on stuff is fun. Older toddlers and pre-schoolers start to engage in pretend play, so set them up with a musical kit that lets them imagine they’re on a festival stage, or that they’re in a band with their friends. Most of all, get them toys that are well-made and age-appropriate. A guitar that looks dope but is complicated enough for Eddie Vedder will only be discouraging and will wind up in the corner.
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The Best Musical Instruments for Toddlers
This miniature guitar is a great starter instrument for anyone looking to learn how to play. It has a wooden body, real metal strings, and even working tuning pegs. It's tuned to the same notes as a full-sized guitar, however, so your child will have no problem stepping up to an adult version when he or she is big enough.
When toddlers press the keys, they hear a musical sound and see a ball pop out and bounce. This musical toy gives those motor skills a workout, and teaches kids about cause and effect. The keys are soft and pliable, so injury risk is at a minimum.
Once your kid has mastered the Mirari, it's time to move on this instrument. This is a colorful upright wooden piano with 25 keys and two full octaves. Kids can explore what all the different notes sound like, and it comes with an illustrated songbook.
Hey, we get it: Some kids are going to be Paul or John, and others are going to end up as Ringo. This set is perfect for group play, including a little bit of everything: a tunable ukulele, a tambourine, a clapper, a rattle, and a rainmaker.
When kids shake the tambourine, they hear a noise, thus learning cause and effect. It's great for musically inclined tots who just want to play along with his or her Pop.
Because honestly, who doesn't need a blue ukelele in their life? This one is fully playable and easily tunable. It's made of wood, is thoroughly durable, and easy to tune and play. Young kids can figure out and master basic rhythm and strumming skills.
Unlike other bulkier drum kits, this one lays flat on the floor and is great for younger kids who are just becoming mobile. This drum helps kids learn hand-eye coordination and get their first taste of cause and effect when they realize that hitting the drum produces a sound.
What an absolutely brilliant way to introduce your child to both music and cause and effect: He pounds the ball with the hammer, the ball then hits the xylophone, and you hear magical musical sounds. It's all thoughtfully made out of bamboo as well.
Because with a few exceptions, the best toys make kids do the work, this drum set doesn't flash lights or make sounds. Instead, toddlers bang on two sizes of drums with a pair of drumsticks. And boom.
The set includes a drum, xylophone, guiro wooden block, and a bell, plus two mallets for playtime duets. Because you know you'll want to join in. This instrument helps develop hand-eye coordination and a sense of rhythm. And because more than one kid can play, it helps wary toddlers learn how to share.
If you're feeling a Springsteen vibe, arm your child with this wood harmonica, which features numbered notes to help beginners get started understanding music. This wood harmonica is the perfect size for little kid hands, with notes spaced out and easy enough for kids to play.
When your kid is ready to jam with friends, get this kit, which includes a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, a clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle, plus a sturdy wooden storage crate. It's a great set to foster sharing and cooperation.
Kids play this wooden instrument, and hear tones specifically created to appeal to them. And while doing so, they work on their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It's made from maple and comes with one wooden mallet and one rubber-topped mallet.
The Best Musical Instruments for Kids
So your kid has never so much as touched a piano? No problem. This one has 61 keys with LED lights, so kids follow the lights and learn the basics of playing the instrument. The music progresses only when they play the correct piano key, so there's incentive to actually focus and learn. They also get access to instructional videos, games, and tons of sheet music. It has built-in speakers and a 128-note maximum note polyphony, as well as MIDI output and recording.
Combining both creativity and music, children can build a pan flute, an ocean drum, and a box guitar. Once assembled, they can then start to learn how to play. This of this as a musical Legos kit for the STEM-inclined garage band enthusiast.
Both beautiful and beautifully functional, this wood guitar has great intonation, steel strings, and low string action. In other words, it's the perfect starter instrument and includes instructional flash cards.
Kids pluck the nylon strings to create melodies. The harp, meant for older kids with more dexterity, comes with a tuning wrench, as well as an instruction manual to learn with. Hey, this is more pleasing than listening to clarinet practice.
Budding pianists can learn and practice the scales with this voice-controlled piano. This 61-note compact keyboard comes with Alexa built-in, letting kids control most of the instrument's functionality using only voice commands.
You know how we mentioned earplugs earlier? Stock up. This drum kit has everything your percussionist could want: A bass drum with 4 lugs, a mounted tom with 4 lugs, a mounted snare with 4 lugs, a cymbal, and a pair of wood drum sticks, and a padded drum throne.