If the prospect of one more child-led performance of Wheels on the Bus makes you want to tear your ears out, we get it. But the aural annoyance of musical instruments for kids, whether it be a baby drum set or toy guitar, is more than worth the potential headaches, per the early childhood development researchers at Zero to Three.
Music is a shared activity, so it fosters 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 get a sense of pride when they hit a drum, and hear the resulting bang. But that’s not all. 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 sway or shimmy or shake, they learn balance and awareness of their bodies.
If you’re not ready to attend any of the myriad musical classes out there for toddlers, you can bring tunes into your own home with toy instruments that help kids unleash their inner Adele or Childish Gambino. We looked at the most durable, enriching, and fun musical toys that are worth your money. Sound-proofing is extra.
Best Musical Instruments for Kids
Babies bang on this drum set to either create their own beats, or listen to pre-programmed ones.
Sure, it’s quite possibly deafening at times. But when kids use drumsticks, they actually help build muscles in their hands and hone their motor skills.
Kids can pluck away and dream up their own melodies, or play along to programmed beats.
When kids play a guitar and realize that plucking at a string produces a sound, it helps boost their sense of achievement and self-confidence. This mini guitar is great for kids one and up.
OK, we sort of want this musical gator for ourselves. The set includes a drum, xylopnone, guiro wooden block, and a bell, plus two mallets for playtime duets. Because you know you'll want to join in.
This instrument, for kids two and up, 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.
Unlike other bulkier drum kits, this one lays flat on the floor and is great for younger babies just getting the hang of crawling.
Great for babies six months and older, 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.
If you're trying to get your kid started on the guitar, this is the perfect beginner instrument that looks like the real thing.
Not like does this guitar look totally badass, but it has the ideal three-string design and ease of use you want.
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.
This bongo set has three different play modes for any discerning musician.
When your kid has it in music mode, the bongo plays a song and your child can add his or her drum sounds of choice. Or, they can bang away without any backup tunes.
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. It’s great for kids three and older.
You've been warned: This drum set is loud. But it's also crazy fun for kids, who learn to play three drum pads and cymbal, each with its own unique sound. Plus, they can play along to nine different music styles.
This is a great toy for kids ages two to five. It has four play modes: Free play, letters, numbers, and follow-along. Kids bang the drum with their sticks, which are included.
How dope is this: A keyboard can be held like a guitar and connects to your music library via the chord tracker app.
Once you connect the keyboard to your digital music library, your kid gets chord data transmitted via Bluetooth or MIDI. And this means your kid can play music like a (sort of) pro. It’s great for kids eight and older.
Even Eric Clapton had to start somewhere. And somewhere can be this starter guitar, which has six authentic guitar strings.
This is literally a pluck and play toy. It comes fully assembled, and kids can have jam sessions using this toy guitar, which is an actual six-string instrument. It’s suitable for kids ages three and up.
One of our favorite toy brands has created the ultimate musical kit, which includes a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, a clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle, plus a sturdy wooden storage crate.
This set, ideal for pre-schoolers, lets kids form their own band. They can explore sounds and make their own, using the included tambourine, cymbals, maracas, a clacker, tone blocks, and triangle. It’s a great set to foster sharing and cooperation.
Built for younger musicians, this toy instrument features a five-bar xylophone, a maraca tail, two clacking saddle blankets, and wooden mallets for a toddler's first foray into the world of tunes and beats.
Kids 12 months and older can meet their new favorite llama. The tail doubles as a maraca. The saddle blankets become drums. And there are detachable wooden mallets. Kids can bang and drum and spin gears. It helps build coordination and teach cause and effect.
This wooden drum set is perfectly sized for toddlers and it has everything they need to create what passes for music, including drums, cymbals, and rhythm makers.
Once your kid reaches a certain age, every surface in your home becomes a drum. This includes, but is not limited to, high chair trays, coffee tables, windows, the cat, and if you’re very lucky, your face. This adorable beginner drum set at least offers the illusion of an appropriate space for drumming. It’s great for kids 36 months and older and promotes dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
In a nutshell, this is a mess-free, portable doodle board that lights up and plays music when your kid touches it.
This is a musical tablet that flashes lights and plays sounds when your two-year-old touches it. It plays one of six songs and changes colors as toddlers scribble on it.
Because honestly, who doesn't need a blue ukelele in their life? This one is fully playable and easily tunable.
Your three year old will channel Tiny Tim (sorry!) with this miniature ukelele. 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.
If you're really and truly brave, get your kid this bass drum. It happens to be an ideal starter kit that looks like it belongs at Coachella.
Your kid gets a complete drum kit with a throne, cymbal, pedal, and drumsticks. Earplugs sold separately. It’s great for kids three and up.
If your (older) child aspires to be the next DJ Marshmello, he or she will love this starter smart controller to create custom beats.
Kids learn to mix with this smart controller, which connects to a smartphone. Even beginners will sound like pros thanks to the Transition FX feature, which lets them choose from 11 effect styles and slide the crossfader to smoothly switch tunes.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.