Music soothes and supports a baby’s social and emotional growth, and it offers cognitive benefits for baby as well. You can get as simple or complex as you like with a wide variety of toys and activities to help introduce your little one to everything from classical to country. Here are 10 ways to introduce your baby to the magic of music.
1. Sing to your baby.
It seems simple, but so many parents may forget or hesitate to do it: Sing to your baby! “Parents have long soothed babies with just the comfort of their voices,” says Raffi (pictured above), the “Baby Beluga” songwriter who recently released a new album, Dog on the Floor. “Babies are soothed by a parent’s familiar, loving voice, even with the simplest of lullaby melodies.” So brush up on classics like “Hush, Little Baby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” You can even just hum your favorite T Swift tunes. Whatever is easiest to remember and most fun for you will work just fine for your wee one.
2. Encourage making noise.
As soon as your baby is able to comfortably grasp and manipulate objects, give them household items that make interesting noises. This could be a closed container filled with dry rice or beans, pots and a wooden spoon, a metal whisk and cupcake tin, some crinkly tissue paper, or anything else that produces sound. See what your baby does with the items first and show enthusiasm and interest in the results. You can make noise together and demonstrate new ways of tapping out a rhythm.
3. Introduce your favorite playlist.
Playing recorded music is another way to encourage a child’s love of songs. Put on a record or ask Alexa to fire up your favorite playlist. It doesn’t have to be “baby” or “kid” music; it can be anything you enjoy. Another option is listening to the family-focused albums of some musicians you may already be familiar with, like Lisa Loeb’s Lullaby Girl or Shawn Colvin’s The Starlighter.
4. Find your old instruments.
Dig out your trusty trombone or dust off an acoustic guitar and show your little one how you play an instrument. Even if you haven’t done it since your days in the school band, your child won’t care about any imperfect playing.
5. Offer a wooden musical toy.
Baby toys that double as instruments or basic noisemakers are always a hit with newbies. The Petit Collage Musical Menagerie Wooden Animal Instruments ($30, above) has three different percussive playthings to choose from: an elephant shaker, a lion with bells, and a giraffe guiro (a Latin American percussion instrument). Let your little one choose a favorite and Mom and Dad can play the others to make for your first family band.
6. Sign up for a music class.
Attending a music class is a great way to add a social aspect to the experience for baby. There are classes based on age and also some where the age can range widely so your wee one can learn from the bigger guys. And, chances are, you can attend a free trial class in between seasons to see how you like it. Then, each week, you and your child will have a chance to hear live or recorded music, play with egg shakers, tambourines, drums, and more, and sing and dance with other families and caregivers.
7. Try an activity toy.
Infants and young toddlers will flip for the Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym ($49.99). It takes advantage of baby’s near-constant movements by keeping a keyboard right where all the action is afoot. Whether your wee one wants to lay down and play, try tummy time, or has learned to sit up, they can press the musical notes on the keyboard to hear individual pitches or short songs.
8. Engage in interactive play.
Any bouncing babe with head control would love to listen to and look at this interactive HABA USA Musical Crocodile Glove Puppet ($15.99, above), which gives older siblings, parents and caregivers a fun way to inspire a love of music and play. The little reptile has a handheld accordion sewn onto one paw, which you can manipulate to squeeze and squeak against the other paw padded with Velcro.
9. Introduce a plush that plays tunes.
Vosego’s stuffed bears that play classical music is a great option for introducing new sounds and melodies to little ears. The Ludwig and Amadeus bears ($54.99, above) will play 40 minutes of Beethoven and Mozart’s best compositions at the press of a belly button. There’s even an autobiography to be found in each bear’s pocket for Mom or Dad to read to baby.
10. Tickle the silliest ivories.
If your child has already shown tons of interest in music and mastered simple instruments, they may want to check out the PlayMonster Mirari Pop! Pop! Piano ($25.95) for a wild ride of sound. Let them figure out how to press the keys and hear a sound, then delight as they see a star pop up and jump to another pipe. And with the flip of a switch, you can toggle between musical notes and silly, kid-friendly sound effects like giggles and boings.
—Whitney C. Harris
featured image: Vosego