Musical Instruments for Toddlers: Encouraging Development Through Music

Todays post, a continuation from my previous post, will introduce different musical instruments for toddlers. As mentioned in the previous post providing musical experiences for your toddler can assist with their perceptual development, while also allowing them to become familiar with some of the basic elements of music. These elements included rhythm, melody, and pitch.

Baby playingThere have been many studies conducted that have shown many other benefits of providing musical experiences to toddlers. Perceptual development is just one area that is benefited. Readers of the previous post also mentioned the enjoyment it can bring to the parent and toddler. One reader even discussed fond memories of engaging in musical activities with their parents. These suggestions alone are proof that the choice to introduce music into your toddlers life is a good decision.

Todays post will cover the following topics

  • Choosing Musical Instruments for Toddlers
  • “Real” vs “Toy” Instruments
  • My Suggestions

Choosing Musical Instruments for Toddlers

All  of the suggestion made in this post have been carefully chosen with a toddler in mind. As a mother and an educator I know that toddlers are still early in their development, thus there are certain things that need to be considered. Here are just a few things that should be considered when choosing your child musical instruments.

  • Size: It is important to realize that your child’s hands are still very small. It is important to keep this in mind. They need to be able to freely manipulate and experiment with the musical instrument without difficulty.
  • Color: Toddler are drawn to bright and colourful things. You may have noticed that most of the toys available are often decorated with bright and cheerful colours. The instruments you choose should also have this feature.
  • Weight: Real instruments can be quite heavy. If the instrument is too heavy your child may have difficulty exploring the instrument. Most parents know that our children like to carry things around. My daughter is always choosing a new area of the house to play. This desire should be allowed, as it is helping them explore the world around them.
  • Small Pieces: Perhaps one of the main reason for choosing musical instruments that have been manufactured with a child in mind is safety. We all know that children like to put things in their mouth. It is crucial that we ensure that the instruments we provide are sturdy enough to with stand this type of use. It could be a disaster if you choose a shaker that falls apart and sends small beads rolling all over the floor, or even worse, swallowed by your child. Regardless of the instrument you choose, supervision is an absolute must.

“Real” VS. “Toy” Instruments

Many parents and experts believe the best way to introduce our children to musical instruments is by providing them with authentic experiences. In other words, we want our children to experience music using actual instruments. I also believe that this important. Whenever possible it is great to provide our toddlers with real musical instruments.

But there is a “but.” Not all instruments are suitable for children. We must remember that musical instruments can be extremely expensive. Many musical instruments also have small pieces that could be dangerous to a small child. This is why we turn to “toy” instruments or musical instruments that have been designed with the toddler in mind.

“Real” Musical Instruments for Toddlers

There are many musical instruments on the market that are suitable for small children. I will not be able to cover them all in one post but I can certainly introduce a few of them.

Junior drum setJunior Drum Set – A junior drum set is basically a mini drum set. It has all the basic components that is included in a regular drum set but is scaled down in size to better suit a small child. If this is something that interests you can learn more about the junior drum set here.

pBone/pTrumpet – The pBone and pTrumpet are revolutionary instruments made of plastic. The pBone is a plastic trombone and pTrumpet is a plastic trumpet. Other then the fact that these instruments are plastic, they look and sound like the real thing. I know you are probably thinking this is just not possible, but I have proof. If this is something that interests you, you can find the proof and learn more here.

Recorder – The recorder is one of the most simple wind instruments that you can provide for your child. They are a prime choice because of their durability. Most mass produced recorders are made of plastic and are relatively inexpensive. This is also a great option because many children will start learning the recorder in elementary school if their school has a music program.

I will caution against purchasing cheap recorders at your local dollar store. I know from experience that these recorders will not last, nor are they remotely close to the real thing. They have very poor intonation, which will most definitely stand out if the child uses the instrument for school or ensemble purposes. Here is my recommendation. I wouldn’t buy anything else. It is recommended by most elementary school music programs.

“Toy” Musical Instruments for Toddlers

The instruments mentioned below are intended to be toys, rather then actual instruments. However, many musical toy instruments are fantastic representations of musical instruments and are much easier on the wallet when your child is still exploring. I have made every effort to only recommend toys that will indeed provide an authentic experience and encourage musical exploration.

Melissa & Doug Band in a Box

Band in a box

  • Melissa & Doug Band In A Box
  • Price: $18.34 USD
  • Available at Amazon.com
  • Currently has a 4.5/5 star rating based on 531 reviews

This is a fantastic treat for any toddler that will provide hours of musical fun. All of these instruments are  percussion instruments that make a variety of sounds.  The manufacturer recommends this product for children over the age of 3 but a child under 3 years of age could also enjoy this toy with strict adult supervision.

Click here to learn more and to read what customers who have bought this toy have to say.

Hohner Kids / Glockenspiel (Xylophone)

Hohner's Kids Xylophone

  • Horner kids/Glockenspiel (Xylophone with song book)
  • Price: $27.80 USD
  • Available on Amazon.com
  • Currently has a 4.5/5 stars rating based on 146 customer reviews

This classic xylophone is a great choice for musical exploration. It is perfect for exploring pitches, playing simple melodies, or the High and Low Game mentioned in my previous post regarding music and toddlers. Customers who have purchased this instrument does caution that children should be supervised as the balls on the mallets may come off.

Click here to learn more or read what customers who have bought this toy have to say.

Melissa and Doug Learn-To-Play Piano

Play Piano

  • Melissa and Doug Learn-To-Play Piano
  • Price: $56.76 USD
  • Available from Amazon.com
  • Currently has a 4/5 stars rating based on 828 customer reviews

Here is a musical toy that ticks all the boxes when it comes to toddler friendly. A toddler will definitely be drawn to colours of this cute little piano. It also has a decent range for a toy piano, which is 25 keys covering 2 full octaves. This little piano lends itself well to the high and low game mentioned in my previous post.

Click here to learn more or read what customers who have bought this toy have to say.

Remo Kids Percussion Floor Tom

Kids Drum

  • Remo Kids Percussion, Floor Tom, 10 Diameter with Mallet, Rain Forest Fabric
  • Price: $33.99 USD
  • Available from Amazon.com
  • Currently has a 5/5 stars rating based on 520 customer reviews

My final choice for todays post is a well crafted child’s drum from Remo. It is interesting to note that this drum received the Oppenheim Gold Seal Toy Award for product quality. A true assurance that it is the perfect choice for our children.

This drum would be a fabulous choice for allowing your child to discover rhythm as well as dynamics. It would be perfect for the musical hide and seek game mentioned in my previous post.

Click here to learn more and read what customers who have bought this toy have to say.

Now there’s some great musical instruments for toddlers

There is a large variety of musical instruments available for toddlers from a variety of manufactures. There is absolutely no reason that a child cannot begin exploring music using the toys mentioned above or any other musical toy. There is no need for the parent to have any musical training. Just a desire to have fun with your child. I surely hope I have opened your eyes to the true benefits of providing your child with musical instruments and musical experiences.

It would be fabulous to hear what other people think about providing musical experiences for toddlers. I would also love to hear your recommendations regarding musical instruments. Perhaps your little one has a favourite toy that was not mentioned here. Please feel free to leave any comments of questions you may have in the comment section. I will be sure to get back to you. Lets work together to promote music education for all, starting with our dearest little explorers, by keeping this conversation going.

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20 thoughts on “Musical Instruments for Toddlers: Encouraging Development Through Music

  1. What a great post! I love reading articles on your website because I am very musically-affiliated myself, and my love for music started at a young age. Personally, I had a toddler version of a boombox, and a small piano with 5 keys on it. The boombox played some of my favorite tapes, and I would sing along into the little microphone. I truly believe that is why, when I started piano lessons, I learned the music better by hearing it first, rather than sight-reading it. Additionally, I had intonation that was more advanced than that of my peers. This is due again to the boombox and singing along to music on tapes. Again, great post and I hope many parents will take your advice and start making music with their young ones!

    1. Thank You Rachel!! I was also very into music as a child. Apparently when I was a child everyone knew when I was using the washroom because I would sing my heart out. :) My parents found it a little embarrassing in restaurants, but hey it must mean something because I still love music. Enough to make it my career.

      I bet your exposure to music as a child was definitely what made your intonation so great. Many young musician will learn by ear before they learn to read music. My first tune was the MacDonald’s theme song that was on TV at the time. My first piano teacher was amused. She thought I was going to play old MacDonald. Fooled her. haha

      Thank you Rachel for adding to this conversation. I think each one of us, who have been touched by music, can emphasize the importance of musical instruments for toddlers by just telling our stories.

  2. Wonderful post. When I was 6 years old my mother took me to a music school to learn classical violin. A few years later she enrolled me in a music theory course. I did well but by age 14 I had already switched to guitar and started my own band. So my first love is good music. As Ray Charles once said, “There’s only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.”
    For toddlers, which I think you mean 3-4 years old, I think drums would be the easiest to learn, and probably the most fun. But as they age they could be encouraged to explore other instruments that attract them.

    1. Hi and thanks for stopping by. I purposely didn’t pick set ages mainly because toddlers all develop at different rates. Most parents will know when their child is ready for musical activities. My little lady has been experimenting with music since the old enough to sit on my lap at the piano. I have been playing nursery rhymes with her since she was born. Now at 4 years old she is learning Hot Cross Buns on the piano using stickers that I have stuck on the keys.(She is definitely special for me to stick things to my piano (: )

      Although Toddlers will not understand pitched instruments they can certainly benefit from exploring the different pitches by fiddling with a child sized piano or keyboard. They are also percussion instruments. I do agree that drums are the best choice to start them off, but the parent will know if their child is ready for pitches.

      Thanks for sharing your story! Another great example of why we should get our kids started early! Let’s keep the conversation going.

  3. What a lovely website and such a good idea to encourage our youngsters to dabble with instruments at an early age. Your advice about buying the right sized instrument and also keeping it colourful and easy to carry, is something most of us wouldn’t even think about.
    Choosing an instrument that’s made for children means it will be light and hopefully safe. As you rightly say, toddlers are always putting objects in their mouths and safety is of prime importance. This site is very clearly set out and easy to read. I can imagine a lot of parents and grandparents getting some Christmas ideas from here. Ches

    1. Hi Ches! Safety is most certainly a major concern with our little ones. I often wonder if my daughter sees everything as food haha. Everything goes into her mouth.

      I sure hope that many people get Christmas ideas from my post. Music has power for each and every one us, young and old.

      Thanks for reading Ches!

  4. Hi Melody,
    Thanks for such a nice website with so much information about children and the musical instruments . I am not musical incline at all, i love music but I can’t carry a note at all . I think it is wonderful that parents start their children off early with a music instrument.

    The review was well presented with safety information about the instruments . the review was well presented and in order. Clean site . Job well done . keep up the good work .
    Brenda

    1. Thanks for reading Brenda. When it comes to musical instruments and toddlers, safety has to be high on the priority list. To most of us, they are our whole world so it crucial to think safety first. :)

      And thanks for compliments! greatly appreciated.

  5. This is a very well done article.

    I would think that thee decision of whether to get your child a real or toy instrument would be partly down to their age. The younger they are the more suitable a toy instrument would be for them vs a real one.

    Then once they get a bit older and develop more interest in learning to play an instrument you would introduce them to a real instrument of choice.

    Interesting read and very well explained.
    Hannah.

    1. You are very right with regards to real vs. toy. It really depends on the developmental level of the child. I wouldn’t have dreamed of giving my daughter a real instrument at 2 years but many children are able to understand the importance of being careful. I think depends on their personality. My girl is a wild little thing so I have to be careful what I give her.

      All children are different. I always say the parent knows best.

      Thanks Hannah for your comment!

  6. Great Post! I loved all things music as a child and I am so glad my parents encouraged me by putting me into classes and buying all of the toys. I have a god-daughter and although she is only 6 months I really want to begin introducing her to different things. This post has given me great information on what to choose for my little one. Thank you so much, I look forward to more great information from you.

    1. 6 months is a great age to start. They can explore all kinds of stuff at that age. Little percussion instruments such as shakers are great options. I also found that my little lady liked to hit thing so perhaps a little xylophone with mallets (Make sure the mallets don’t have those little balls that can come off). The xylophone can help with hand and eye coordination, as well as, exploration. :)

      Thanks for reading and leaving me a comment!

  7. Great post! When I was a child I loved the recorder and my son loved the one he got at around 8. Interestingly, he will sometimes turn to it to play when he is frustrated. I love that and think music is a great outlet for kids. The options you have on this page look great and I think both of my kids would really enjoy the drum set!

    1. If they love music then the drum set would indeed be a hit. My little girl loves her drum set. I think I mentioned it before but I also sit and have a little go at it every now and then. Its nice to hit something and be allowed to do it. :)

      Introducing musical instruments to toddlers is certainly providing them with an outlet to vent their frustrations. It will be of great benefit to them as they get older, whether they become professional musician or simply play for the fun of it.

      Thanks for your comment!

  8. Great post!

    I think everyone should play music, whether seriously or as a bit of a hobby. It’s good for the soul and a lot of fun.

    I’m all for getting children into playing an instrument, but I’d never force a child to have to play if they really didn’t want to.

    I agree it’s good for their development and you’ve really covered and put a lot of thought into the right kind of instruments to suit toddlers and how also to keep them safe.

    1. Forcing a child to play is never a good thing. Our job is to introduce music as an option and make it fun. If it becomes a chore or something that is forced then it is no long fun and will just be another activity they don’t want to do. There are certain points of a child’s development that they will need a little push to practice but forcing them to play if they clearly don’t want to is a bad idea. Sometimes they need to walk away to realize that they liked it. I stopped playing for almost a year and was completely lost, although I was pretty sure I was done when I gave up so you just never know.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment. :)

  9. My little (ok maybe not so little) girl recently asked me for a guitar. I’m very musical so I guess she’s grown up around quite a bit of music but I was surprised.I’m guessing she saw a friend with it. I’ll give her time to be more exposed at school then we’ll see. Definitely have you bookmarked!

    1. Thanks for stopping by May. There are tons of options for affordable guitars for beginners. A guitar doesn’t have to be expensive to sound and look great. Stay tuned. I will be looking at guitars again in the near future.

  10. Your page has a lot of great information for choosing an instrument for a child. I was not aware of the benefits that come with teaching a child to play an instrument early on, and will be doing more research on this once I have my own children. Thanks for your information! Great site!

    1. Thank you for reading. I am happy you were able to see how important music really is to children. please feel free to ask questions anytime!

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