6 Best Musical Instruments for Toddlers

We’ve established that learning to play an instrument makes kids smarter, but now what? Do we get an oboe? An accordion? Guitar Hero? Fill up a jar with rice and call it a day? Not a chance. To help you decide, here are the 6 best musical instruments for kids to learn to play, ideal for their small hands!

1. Drums (1-3 years old)

Real drums should best be left alone until kids are at least 12 years old. Meanwhile, there are some amazing toy drums out there that could really help kids start grasping the fundamentals of rhythm. This one by Plan Toys is one of our favorites and seems to be ideal for younger kids and toddlers.

Looking for something for even younger kids? Then shakers or percussion set toys could be your best bet – just keep in mind that these toys are noisy and are best suited for very chill, patient families 😉

Plan Toys Solid Drum

Grab the Plan Toys Solid Wood Drum here.

Find the Plan Toys Clacker here.

2. Xylophones and Glockenspiels (1-3 years old)

We have no idea why young kids love xylophones and glockenspiels, but they absolutely do – and watching them figure out how to play them is entertaining in itself! This is definitely one of the best musical instruments for kids that are still too young to graduate to larger, chord-based instruments but still show signs of some musical vibe. And this one by NINO doesn’t look bad either.

Glockenspiel by NINO

Find the NINO Fish Glockenspiel here.

3. Loog Guitar (3 years old and up)

Ok, ok, ok, ok, we get it. But seriously, how can we not include our very own Loog Guitar? A narrow neck that’s perfect for tiny hands, three strings so that their chubby little fingers can get used to playing, flashcards to learn all the chords (and what they would look like on a 6-string!) and an iOS/Android app that gets them playing songs on day one. We think this is the best musical instrument for kids – but hey, we might be a bit biased on this one.

Loog Guitars

Grab your kid’s first guitar here (Loog Mini).

Grab a Loog Guitar Pro (8 years old and up) here.

4. Handbells (2 years old and up)

You’ve probably seen these before, since they’re a birthday gift favorite for kids with rhythm – most of us have eyed them at some time. It’s easy to see why! Most sets come with a tiny color-coded songbook that shows you how to play kid classics. And most songs require more than two bells, making the extra-hand requirement fundamental to some lighthearted family fun. It’s also a great way to see if your kid is anything close to musically-inclined: rockstar kids will love them, no matter what. Not really what comes to mind when you think of the best instruments for kids, but definitely one to check out!

Hand bells for kids

Get the Jade Active Diatonic 8-Note Metal Bell Set.

5. Piano (3 years old and up)

Piano is definitely in most people’s childhood bucket list and one of the main starter instruments chosen by parents. But, be warned, it’s not for everyone. Learning takes practice and it’s very hard to actually play songs from the get-go. However, there’s nothing as fun as watching a toddler discovering that banging on keys actually produces sound, even if most pianos for toddlers are just giant xylophones in disguise. Also, learning piano works best when one of the parents already knows how to play, or if a tutor is involved. Keep that in mind if you ever want to graduate to a full-size grand piano!

Jaymar tabletop piano

Try the Jaymar 25 Key Table Top Piano here.

Already have a piano? These adorable Monster Piano Stickers for learners are for you.

Monster Stickers for piano by Crosby Audio

6. Kalimba (4 years old and up)

Ever see a kid discover a kalimba? If not, then you’re missing out. Kalimbas are westernized versions of the African karimbas, thumb percussion instruments (or thumb pianos, as they are also called) that make enchanting, unique sounds. Most kalimbas online can be a bit pricey and we found only one that’s made for kids – but rest assured that bringing one home will be fun, educational and, well, a fascinating conversation piece.

Wood kalimba for kids

Find the NINO Percussion wood kalimba in red here.

Find the Jive Brand Kalimba Thumb Piano here.

Any other instruments you’d recommend? Tell us in the comments!

Want a Smart Kid? Give Them a Guitar

The following is a translated excerpt of a piece we found in El País, Spain’s #1 newspaper. You can find the entire piece in its original language right over here. It’s nothing exceptionally new and it reinforces much of what we already say in our Your Kids’ Brain on Music infographic – but it does throw new light on how powerful learning to play music can be, especially at a younger age than we assumed.

Want a Smart Kid? Give them a guitar

"Want a smart kid? Give them a guitar" -  

Music classes boost intelligence levels in kids – unlike technology, which only helps out with certain qualities

Babies are born with practically all of the 86 billion neurons that they’ll have during adulthood. The main difference between their and older people’s brains is that our neurons will already have developed trillions of connections amongst themselves. Each one of these connections can translate into something the kid’s brain has learned. The first six years of kids’ lives are very important – that’s the age in which kids start to lose part of these connections, the ones he or she uses the least.

So knowing this, what can us parents do? Our everyday lives offer a lot of things to do to stimulate our little ones’ brains – and while many of these have built a very good rep, some aren’t really all that useful. Let’s go through them:

Signing them up for artistic activities: Go for music instead of theatre
Much research has been made showing a correlation between cognitive development and learning music (not just listening to it). A study from the University of Toronto published in Psychological Science compared four groups of six year-olds. One group learned how to play the piano for an entire year; the other one studied singing; the other one theatre arts; the last group did absolutely nothing apart from attending regular school. All kids took intelligence tests before and after the year was up. Intelligence levels went way more up in both groups studying music-related fields. Those studying theatre also improved at the end of the year, but mostly in behavior and social adaptation instead of cognitive development. The group doing no extracurricular arts classes showed the least increase in intelligence according to the tests.

Tech devices: only for kids 3 years old and up
“This kid sure is smart! So young and look at how she uses a tablet or cellphone!” Grandparents and aunts and uncles say this often. But a study from the University of Boston, published in Pediatrics magazine, shows that frequent use of these types of devices by kids between the ages of one and three can affect not only their brains but also their social development and emotional abilities. Smartphones and tablets generate stiumli that are so fast and intense, that tiny kids’ brains can’t handle them all that well. “Technology will never improve one’s basic intelligent capabilities. It can help out and drive certain qualities, but it will never improve the underlining pattern”.

So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!