May 19, 2013

Creating a Musical Environment for Baby

Welcome to the "Music Fun for Your Little One" series brought to you by House of Burke and And Next Comes L, where we will be featuring a variety of activities perfect for introducing music to young children.

Music has always been an important part of Kingston's daily routine. We do a lot of singing, fingerplays, and dancing here at the House of Burke. I took years of singing and piano lessons as a child, so it came naturally to me. For hubby, it was a different story. For awhile he was nervous to even allow himself to sing to K. Now, Dada is the one who hums Kingston to sleep every single night. What is Kingston's favorite song you ask? Frosty the Snowman. We could out-Frosty the best of them over here!

Recently, I have started to incorporate more opportunities for Kingston to make music on his own! We do a wide variety of sensory play over here, but I feel like we neglect sound exploration. A lot of the instruments I have come across say ages 3+, but I feel that with the proper supervision, your baby will greatly benefit from being introduced to an array of different instruments at a young age. The music and movement connection is very important to an infants development. I constantly sing to K during play and encourage him to "dance, dance" or "jump, jump" to any music! I love watching him light up when he realized that through cause and effect, he can actually make music on his own. When he smacks his little piano and realizes that he is in fact the one making that cool sound, he gets really excited. I can see that he is benefiting from establishing that musical connection. It is also interesting to see which sounds Kingston loves and which sounds really bother him. For instance, he HATES the sounds of people blowing their noses, tinfoil ripping off of the roll, and the blender, but he LOVES the sounds of corn being shucked, the word "pew", and high pitched singing and instruments. His responses are polar opposite based on different sound tones. I like that he can differentiate between what sounds good to him and what is unpleasant. In order to develop that musical ear a little bit more, I have been attempting to put together a musical environment for him! Below are some of the instruments, musical toys, books, videos, and music that we have been/will be incorporating into our daily life!

As mentioned above, please use caution when allowing your baby to play with instruments that may have sharp edges! 
 (Amazon Associate links included for your convenience.) 
All pictures are clickable and will take you to that product!

The majority of Kingston's instrument collection is currently housed in a small blue bin from the Dollar Tree, although I think it may be time to upgrade! A lot of the instruments we have are second, but we are purchased a few and are always on the look out for more! I will be talking about Kingston's instrument collection more in depth as the week goes on.

Here are some items that you may want to include in your babies musical environment -

Drum: Hand drums are such a fun and safe instrument to introduce to baby! They are simple for baby to play by just patting the top and offer a lot of versatility when paired with song. The drum we have is the LeapFrog Learning Drum! It is an awesome little drum that has four different settings: traditional drum, musical notes, abcs, and 123. All baby has to do is tap the top and they are in business!

Here are some other drums for baby:

Piano: Kingston goes nuts for just about any piano! We have three of them! The one pictured is the Little Tikes Tap-a-Tune Piano. He also has the Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N' Play Piano which is a great big baby controlled piano and music system that has a detachable seat (we are actually missing this piece unfortunately),but can also be controlled by baby standing and using their feet and hands to make music. It has a microphone, a trumpet, drum beats, and much more. It is a great piano that incorporates gross motor skills with musical learning! The other little piano that K has Fisher-Price Miracles and Milestones Peek-a-Boo Piano. This is a soft piano that has a little chick up top that talks and plays peek-a-boo with baby while they play. It is a great piano to introduce to little ones who are only doing tummy time.

Here are some other pianos for baby:

Guitar: Toy guitars are so much fun for baby to explore. They have such a unique sound! Kingston will experience these two guitars for the first time this week! We have the LeapFrog Learn & Groove Animal Sounds Guitar and the Little Tikes Pop Tunes Lil Rocker Guitar . I am excited to see what he does with them what I introduce them to him.

Here are some other guitars for baby:

I like to consider these next sections of our instrument kit the "noise maker" section!

Maracas, Shakers, and Clappers: Our maracas are leftovers from a Melissa & Doug Band in a Box (our clappers came from there also). We have many other toys that we use as shakers that are not pictured above as well. I am hoping to pick up some Egg Shakers this week, and try my hand at making our own using recyclables as well! Clappers (or at least that's what I call them) are so fun for baby to play with because they are interesting to look at it, play with, listen to, and even gnaw on!

Other maracas, shakers and rhythm sets for baby:

Finger cymbals: I picked up this little set of finger cymbals yesterday for Kingston to explore. I think this is a great little instrument for tiny fingers to explore as long as they are supervised! I am excited to put these on Kingston and let him listen to their sound. These are great for developing babies hand-eye coordination! Here is a similar set of Finger Cymbals.

Tambourine: The little tambourine we have is the perfect size and weight for little baby hands to control. I think Kingston will have a great time banging this! Make sure that when offering your baby a tambourine, that the cymbals edges are not sharp and that you are monitoring them during use. With the proper supervision, this is a great instrument for baby to be able to manipulate on their own!

Other tambourines for baby:

Bells: Bells are an awesome first instrument for baby to explore! The sound of bells is melodic and interesting, but soothing enough to entertain even the youngest of babies! We picked up these wrist bells yesterday and Kingston is obsessed with them already! We haven't even put him on his wrist yet. He does a great job of keeping his fingers firmly grasped on the wrist strap while he shakes them. Here are some bells that are similar to the ones we purchased for K, but I'm not sure about the sizing -Toysmith Jingle Bell Wrist Band. Wrist bells are not the only great bells for baby, however! Cowbells, bell shakers, and animals stuffed with bells can all provide musical fun for baby!

Other bells for baby:

Videos: I am not a huge advocate of baby watching movies and/or television, but I am not against it either. I have read all the studies and done all the research, but a part of me will always believe that if it is educational, it DOES have a place in our house! In moderation of course! My mother tells me that I loved watching the occasional educational video and television program as a child, and I already notice that there are certain programs that K is drawn to. If you aren't against incorporating a little bit of media programming into your babies life, here are some of our favorite videos that promote musical learning:

 Baby Songs featuring the musical stylings of Hap Palmer was my absolute all-time favorite movie to watch when I was a baby/toddler. I am so thrilled that they now offer a DVD version and have picked up a couple for K to watch once he shows more interest. Hap Palmer's lyrics are relatable. Although the video footage itself is a bit dated, the songs are timeless and will have your baby clapping along in no time!

 Mother Goose Volume 1 and Volume 2  focuses on classic nursery rhymes. This is another favorite from my childhood, so totally dated as well, but babies and little kids love it! The rhymes are sung in a very catchy way and is a great introduction of music, song, and rhythm for baby.

 Wee Sing in Sillyville (can you tell that I was born in the late 80's?) is another family favorite in the list. I know the words to each of these songs and this DVD can translate to an older crowd too! I'd say it can be enjoyed infant-Kindergarten age. The songs are catchy and fun to perform. It would absolutely make a great movie to jam out to with baby.

Other music related baby DVDs that get great reviews:


CDs: Okay, so I know that most people do not use traditional cds anymore (I still pop them in when we are in the car), but these can obviously be downloaded to your Ipod! Our favorite CD's are Peek-A-Boo - Songs for Young Children by Hap Palmer and Return To Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins. Listening and interacting to music with your baby is by far the easiest way to introduce them to the concept of music and song. An abundance of good music is ideal in creating a musical environment for baby. We also have an ipod playlist for Kingston with a compilation of miscellaneous soothing songs, children's songs, and songs that remind me of him!

Books: Books are also important in creating an enriched musical environment for your baby. Kingston has quite a library, and a lot of his books are also songs. When I read them to him, I make sure that I am singing the tune and not just reading the words. Whereas instruments bring the actual music to life for baby, I feel like singing a story to your baby brings the lyrics of the music to life. These are both very important connections that baby will start to make when engaging in musical play. Some of the books that we sing are, Wheels on the Bus, It's Raining, It's Pouring, and I'm a Little Teapot! It is great to always have a book of fingerplays and common children's songs on hand to introduce baby to a wide array of musical games. 

Of course, there are many other items and experiences that can enrich a baby's musical environment. For example, a parent that plays an instrument can be an awesome way to ensure that baby has a healthy love for music! There are so many great toys and products out there to assist in musical development, but there is nothing more enriching than a parent passing down their own love of music to their child! 

Don't forget to join us all week for more "Music Fun for Your Little One" activities, and check out And Next Comes L's fantastic piano quiet book page


  1. Hap Palmer! J recently discovered a number CD by him and loves it, especially the first song. And the Baby Classical Music DVD is super cute!

    1. Lovvvveee Hap Palmer!! He is my childhood favorite! :)

  2. What a great Post! We love incorporating music into our days too. My daughter's favorite song for the past 3 years has been Frosty the Snowman :) It looks like your little guy has lots of fun instruments to explore! A favorite in our house is a little wooden recorder (from Michael's I believe). They don't get the fingers yet but both my one year old and 3 year old are delighted by the sound it makes when they blow into it and they love when mommy plays them songs :) I will have to check out Hap Palmer. My girl's love Laurie Berkner (and I) LOVE Laurie Berkner but we are always on the lookout for something new!

    1. Thanks Jessica!! That is so funny that you have a Frosty fan also! :) I will have to look into getting a recorder. It sounds like your little ones have a blast with it! I love Laurie Berkner too!! I can't believe I left her out!?! Mommy brain maybe?? I think I will have to go back and edit her in .. she is too good to not be mentioned!