Introducing toddlers to a musical instrument can be as simple as giving them a set of
pots and pans and a wooden spoon, but if you think your toddler is ready to level up to their first real instrument like a drum set or guitar, the best musical instruments for toddlers can help them develop not only their musical skills but their fine motor and social-emotional skills as well. Sure, it might take a minute for them to reach this little musical prodigy’s level, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly toddlers can actually learn an instrument when it’s introduced as a fun and engaging activity. Can A 2-Year-Old Learn An Instrument?
According to the Suzuki Method,
children as young as 3 or 4 can begin formal training to learn an instrument. But that’s not to say that babies and toddlers can’t have fun exploring the sensory experiences of different musical instruments before that age. In fact, manipulating hand-held instruments (think: shakers, bells, drums) and participating in tunes through song and dance can help little ones with coordination and concentration. It’s never too early to bring music into your home or to take your kiddo to a music class. What Musical Instrument Should A Child Start With?
Because children have shorter limbs and fingers, instruments that come in scaled-down sizes are best for a young child to start with. These typically include
pianos, guitars or ukuleles, recorders, and violins. Instruments that don’t come in smaller sizes or that require an increased lung capacity, like the trombone, are better suited for older children and young adults.
Yet, your child’s natural talents and interests may be the biggest factor in their success in learning to play an instrument. So instead of choosing an instrument that
you want them to learn, pay attention to what they show interest in or what music style they gravitate towards. If toddlers feel a sense of joy and are praised and encouraged positively when learning an instrument, versus pressured, the more likely they are to be engaged throughout the process. What Instrument Is Best For Brain Development?
As mentioned above, simply exposing your child to music is going to be great for their
overall brain development. But to add further nuance, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that the violin and piano may actually aid cortical thickening, which plays a role in emotional processing and behavior regulating. Both the piano and violin also have the added benefit of teaching a child tone and pitch, setting them up for success in other instruments later on.
Ready to find your toddler’s first instrument? Check out the list below of the 17 best musical instruments for toddlers. All come highly rated on Amazon and some even have thousands of perfect, five-star reviews.
In a hurry? Here are the top picks for the best musical instruments for toddlers: The Best Wooden Instrument Set: Stoie’s International Wooden Music Set The Best Toddler Acoustic Guitar: Loog Mini Acoustic Guitar The Best Toddler Piano: Melissa & Doug Learn-To-Play Piano The Best Toddler Drum Set: oathx All-in-One Kids’ Drum Set The Best Toddler Ukulele: YOLOPARK Toddler Ukulele Guitar The Best Egg Shakers: SallyFashion Wooden Egg Shakers 01 This Ukulele That Your Toddler Will Become Instantly Obsessed With
It doesn’t get much cuter than a toddler plucking away on a
ukulele, and this cute beginner’s ukulele comes in four colors so you’re sure to find one that your little one loves. It comes with a finger-friendly nylon strings and weighs less than a pound, so it’s easy for tots to carry around the house. The durable construction also promises to stand up to years of use. Good thing because this is one instrument your kiddo will reach for for years to come. Helpful Review: “My son(3yo) is entranced by it! He loves hearing it make sounds and stuff and will sit around for hours just strumming it and giggling his little heart out. We've had it for a few weeks now and the love has not died out at all! I'm trying to learn a couple of the songs that came in the booklet to play for it, and it's obviously not in tune, but that doesn't really matter since he's a rough and tumble toddler, so I'd rather it be durable!” Recommended Age: 1+ | Number of Pieces: 3 (ukulele, strap, 1-tone dial) 02 This Fan-Favorite Wooden Music Set
More than 4,400 Amazon shoppers have awarded this cute
wooden music set a perfect five-star rating, and it’s easy to see why. It includes every percussive instrument your little one needs to make new sounds and songs: a tambourine, a castanet, a hand drum, two hand bells, a flute, a maraca, a chime bar, and two different wooden sound bars with sticks. The solid wood construction means this set will hold up for years, and all of the pieces pack away easily in the included cotton drawstring pouch. As one shopper noted “Instant Family Band.” Helpful Review: “We bought this for my 3-year-old and she loves it! The toys are greatquality and perfect for her hands. We even let her baby brother try the shaker. While the instruments are more sized for kid hands, they're also very useable for adults. My husband and I readily join the family band under our 3-year-old's direction :). I love the variety of instruments and that they are made of wood rather than plastic. This set is my new standard for the price point.” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 10 03 This 3-String Acoustic Guitar For Toddlers
This children's beginner
guitar might look like the type of electric guitar that a rock star would play but it’s actually an acoustic guitar, meaning you won’t need to plug it into any special equipment. The Loog guitar is made of real wood and features a smaller scale and just three strings that make it easier for toddlers to hold and learn to play. With the free Loog Guitar app, your child can access lessons, too. The guitar is available in six playful colors, like cherry red, bubble gum pink, and yellow. Helpful Review: “Was looking for a toddler instrument for the longest while and they all sounded soooo bad - until I saw Loog. Sounds almost like an adult beginner guitar, super nice workmanship. Won't teach your toddler to play by itself but the toddler will enjoy every minute and your ears won't suffer for it. A win!” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 1 04 This Heirloom-Quality Toddler Drum Set
If your little one loves to keep the beat, you need to get them this sturdy, six-in-one wooden
drum kit. In addition to the two classic drums with sticks, there’s also a cymbal and a multi-textured wood tone block, all set on top of a kitten-shaped stand with four stabilizing legs. There’s even a dedicated place on the stand to house the wooden drum sticks so they don’t go missing when not in use. The thoughtful design is definitely heirloom-quality, and as one reviewer noted, “It is the kind of toy that will last to be handed down another generation.” Helpful Review: “Bought this for my toddlers birthday! It was such a hit that even older (even teens) loved it too! Wellmade & brilliant idea! Best gift- go get one!!!” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 6-in-1 set 05 This Toddler Piano With Color-Coded Keys
Melissa & Doug’s Learn-to-Play
piano features 25 color-coded keys designed for tiny hands. Toddlers can learn the basics of piano theory by following the corresponding color-coded and illustrated songbook. It’s made of solid wood and high-quality materials meant to stand up to regular toddler use. The song book comes with favorites like Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for your little maestro to master. Helpful Review: “This piano is perfect for toddlers. They can sit in front of it and although slightly tinny it sounds pretty good for a toy piano. It comes with a book of songs. Each key on the piano is labeled with a color and the name of the key (G,A, etc) so it is easy to learn to play the songs in the book. A good starter piano for kids to learn on.” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 1 06 These Cute Egg Shakers For Little Hands
Maracas are the ultimate introductory percussion instrument for toddlers. They’re easy and comfortable for toddlers to grasp and are basically unbreakable. This set of six
egg shakers is made from natural wood and features cheery, kid-friendly designs painted with colorful, nontoxic paint. Helpful Review: “These things get abused daily by my toddler and they have not broken or anything. They make a very pleasant sound when shaken. Super pretty, too. She plays with them daily and I’m super glad we got them.” Recommended Age: Baby to 36 months+ | Number of Pieces: 6 07 A Colorful Toddler Xylophone Made Of Durable Beechwood
Toddlers will love hearing the sounds the rainbow-colored metal keys make on this kid’s
xylophone. It’s easy to play, made of eco-friendly beechwood and other nontoxic materials, and features two holes on the base for storing the mallets all in one place — it’s the perfect first instrument for toddlers learning coordination and concentration. The included color-coded music cards will have your toddlers playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Mary Had A Little Lamb in no time. Helpful Review: “Perfect for toddler play, easy to carry around and easy to use. The best thing is it is accurately tuned. Well constructed/designed; colorful, accurate and durable. Highly recommend.” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 3 (1 xylophone base, 2 mallets) 08 An Easy-To-Hold Toddler Tambourine
Toddlers will want to jump in the line when they shake this
tambourine around and hear the happy sounds coming from the metal jangles. It’s made of smooth birch wood with gently shaped edges, and at just 6 inches in diameter, it’s the ideal size for little hands to grasp. Helpful Review: “I got this for my daughter, after a music class at the library she loved the tambourine. So I knew I needed to get her one. First, and most importantly, it can take a beating! [...] she smashes, tosses, bangs and generally attempts to destroy EVERYTHING. And this tambourine has absorbed it all.” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 1 09 These Kid’s Bongo Drums With Beautiful Illustrations
Nothing more than a cute pair of toddler hands is needed to get started playing this
bongo drum for kids. The rubber base provides stability while the durable Acousticon shells and suede drum heads make low- and high-pitched tones that will teach kids about musical rhythm. As one reviewer noted, they make a “nice, clear, resounding (and loud!) sound. not unpleasant or tinny or dull.” Beautiful illustrations of children around the world add to the quality craftsmanship of this set. Helpful Review: “This is the perfect first drum for a toddler. It is just the right height to place on the floor for a child to play. It sounds good if played with hands which makes it safer. Sticks can be used when the child is older and more coordinated. I have given this drum as a gift twice with great success each time. The bright colors also make it appealing. It sounds very good. Highly recommended!” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 2 connected drums 10 This 2-Pack Of Wooden Recorders For Beginners
Offered in a colorful pack of two, these
recorders are just the right size for toddlers since they feature a short body and only six holes. Young children can build up their lung stamina while they practice making different sounds and learn the concepts of a wind instrument with these recorders. The cheery paints are eco-friendly and non-toxic, too. Helpful Review: “My toddler loves these flutes! Easy to use and love that different tones can be made by covering the holes.” Recommended Age: 12+ Months | Number of Pieces: 2 11 This Real Violin That’s Meant For Little Kids
While most violins for toddlers are not real but rather toys, this Bunnel
violin is the real deal. Various sizes are offered in the listing that are intended for young children ages 3 to 5. It’s made with solid maple and spruce tonewood with a beautiful satin oil finish and comes with a bow, carrying case, and lifetime warranty. Helpful Review: “We purchased a 1/16 violin for our daughter. Just getting it out of the box! So far everything seems great. For the price we are impressed by the quality and customer service.” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: Multiple (violin, bow, and accessories) 12 This Beginner Blues Harmonica For Taking Anywhere
harmonica takes some serious practice to get the hang of, making this beginner's version with just 10 holes (versus 24 like some professional harmonicas) a great introduction for little kids. The plastic comb features smooth edges and is coated in a bright paint that is both water-based and nontoxic. Measuring just 5.8 inches, it’s the perfect size for taking on the go so your little musician can practice whenever, wherever. Helpful Review: “Very cute harmonica, great product for children and beginners, smooth playing and good grip. The soothing sound and wide spacing between the holes make it easier to play one note at a time. The cute panda makes my kid keep playing it. It comes with an instruction booklet. Well worth buying.” Recommended Age: N/A | Number of Pieces: 1 13 A Portable Electric Drum Set With A Headphone Jack
The best thing about this
electric drum set is that it has a headphone output so your toddler can play until their heart’s content and you won’t hear a thing. The fact that it’s made of a soft silicone material and is foldable (aka portable) is just another reason to love this set. As your tot gets the hang of it, they can incorporate the included foot pedals and practice their hand and foot coordination/independence. It comes with a rechargeable battery that can last up to 8 hours before needing a power up. Helpful Review: “My grandson 'drums' on everything and something had to give before something broke, so I grabbed this. It's a huge hit. It has rhythms he can play along with. He can speed it up or slow it down. It works with the included drum sticks or his hands. He can record and play back his creations. And his mom likes that it can connect to headphones to mute his efforts when she's reading or watching TV.It's highly giftable and perfect for beginning drummers and experienced drummers alike. Just roll it up and take it along anywhere. [...].” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 7 (drum set, 2 foot pedals, 2 drum sticks, USB power cable, cleaning cloth) 14 This Adorable Tiny Accordion For Toddlers
accordion (aka squeeze box) is adorable. Better yet, it’s great for toddlers since it’s lightweight (1.5 pounds) and kid-sized so little fingers can reach the buttons, making it easier for them to change melodies. Choose from three bright colors all made with nontoxic materials. Helpful Review: “I [love] the accordion. My son is 3 years old and this accordion is easy to handle and not to heavy for him.” Recommended Age: 3+ | Number of Pieces: 1 15 This Best-Selling Synthesizer From Japan
Otamatone is a Japanese musical instrument invented that works by sliding your finger up and down and squeezing its cheeks to produce different sounds. It leans more musical toy but it is still a fun teaching tool for young kids who are interested in synthesizer instruments. And it’s super cute, too. Helpful Review: “Great item. Was high on my daughters christmas list this yr. She loves it. Learned to play songs on it right away. Fun toy for anyone. EXCELLENT Quality item. Came across this multicolor unicorn version and was a big hit with my child.” Recommended Age: 6+ Months | Number of Pieces: 1 16 This Keytar For Tots
If your child has expressed interest in playing the guitar and the piano, a
keytar is sort of like having both in one. Keytars are keyboards that you hold like a guitar, supported with a strap around the neck and shoulder. This lightweight keytar is powered by a rechargeable battery so kids can tote it around everywhere they go, and they’re sure to love the included microphone that will let them feel like a rock star. Helpful Review: “This is a nice little keyboard that a child can actually play music on. It is easy to hold and easy to play.” Recommended Age: N/A | Number of Pieces: 6 (keytar, microphone, belt, USB power cable, audio cable, and a UL adapter) 17 This Heart-Shaped Thumb Piano
Never heard of a kalimba? That’s just another name for a thumb piano. This cute heart-shaped
kalimba allows young children to practice piano concepts using just their thumbs to make different sounds with the 17 keys. Stickers are included for color-coding the keys so kids can learn faster. And the plastic is super durable and scratch resistant. Helpful Review: “I bought this for my granddaughter. I have tried it out and the sound is good. Sturdy enough for a young child to explore sounds with.” Recommended Age: N/A | Number of Pieces: 1 Studies referenced:
Hudziak, J. J., Albaugh, M. D., Ducharme, S., Karama, S., Spottswood, M., Crehan, E., Evans, A. C., & Botteron, K. N. (2014). Cortical thickness maturation and duration of music training: Health-promoting activities shape brain development.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 53(11). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2014.06.015