musical instruments for babies and kids

Top 20 Unique Musical Instruments for Babies and Kids

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Where to start

Doesn’t it seem like every single toy company has their own line of musical instruments geared towards babies OR toddlers OR kids these days? As if babies and toddlers and kids can’t play the same instruments. It’s also pretty rare, in my opinion, to find a toy company that produces high quality musical instruments.

However, fear not, my friend! I’ve combed through the vast world of musical instruments to bring you my favorite, durable, pleasing to the ear, musical instruments for kids and babies. Plus, I also chose instruments that are high quality, budget friendly and made of natural materials whenever possible. 

First, we’ll learn about rhythmic instruments, followed by pitched instruments. And while we’re at it, I’ll throw in various ideas on how to play each instrument, too!

2 Types of musical instruments

Rhythmic instruments

First let’s discuss rhythmic instruments. Rhythmic instruments, also called un-pitched instruments, essentially produce only one pitch (as opposed to multiple pitches like a piano).

These are timeless and classic choices for kids of any age, including babies. All that’s required are some tapping and shaking skills, and you’ll be off and running making music in no time. Under each picture below, I’ve also listed some creative options on how to play the instrument.

Floor Drum

Tap on drum head with provided mallet stick; also tap on drum head with bare hands; use mallet to tap on side of drum or top edge; tap back of fingernails on drum head to make clicking sound. Babies and toddlers love drums!


Hold one and shake; roll it on floor; hold one in each hand and shake; tap (gently) on floor or hand or leg; pretend to stir soup with maraca. Another blockbuster hit for babies and toddlers.


Hold up with one hand and tap on the top with the other; or hold in one hand and shake; tap on the top with one finger.


Use provided stick to scrape along middle ridges; or use stick to tap on different parts; slide back of fingernails along ridges.

Rain Stick

Slowly tilt and listen for rain sounds; quickly tip over and listen for heavy rain sound. Very captivating sounds.

Frog Rasp

Use provided stick to slide along back ridges of frog; slide up or slide down the back; use stick to tap on frog; notice different pitch on different sized frogs (big frog has lower, deeper pitch).

Seed Pod Rattle

Hold handle and shake; tap (gently) onto palm or leg or arm or head!

Top 20 musical instruments for babies, toddlers and beyond

Rhythm Sticks (6")

Tap sticks together at various tempo (speeds); scrape sticks together; tap on carpet vs hard floor; tap sticks in the letter "T" or "L"; tap sticks
end to end.

Ocean Drum

Ready to mesmerize your baby or toddler? Tilt drum around and watch beads roll; tilt slow vs fast; shake drum (gently); hold up and tap on drumhead with bare hand; swirl drum horizontally vs vertically.


Hold handle and slide beads around with other hand; hold handle with beads on bottom and shake up and down.

Pitched instruments

Next up, we’ll learn about pitched instruments. Pitches instruments are different from rhythmic instruments for the fact that they’re able to produce many different pitches, or tones. (Remember the piano I mentioned earlier? Yep, that’s a pitched instrument because every key on the piano has a unique pitch, or frequency). These instruments require a little more technique, but I’ll show you some ways to make them accessible, even for babies and toddlers.

musical instruments for babies and kids

Stir Xylophone

Hold handle and use provided mallet to stir around the inside; stir around the outside; tap on each bar and notice the different pitches of each bar.


Grip with 2 hands and blow into mouth hole; try covering different holes with fingers to produce different pitches (toddlers can just blow without covering any holes and it'll still sound good, I promise).


Use provided mallets and tap on different metal bars; each bar should sound a different pitch; tap with one mallet or both; tap various rhythms; try to play a song by ear. Another fave musical instrument for babies and toddlers.

Train Whistle

Hold and blow into holes; try to cover all 4 holes at once and blow; try to blow into one hole at a time; can you hear the train coming?

steel tongue drum musical instrument for babies and kids

Steel Tongue Drum

Use provided rubber mallets to tap on different 'tongues' on top of drum; try one mallet or two; transport yourself to an island getaway with these soothing sounds (there's no such thing as a "wrong note" with this). My personal favorite musical instrument for babies and toddlers.

Kalimba (Thumb Piano)

Grasp with two hands on either side and use thumbs to play the keys; try to pluck out a simple melody like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". Very relaxing tones.


As the name suggests, you (gently) whack these tubes on the ground or on your palm; notice the difference in pitch between the smallest tube and the largest; try tapping two tubes together (I like using 'C' and 'G').


Believe it or not, I do suggest a ukulele even for babies and toddlers; the adult can hold the uke flat on their lap while baby/toddler 'strums' along strings (aka slaps their hand around a bit); can also tap gently on the backside; try to pluck one string at a time.

musical instruments for babies and kids


Adult holds instrument and child blows into small mouthpiece while pressing keys (I don't recommend using the tube for littles as it's very hard to clean). Note, This instrument only works if you blow and press at the same time.


One of my most favorite musical instruments for babies and toddlers! Hold with two hands on the edges, blow into small holes - no such thing as a wrong note here. Perfect instrument for busy-bee toddlers.

Musical Instruments Summary

And there you have it, my top 20 unique, musical instruments for kids! We covered rhythmic instruments (also known as un-pitched instruments), as well as, pitched instruments (like the piano). I always recommend you offer some of each type of instrument for your kid to play. This will allow them the opportunity to begin to notice the differences and similarities, even if they can’t verbalize their findings, yet.

Wondering how to incorporate these instruments into your home? Create your own music zone! Check out our ultimate guide to creating your own music studio for young kids, right here! You’ll learn how to choose the perfect spot, what to include, how to keep the music station fresh and well loved for the long term, plus so much more.

Please Note

Although these are durable and high-quality musical instruments for kids, they still aren’t indestructible. Always encourage your child to use care and gentle hands whenever they handle any instrument, to make sure it stays in good shape for as long as possible.

Now, I'd love to hear from you!

Leave a comment below and tell us which instrument you’d like to try next. 

Which one might make an appearance at your next family jam session?

P.S. Looking to purchase these instruments?

Head on over here for direct links to purchase any of the instruments mentioned in this post. Harmony Lodge Music may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to purchase through these links. Thanks for the support!

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4 thoughts on “Top 20 Unique Musical Instruments for Babies and Kids”

  1. The Steel Tongue Drum! My one year old son has played instruments like this and no matter what notes he hits, it sounds amazing.

  2. I love the idea of creating a music zone for my little one! This article is a great resource for introducing them to the world of music. Thanks for the suggestions!

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