Have you ever found yourself singing a silly song to your child while getting dressed, or playing a game of clapping and counting? If so, then you have already experienced the power of music in family life. Active music-making as a family — beyond just listening to music — has many benefits for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Music can support children’s growth and development, relieve stress, and build family bonds — and that's just to start!
One of our favorite things about incorporating music into everyday life? Music can make everyday activities (like getting dressed, feeding, and transitions) easier and more enjoyable for our little ones — and for us.
We asked our friends at Music Together® for their favorite at-home music activities for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Music Together's classes are available for infants up to age 8, and the grownups who love them.
Have you ever taken a Music Together class? We love them — the classes are just fun, plus it's a great way to bond with a child and meet other families in your community.
Here are five suggestions from Music Together on how to incorporate music at home — some are just for entertainment, while others can really help smooth sometimes difficult situations:
1. Get silly at stressful times of day
Changing the words to a few simple songs can make stressful times of day — like transitions — easier for your family. Music Together calls these “Diaper Bag Songs” because you can pull them out at any moment.
Maybe your child doesn’t want to get dressed, get in the car, or take a bath. Singing songs with your own words that narrate the action can shift the tension and stress wrapped up in these moments in a way language cannot. You’ll see the power of song the minute you sing, “Scrub, scrub, scrub your ears…” instead of yelling, “Hold still!” Music can have a magical effect.
Why take Music Together classes?
Music Together's amazing instructors teach parents how to build music into their family life by singing, dancing, and playing with music alongside their little ones. At Music Together classes, everyone gets involved and learns naturally — without pressure, rules, and judgment. Classes are available for infants up to age 8.
2. Encourage imaginative play at bedtime
Imaginative play ... at bedtime? Yep! Don't discourage it — encourage it! Ask your child to choose a “baby” (favorite doll or stuffed animal) to sing to and rock to sleep as part of bedtime. Once “baby” is snug and asleep, repeat the ritual — with your child!
3. Make music ... literally!
Children will love playing their very own drum! Collect coffee containers, large dairy tubs (yogurt, sour cream, etc.), and oatmeal containers. Clean the containers thoroughly and glue lids on (if possible). Cut construction paper to fit each container and let your child decorate with yarn, glitter, stickers, markers, and other craft items. Once decorated, adults can affix the paper to the drum.
Children can use their homemade drums to play along to any song.
4. Play a game to get the children out the door
Play the freeze game to get your family out the door. March slowly toward the door to the song “This Train,” available for free on the Hello Everybody app (along with seven additional songs!).
Freeze after the first part of the song and give your child a sly look before marching quickly again. By the second time through? Your child will want to lead YOU.
5. Redirect their attention
Not only does your child love to hear you sing, but they also love to hear you sing about THEM. It feels good to be a VIP! When your child hears their name, it’s brain food for focus and attention. Substituting your child’s name in songs where it makes sense can be so powerful in getting or redirecting their attention. Try it! Here's an example: Instead of singing “This little light of mine," try "This little Lauren of mine.”
Music is such a wonderful way for families to connect. So why not give it a try at a Music Together class? Research suggests that actively making music with the grownups they love supports children’s growth across key learning domains, including cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development.
Music Together Babies (ages birth-9 months), Mixed-age (ages birth through 5), and Rhythm Kids classes (ages 4-8) are found in more than 3,000 communities around the world!