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3 Ways to Do Music with your Baby at Home

I remember the days when I had a toddler and a baby – my children were only 16 months apart and it was certainly a challenge to leave the house. There was no way I could commit to a weekly “music with your baby” class. Negotiating different sleep times, nappy changes and feeds when out and about was just too overwhelming.

Still, I didn’t want my babies to miss out on the fun and engaging benefits of making music. Having studied to be an early childhood teacher I was well aware that music really boosts children’s development. Not only is it an amazing tool for bonding with your little one but it also promotes brain development, language and literacy learning, social, emotional and motor skills.

After doing some research, I gathered a variety of ideas for music activities that were easy to do with my babies at home. Sometimes it would be just the three of us jamming together in our living room, and on other days we’d invite a few friends over to share the experience. There was always plenty of joy and I will never forget those special times.

Here are some activity ideas you might like to try at home with your baby.

Homemade Musical Instruments

child playing with pots and pans drums

Encouraging your baby to play musical instruments helps them to develop their fine motor skills and co-ordination, as well as building their self confidence. Creating rhythms and beats with drums, bells and maracas is the perfect way to introduce your baby to instruments. You can make these from basic, everyday household items. The age-old pot turned upside down with a wooden spoon works wonders for banging along to some recorded music.

For makeshift maracas simply fill small containers (ie. baby food containers, plastic bottles, yogurt pots, baby bottles) with either sand, dried beans, rice, pebbles, pasta or popcorn (unpopped!). Use duct tape or glue to seal the containers and make sure that they are tightly shut! Play some funky music and shake along. If your baby is new to the concept, show them how to shake it. They will feel very proud once they’ve mastered the motion.

Sing and move to nursery rhymes

While traditional nursery rhymes and songs may feel a bit old fashioned, they are highly educational and enhance children’s phonological awareness, which is important for learning to read. You can find plenty of nursery rhymes to learn with your baby online. However, to maximize the benefits it is best if you sing the songs to your baby as well.

Research from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, found that infants are more engaged with songs sung by their mothers than recorded music. It is also valuable to include actions with the songs, and there are a few ways you can do this such as knee bounce rhymes like To Market To Market or Trot Trot to London, action songs like Row Row Row Your Boat or Sing-A-Song of Sixpence, or fingerplays like 5 Little Monkeys and I’m Bring Home a Baby Bumblebee.

Dance to music that you love

Moving to music with your baby can soothe their nervous system, activate their brain, foster their sense of rhythm and increase your bond. Choose music that makes you happy, because if you are enjoying yourself then your baby will too.

If your baby isn’t standing or walking yet, hold them in a position that is comfortable for you both – through their legs facing out, flying on your arms, in a carrier, or on your hip. Just make sure you hold your infant tight and keep movements smooth and safe. If your baby is on their feet, hold their hands gently.

When you are dancing you might like to try freezing to the music briefly to give your baby a chance to process the movement and get ready for the next round. You could also include props like scarves and shakers for extra fun!

So whether you are stuck at home on a rainy day, or you just can’t face leaving the house, it’s easy to entertain, educate and bond with your baby through music.

About the Author:
Sarah Richard-Preston is an early childhood teacher and creator of The Bubble Box – Music Activities for Babies – www.thebubblebox.com.au. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and two children.

This article was featured in Issue 51 of our printed magazine, published April/May 2022.

Photo of author

Regina Gleeson

Regina is a fan of finding 'things to do with kids' in South East Queensland (specifically Brisbane and surrounds). As the Listings Editor of the popular Families Magazine (2013 - 2020), she was instrumental in hunting down and finding all the best things to do for families and sharing that information with her audience. She is extremely community-minded and makes it her personal mission to contribute content that is low cost (or free!) and suitable for families. This thirst for knowledge and desire to experience the things she writes about makes her an irreplaceable member of the team. Now working for blogs as a free-lancer, she contributes around raising two smaller humans and working with many, many more.

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