So here it – the 5 best musical toys for babies of January 2017. Each of these have been tried and tested by J, who is 5 months old. These are great if you have any kiddie’s birthdays coming up, or to aid the development of your own little ones.
1. Fisher-Price – My First Guitar
Suitable for: 3 months +
This is a great little instrument. It plays several short tunes when the strings are pressed, or when it is moved. There is a rattle with reflective material, so your baby can spot their reflection. It also has a rolling bass, so that littler ones can swat at it to make it move, even if they are unable to get a good hold on it. This toy is especially good for young babies, because it is activated by movement, rather than by pressing specific buttons. Therefore, if their coordination is not quite there yet, they can still enjoy making the sounds without too much trouble.
2. Little Tikes Ocean Explorer Crawl ‘n’ Pop! Turtle
Suitable for 6 months +
This turtle is brilliant fun! You fit the four shapes into the moulds on his back, press the button on top and watch him crawl away. It plays a short tune before coming to a stop and ‘popping’ the shapes out from its back. The music is used to build anticipation before the ‘popping’, and J has quickly learnt what will happen when it stops (he gets very excited at that point!)
The recommended age is 6 months +, as it is difficult for babies who are not yet mobile to play with it. Despite being a turtle, it actually moves really quickly. I imagine it will provide lots of entertainment for J when he is able to crawl after it himself, but for now he enjoys pressing the button and watching it go!
3. Slumber Buddies
Suitable for: From birth
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly a toy… However, it has been so effective in J’s bedroom that I thought it was definitely worth a mention. He has the Eddie the Elephant Slumber Buddy – a soft elephant with a hard shell, which reflects coloured starts on the wall/ceiling, while playing music. There are 3 different time settings: 15 mins, 30 mins, and 45 mins. You also have the option of keeping the stars a fixed colour, or having them gently moving from one to another. There are 3 different choices of tune, plus a water sound, and a heartbeat sound, to lull your baby to sleep.
Until recently, J has used a mobile above his cot to help him to drift off. Unfortunately, in the past few weeks he has begun to find it overstimulating. He would spend ages talking to the animals and kicking about, before getting very overtired and upset. Since January 2017, the Slumber Buddy has been a brilliant alternative. It is gentle and soothing, without being too bright or stimulating. It has helped him get off to sleep easily, without any additional rocking or cuddling!
4. Baby Band Musical Instrument Gift Set
Suitable for: 3 months +
At first glance, these look like every other rattles on the market. However, it is their teeny-tiny handles that make them so perfect for young babies. These were one of the first things that J was able to confidently hold on to, due to the thin plastic. It is even thinner than a little finger, which is the other thing babies like to cling on to. These rattles are bright and interesting, and make a captivating noise – they are small enough to fit in my handbag for those moments when a distraction is needed!
5. Hamley’s Drum Kit Playmat
Suitable for: 3 years+
Ok, so this is recommended for children much older than J! It is a playmat with a drum kit featured on it, which bangs and crashes as you hit each of the drums and cymbals with the plastic sticks provided. It has a couple of tunes installed, which you can play along with, if you choose. Alternatively, you can plug your own iPod/phone into it, to play music from there. There is also a headset included, should you wish to turn this activity into a karaoke session!
The higher age recommendation is due to the wires provided for headphones, plus the enhanced coordination skills needed to accurately hit each of the drums in the correct place. However, with Luke being a drummer, we couldn’t resist giving J a little taste…! He has had a great time practising his tummy time on the mat (with lots of supervision). Every time he shuffles or rolls over, he sets off a lot of exciting noises, encouraging him to move some more! After just a few minutes of watching us hitting the mat with the sticks, he also joined in to do the same. Who cares if what he is going is correct or musical? He is learning lots about the reaction that his movements generate.