• Music at Heart

Best Christmas gifts for babies and toddlers

Now it's Advent it already feels like Christmas is fully underway. We have had so many questions in classes about the best gifts to get for babies and toddlers. Our families have particularly asked about finding good quality musical instruments for their child or the more "heirloom" type of toys. So here I have compiled what I think are the best Christmas gifts you can get your baby or toddler, to support both their character and of course, musical development.

Glockenspiels and xylophones

We pride ourselves on only having high-quality instruments in our baby and toddler music classes and so this is the question that we get asked the most: "where can we get a glockenspiel/xylophone like this?"

During our settling time before our morning classes the toddlers (and their parents!) are often drawn in by the beautiful tone of our glockenspiels and xylophones. One comment has been that they have almost an ethereal quality to the sound. Certainly it is true that because we have chosen to have pentatonic instruments for this time, there is no possibility of producing a clashing chord, so that children have the opportunity to create a beautiful sound from the very beginning.

The glockenspiels we recommend are made by Auris and can be bought from Myriad or Knock on Wood. As mentioned before, we believe it best to start with the pentatonic (5 notes in the octave) versions for babies and small children. These stores also sell the pentatonic xylophones that we use as well as a great range of other instruments and resources.

Small percussion and shakers

We love wooden toys and instruments! They are so tactile for children to hold as well as being naturally antibacterial - perfect when they spend a lot of time being explored in children's mouths! Even better if the instruments have been ethically made.

We particularly like instruments where the child can feel and explore exactly how the instrument makes its sound, without the parts being hidden from view. Babipur is a lovely,

family-run company that prides itself on selling ethically-made, sustainable toys. They have nice range of Plan percussion instruments.

Although there are plenty of rainmaker shakers available, this one from Tickety Boo is a particular favourite as it has steel balls which make a lovely pitter-patter sound.

Local to York, Gear4Music stock a wide selection of general shakers or all shapes and styles. We particularly like their soft-handled jingle sticks to add a bit of a festive feel to your musical gift!

Again, Myriad also offer some lovely shakers that we use in our baby and toddler classes.

Books to support musical development

Ultimately, any book that supports musical development will also support other skills, such as phonic recognition, rhyming and numerical awareness. However, here are a few great ones that we love using in our baby and toddler classes:

Tanka Tanka Skunk

Car car truck jeep

Ten little fingers and ten little toes

Ten little aliens (others also in the series)

We're going on a bear hunt

Each peach pear plum

A busy day for birds

Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's dairy

I love my Mummy (Daddy, Grandad and so on)

There are also some beautiful books around that would suit an older child or preschooler as a gift. Some are stories with great rhymes and others are based on songs and pieces of classical music.

I particularly like the Story Orchestra books, which have snippets of music along with the story. They are a great introduction to the themes in the music.

Of course there are many other beautiful books focused on classical music and it is always worth taking a look at them in your local bookshop in person.

Concert or theatre tickets

We have a family tradition of going to see a ballet production in Leeds each year and this will be the first year I take my 6 and 3 year old daughters. They are very much looking forward to it and I love that I am beginning to develop their experiences further.

There are always great shows for children and it can be so much more than just another gift if this is used as a family bonding time. Take a look at what's on offer at local theatres to find something suitable. York Guildhall Orchestra are presenting a special family concert on the 4th January, featuring some popular favourites that all ages can enjoy.

Music at Heart classes

If you or a family member truly want to contribute to your child's musical education, why not book on to our fantastic baby and toddler music classes in York for a term as a gift? Be sure to check availability by enquiring directly. Or, perhaps you might like to support another child to benefit by sponsoring through our Hearts of Gold Bursary Fund, leaving a lasting legacy for children in York. These provide much more sustainable gifts than any material present could.

Whatever you choose, any gift with thought behind it is sure to give a child a wonderful Christmas this year.

Victoria, Music at Heart

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