Is this your baby’s first or maybe even second Christmas? This is an exciting time for you as a parent – sharing the magic of Christmas with your little one. I remember both of my children’s first Christmases well. I couldn’t wait to rush out and buy them presents. My first born already had so many Fisher-Price plastic toys, gifts from relatives and friends, and she was only 6 months old. She certainly didn’t need any more. But I couldn’t let go of the idea that I had to buy something big and impressive for her first Christmas. My husband was quick to point out “The thing she’s going to be the most interested in at Christmas is the wrapping paper” when I brought home an expensive plastic play table with all the bells and whistles. And of course (annoyingly) he was right. She ripped the paper off with delight, took one look at the table and crawled away. By the time my second baby was born (6 weeks before Christmas) I had the sense to keep things simple. She was too young to even enjoy the wrapping paper. Her gift was a wooden rattle, which received plenty of use during the first year of her life.
The best gift you can give your baby is experience
As Maggie Dent says in her parenting book 9 Things- A Back-to-Basics Guide To Calm, Common-Sense, Connected Parenting Birth- 8 “The consumer world has put enormous pressure on parents to buy toys and ‘stuff’ to make their child stimulated and smart…save your money to buy good food and quality toys like wooden blocks, jigsaw puzzles and Duplo, which allow children to gradually become more and more competent. These toys make look boring to adults however they can be used in different ways by a small child and you can use them for every baby or child you have or one that visits!”
I can really see Maggie’s point. My kids have so many toys and much of the time they drag them out, play with them for about two minutes and then leave them there in a big old mess. It really isn’t about quantity with children’s toys, it’s about quality. I would add another type of quality toy to Maggie’s list and that is musical instruments. And I don’t mean the plastic music toys that make pre-programmed sounds when you press a button. I am talking about basic musical percussion instruments like wooden maracas, accurately tuned xylophones, tambourines and chime bells (perfect for playing along to Christmas songs). Music really is the most wonderful gift that you can give your baby this Christmas. You are not just giving your baby a toy – you are giving them an experience.
Babies develop many skills through musical instruments
Baby-safe musical instruments allow your baby to explore the creation of sound. Playing easy-to-grasp instruments fills baby with an “I can do this” sense of accomplishment. Experimenting with instruments gratifies your child’s curiousity, and inspires her to keep trying to make that sound which encourages two very important developmental skills – independence and perseverance. These instruments also give your baby the opportunity to practice her developing fine motor skills. Grasping instruments between the thumb and index finger (pincer grasp) or with a fisted grasp pattern promotes the skills necessary to pick up finger foods, turn pages in a book and draw with a crayon.
Where to buy the best baby-safe music toys online
I certainly remember how busy life is with a baby so to make things that little bit easier for you I’ve compiled a list of good quality, baby-safe musical instruments that you can buy online. Christmas is just around the corner so if you there isn’t time to have them delivered these are great ideas for first/second birthday gifts.
- Music Bells Set of 8 – This set of music bells, which play 8 different notes (1-C, 2-D, 3-E, 4-F, 5-G, 6-A, 7-B, and 8-C) are colourful and playful. Ideal fun activity whilst learning early stages of musical appreciation. Each bell (140 mm high) varies in colour and is identified by the note labelled on the handle
- Bokido My First Drum – Simple with clean, colourful lines and a little French elegance, this sturdy but lightweight round drum by Boikido is a winner. Wooden with a natural looking drum head. It is 15 cm in diameter and comes with 2 wooden beaters. A superb example from the Boikido range of superbly designed musical toys.
- B. PARUM PUM PUM DRUM – Parum Pum Pum from B. is the ultimate music set for little maestros! The 8 bug-themed instruments in the set include a kids marching drum (which also doubles as a storage case), centipede drumsticks, jingle bell ant, busy bee maraca/clacker, caterpillar tambourine and two shaka-shaka eggs. It’s a fun way to develop music and motor skills.
- Fun Factory Wooden Maracas –A classic musical toy, these wooden maracas are enjoyable to shake and play. They have a great sound, not too loud so great to use from a very young age. They are multi-coloured and are sold individually (not as a pair) Measures: 15cm Long Non toxic paint. $4.95 each from Kids Music Toys excluding shipping.
- Boikido Tambourine Musical Toy – A colourful tambourine to develop early musical skills. Available from Baby Village for $14.39 excluding shipping.
- Seven Bell Jingle Bells – Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way… play along to the song with this beautiful D shaped blue hand bell with seven jingles and a wooden handle.
- Sevi Percussion Set – SEVI is a European brand designed in Italy. SEVI toys are well known for their attention to detail and superior quality. Made of the highest quality wood, it is hand crafted and hand painted using non-toxic paint that is safe for babies & children. This SEVI percussion set includes several instruments available from Kids Music Toys for $49.95 excluding shipping.
Music is the gift that keeps on giving
Of course experimenting and playing with musical instruments offers many direct benefits for your baby. But the opportunity for you to make ‘live’ music with your little one is also extremely valuable. Once the furore of Christmas is over and it is just the two of you on a Monday morning why not sit down together and enjoy a “jam session”. Demonstrate how to shake the maracas, bang the tambourine or play a scale on the xylophone and sing along. If you’re stuck for song and game ideas check out my online program of music activities for babies. This 8 Session Music Program is FREE and includes instrumental activities which promote your baby’s development. Your child deserves music in his or her life. There are so many benefits of music for babies and it truly is one of the best gifts you can give them.