13 Music Activities For One Year Olds

Starting Music Lessons with a 1 Year Old: 13 Music Activities for Babies

Mr. Rob

The first few years of life are critically important in so many ways. From secure attachments to early talents, interests and skills, the years prior to elementary school have a profound impact on the rest of our life.

Which is why for all of our young musicians out there, today we’re focusing on 13 activities for babies and 1 year olds!! This might seem young, but as the Gordon institute puts it:

The early years of life are crucial for establishing a foundation for lifelong music development. A child’s musical experiences from birth to age five have a particularly profound impact on the extent to which she will be able to understand, appreciate, and achieve in music as an adult.

– The Gordon Institute for Musical Learning

So get ready to shake, sing, groove and play with 13 fun activities for babies and 1 year olds!

1. Shake, shake, shake

Shakers 1

Babies love to shake anything that makes noise! So, why not create some musical shakers? They are super easy to make and will entertain your little one for quite awhile!

Check out these simple steps from The Craft Train or just fill a small container/bottle with some rice or beans and then secure the lid with super glue or tape. Try filling other containers with different objects to show the difference in sound. You can also attach ribbons to your shakers!

2. Instrument Petting Zoo

Gather some rhythm band instruments and lay them out for your little one to hear all the different sounds! Allow them to play on their own and then let them listen as you play. Here are instruments we recommend!

3. Music and Movement

Put on some fun children’s music and turn it up! Babies love to dance! Whether they are dancing on their feet or bumping on their bottoms, babies know how to feel the music. Try singing and dancing to one of our most popular songs, The Tooty Ta, which is a sure fire way to get your child dancing! 

YouTube video

One of my favorite children’s artists is Raffi because his songs are fun, silly, and energetic! Throw in some shakers and ribbons for even more fun!

4. Sing to your Child

Mom With Long Red Hair Plays With Little Boy On Bed

Singing to your child is so easy and fun! Find some songs that have hand motions and get your baby involved. They might not be able to sing the words just yet, but they definitely can learn some hand motions! These are great finger play songs from Super Simple Songs.

5. Pot and Pan Drumming

Pots And Pans Sensory 20160302 4425 800x533 1

If you need something for baby to do while you’re trying to prepare dinner, pull out some pots and pans for them to bang on! Give them a wooden spoon, and they’ll be all set for their very first percussion solo!

Want to know how it really goes down? Check out Jamie’s story of trying this out with her three boys!

6. Play High C and Low C

Put the high C bell and the low C bell in front of your baby. Let them play with both bells so they can hear the difference between high and low!

7. High Information Music

Exposing babies to high information music, both during pregnancy and up until age ~, has been shown to have some profound benefits when it comes to developing musical skills like perfect pitch.

What is high information music? Generally, it’s music that contains all of the musical notes, more complex harmony & less predictable rhythmic patterns. If pop music is ear candy, high information music is ear protein.

At some level, it’s similar to the somewhat controversial idea of the Mozart effect and the idea that playing babies classical music is beneficial for their brains. Large claims of musical fluency aside, it’s clear that exposing kids to more complex music (like free jazz, atonal music, classical/romantic music) at an early age wil increase their sense for what is possible with music.

This idea was coined by the folks at nuryl.com, which recently announced that it would be closing. Despite their closing, the concept is sound. From their website:

What is High Information Music?
High Information Music™ is a unique type of complex, unpredictable, and highly melodic music designed to simultaneously activate multiple regions of your baby’s brain during a critical learning period, from the fifth month of pregnancy to your baby’s second birthday. During this time, your baby’s brain is rapidly growing, nerve cells are reaching out and making billions of new connections (over 700 new connections per second in the first year alone!); connections that are stimulated will stick around while under-stimulated connections are lost, never to be formed again. And it is all based on experience. Consider the complex process of language and fluency. Your baby comes into this world open and ready to learn the sounds of any language. But within only 6 to 8 months they begin to focus solely on the sounds of their native language, laying a foundation of neural networks, establishing fluency. Their brains know it. Just like language, becoming musically fluent takes repetition, internalization, decoding and recall to learn. High Information Music™ uses thousands of combinations of complex intervals, harmonies and motifs to truly teach a baby native fluency. The concept of our music immersion curriculum is to stimulate and strengthen these same neural connections associated with other cognitive abilities and possibly supercharge your baby’s early brain development. Although music is the catalyst, we have witnessed the benefits in enhanced attention span, improved memory, stronger reasoning, and a greater predisposition to learn languages.

8. Playtime Prodigies 

Playtime Prodigies does not require an instrument and is largely focused on fun movement games, introductory rhythm songs & easy hand-signs.

This digital course contains 34 fun songs for toddlers and younger learners & easy songs that focus on tapping, clapping, and hand-signing along!

Enroll in our streaming app Prodigies, to get access to Playtime Prodigies, plus over 800+ more music lessons & PDF Downloads!

9. Sing Along with Books

Reading to your baby so is important, but singing is too! And there are so many children’s books that you can sing to your baby. Check out My First Songbook to get started singing colorful and easy-to-read music with lyrics, notation, and hand-signs for 14 beloved kids songs!

10. Deskbells for Daily Routines

Set up a C bell at your diaper changing station and play that bell whenever you have to do a diaper change. Place a D bell at mealtime and play it during lunch (though you may want to play it for them to avoid a “baby food covered” bell)! Put an E bell on their play mat and have them play it during playtime.

Since there are 8 bells, you could set them up in 8 different locations. Or, you could set all of them up together on your baby’s play mat instead. The idea is to start getting those pitches into their minds through everyday play! Looking for Deskbells, grab your set here! 

11. Mommy and Me Music Class

Nursery Children Playing With Musical Instruments Classroom

Check your area for some local Mommy and Me music classes! Libraries usually offer free music classes once a week. Also, there may be a Gymboree program in your area which is great for music and movement!

12. DIY Dance Rings


You can easily make some dance rings by using shower curtain hooks and ribbons! Check out these rainbow dancing rings at Buggy and Buddy!

13. Jingle Bell Bracelets and Anklets

Screen Shot 2013 12 06 At 12.15.49 Pm

These ankle bells from Buggy and Buddy are the perfect music activity for your little one! Just grab a pipe cleaner and attach some jingle bells! Wrap it around their ankle or wrist and let them jingle, jingle, jingle! Just be sure to stay close as those bells are small and round!

Thanks for checking out this list of ideas! We hope you have a very musical summer, and as always, happy musicing!