Young children are naturally drawn to music. Singing and dancing seem to be natural to little ones and toddlers participate willingly and without inhibition in music and movement activities. But how can parents help keep children interested in music over time? Here's what you need to know about the best music for toddlers and why are songs more appealing than others.

“What makes a really great toddler song is a tune that involves movement, puts a prop in a child's hand, or appeals to their sense of humor,” says Sheila Fitzgerald, owner of the children's music program, Crocodile Rock. “Young children love a song with a strong beat, and they are working on their listening skills, following directions, large motor skills, spatial awareness, and more while they enjoying the rhythm and having fun. Songs about animals, dinosaurs, transportation, and body parts are all favorite song topics of this age group.”

Singable songs

Choose songs that are easy for little ones to learn.
  • Repetitive phrases help children chime in each time they hear the familiar words and tune.
  • Songs with a slow to medium pace are easier for tots to sing with. If the song is too fast, it might be difficult for him to keep up.
  • Find songs with simple vocabulary and a small number of words.

Make them move

Songs that involve movement are big hits with little musicians.

  • Children’s favorites such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Where is Thumbkin?” are all great for toddlers.
  • Find songs that help little ones learn the parts of their bodies such as “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes” and “The Hokey Pokey”.
  • Any song that involves jumping, twirling, crawling, shaking, running and dancing are great ways to work on gross motor skills and help get the wiggles out!

Silly songs

Find some songs that will give you both a belly laugh and your toddler is sure to be begging to sing them again and again.

  • Songs that start slow and go faster and faster are big hits with toddlers. You can use this technique with any song your child likes to sing (such as Greg and Steve’s “Chicken Dance”).
  • Songs that have animals doing silly things are lots of fun to sing (such as Raffi’s “Down by the Bay”).
  • Songs that have him moving like an animal are perfect for participation (such as Hap Palmer’s “Sammy”).

Musical manuscripts

Many popular children’s songs have been made into books. Ask your librarian for suggestions of favorite children’s books based on songs.

  • Children will love seeing pictures of the songs they love to sing.
  • Singing along with books will not only be fun, but will help children stay focused and build attention span.
  • Children may pick up some early literacy skills such as an understanding that print goes from left to right (running your finger under the words as you sing will help with this) and that pictures go along with the written words.

Toddler tunes

Some popular children’s artists that have great songs for toddlers are listed below. Check some CDs out at the library and purchase your own copy of the ones your child loves.

  • Greg and Steve
  • Laurie Berkner
  • Hap Palmer
  • Raffi
  • Jim Gill
  • Parachute Express
  • Imagination Workshop
  • Cathy (Fink) and Marcy (Marxer)

While there are lots of children’s artists who have written great songs for children, there are also many old fashioned favorites that children have loved for generations. You don’t need to purchase anything to bring music into your child’s life.

Whether you are in the car, around the house or on a walk in your neighborhood, music is always easy to squeeze into your daily routine. Just clear your throat and sing some favorites from your childhood! (If you can’t remember the words or melodies for your favorite children’s songs, visit for help.)