If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
“Please, please buy the noisiest toy for my child,” said no parent ever — unless, of course, that musically-inclined tot is destined to be the next Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart or anyone in between. Some of the best music gifts for kids don’t have to come in the form of bright plastic instruments or (worse) a singing baby shark toy with no off button. Whether you’re shopping for pint-sized producers or elementary-aged audiophiles, there are plenty of cool toys for the youngest music lovers in your life.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest music toys for kids of all ages — check out our top picks below.
1. Blipblox Toy Synthesizer
We wouldn’t blame you for stealing a toy from a 3-year-old, especially if it’s this fully-functional synthesizer by San Francisco-based Blipblox. (French composer Jean-Michel Jarre, Canadian musician Tyler Armes, and Dani Thorne are fans.) Created by an electrical engineer, the device allows kids (and grown-ups) to create their own beats with the pull of a lever or push of a button. It’s loaded with over 300 melodies, 12 oscillator modulation schemes, a low pass filter, two envelope generators, a built-in drum machine, and more features.
We love that you don’t need to download an app to play. If your pint-sized hitmaker wants to take it to the next level, the synth’s MIDI input lets you hook the synth up to a keyboard, drum machine, or digital audio workstation (DAW) for recording your tot’s original tunes. On top of all of that, kids will love that the colorful LED lights make a fun synchronized light show.
Got a budding after-hours DJ? The company will soon begin shipping its After Dark version ($199) that’s packed with even more music-making features in December.
2. FAO Schwarz Toy Piano Dance Mat
Crawlers, toddlers, and kids at heart can pound the ivories with their feet on FAO Schwarz’s iconic piano dance mat. It measures 101 inches long by 29 inches wide, and is just shy of two octaves — so players can at the very least toe-tap to “Heart and Soul.” This floor keyboard can record songs, too.
3. Lullabye Renditions of Wu-Tang Clan by Rockabye Baby!
Who says Wu-Tang Clan isn’t for the babies? GZA, RZA, Ghostface Killah, and the rest of the hip hop crew get the lullaby treatment in Rockabye Baby’s 12-track album featuring instrumental renditions of the iconic group’s hits.
4. Yoto Player
Give the gift of screen-free entertainment with Yoto’s Bluetooth-friendly audio player. Designed for ages 3 to 8, the device connects to your WiFi and uses content cards that play best-selling books (think the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and classics by Roald Dahl), music, meditations, activities, and more — there’s even a story written and recorded by grandpa Sir Paul McCartney. You can also stream from Yoto’s app (though a phone isn’t required to play), and kiddos can use blank cards to record and play their own songs and stories.
Okay, so it’s not entirely screen-less: the cute speaker cube’s face features charming pixel graphics that are easy on the eyes, and the unit also doubles as a customizable clock and sleep trainer.
5. Musical Tap Bench with Removable Xylophone
Kids ages 1 to 4 can work on their hand-eye coordination and musical chops with this non-toxic wooden set by Hape. Available from cool online toy shop Adventuretown, the instrument includes a removable xylophone that plays a melody as kids tap the colorful balls into the bench.
6. Loog Pro VI Acoustic Guitar
Don’t let the Loog guitar’s baby size fool you: this kid-friendly instrument delivers the same vibrant sound as its full-sized counterparts. Available in three-, four-, and six-string options to suit a range of ages (3+, 8+, and 12+), the guitar includes chord flashcards and a free app that’s equipped with a tuner, a songbook with tunes by artists like the Beatles and Taylor Swift, and an augmented reality feature for easy learning.
Newbies can also attend Loog’s free 30-minute live classes on Zoom. Multiple colors and accessories (including straps, bags, and cases) are available. The company is also taking pre-orders for its electric guitar ($99+), which has a built-in amp and speaker.
7. Fisher-Price Music Box Record Player
Unless you’re shopping for the world’s most careful tot, we wouldn’t trust them to handle our prized vinyl either. Until they can leave wax unscratched, Fisher-Price’s retro record player — the same design that was originally released in 1971, then known as the Change-A-Record Music Box — can help foster analog devotion among future audiophiles. The set includes five records with two songs per side, and kids can stow away the accessories conveniently inside the player.
8. Schoenhut Five-Piece Drum Set
Everything’s cuter in pint-sized form, including drum sets. This one by heritage kids instrument makers Schoenhut produces the same loud beats as big sets (much to parents’ and neighbors’ dismay) and boasts an eight-inch mounted tom drum, a 10-inch snare drum, a 16-inch bass drum and pedal, an adjustable foam set, a tuning key, and drumsticks.
9. VTech Kidi Star Karaoke Machine
Investing in a pro-grade karaoke machine might not be the best present for clumsy little mic droppers — this flamingo-like singing station by VTech might a more entertaining option for budding crooners. Sync it with a smartphone or plug in an MP3 player to play music, then use the “magic” mode to turn down the main vocals in songs.
The machine also lets singers record themselves for up to five minutes. It also comes with six built-in games, and the 180-degree disco lights turn any room into a kids-friendly rave.
10. JLab JBuddies Studio Bluetooth Over-Ear Kids Headphones
When youngsters wanna play it loud, these over-ear Bluetooth headphones will protect their music-loving eardrums. These comfy cans feature eco leather cushions and a padded headband, and we like that the built-in volume regulators keeps the audio within a safe range of under 85 decibels.
Wandering listeners can stray as far as 30 feet away from their device, and they’ll get about 13 hours of wireless playtime. We like that the volume and playback controls are located conveniently on the left earcup, and that the headphones also have a built-in microphone for phone calls.
11. Lyric Pop Children’s Books
Our editors are big fans of Akashic Books’ LyricPop series – a collection of children’s books that feature song lyrics by renowned songwriters reimagined as illustrated picture books. Introduce your kids to classics like the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” or Aretha Franklin’s ” Respect” (which is like a built-in spelling lesson for your little ones). Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” meantime, is re-imagined as an uplifting message for kids to work hard and keep their heads held high.
These books are officially licensed by their musician counterparts, and yes, any questionable lyrics are either removed or changed. “The idea of giving parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers a way to connect kids with music early on through picture books is exciting,” says Akashic Books publisher Johnny Temple. “And when adults sing the lyrics as they read the books, it becomes a multimedia experience, introducing books and music at the same time.”
12. The Beatles Magna-Tiles
For those who dream of living in a yellow submarine, CreateOn’s new Beatles Magna-Tiles let kids of all ages build a colorful world inspired by the Fab Four’s iconic songs. This 53-piece set includes double-sided magnetic tiles featuring vibrant graphics that snap together to create the famed underwater vehicle as well as Abbey Road, the Magical Mystery Tour Bus, a Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds kaleidoscope, a record player, and more.