I've always been a fan of music (I mean, really. Who isn't?), but having a daughter really made music an integral part of our day. Before I've even finished buckling her car seat, my 2-year-old asks me to turn the music on, and every night, my husband and I take turns singing some of her favorite songs to her before she falls asleep. I've been turning to music instead of screen time during the day as she plays, and luckily, I don't have to do a lot of curating — some of the best Spotify playlists for kids are easily accessible and feature songs I wouldn't have even thought of.
It's no secret that music is connected to a child's development. Think of all the pregnant women who put headphones to their swollen bellies, hoping their child hears a strain of Mozart and becomes a genius at 3 years old. Think of all the music classes for babies who can't even hold a rattle yet, and how music instructors continue to clap, sing, and dance to introduce them to music. There have been countless studies done on music and babies, including one from the University of Washington concluding that having music on during play sessions with 9-month-old babies improved their brain's processing of both music and new speech sounds. In short? Music is important. But does it matter what kind of music you listen to? How is it actually making a difference in your child's life?
Michael Saul, an elementary school music teacher in New Jersey, tells Romper via email that while music itself is important, it's more about spending time with your child as you listen. "There is scientific evidence suggesting that music does improve cognitive function and learning in infants, as well as foster experiences for bonding between children and their parents," Saul says. "As a music educator I fully agree with this and can honestly say, 'Yes, music is good for your child. Period.' At the moment, we are living in a great time of technology where it seems like we just want the quickest, easiest fix for literally everything. This is where I have to say that although music is great for your child, maybe just sitting in a room listening to Mozart isn't the actual answer to ensure they become a genius."
Saul goes on to suggest that it's not really the type of music you're listening to that's most important, it's the time you actively spend interacting with your kid that helps. "The greatest thing you can do for your child and their development is to just spend time with them. Not just in the same room with them, but actually with them, interacting and engaging. Can music help with this? Of course, but it doesn't have to be a playlist approved by pediatricians," he says.
Saul also notes that there is a huge connection between music and memory, as shown in many recent documentaries on music and its affect on people with Alzheimer's. He suggests that simply playing music you enjoy and spending time singing to your child can have a big impact on their future. Think of all the big events in your life like birthdays, weddings, even funerals — they all have music attached. Saul goes on further to explain that nearly every song or rhyme you learned as a child taught you some important formula or fact, and you probably still sing it to yourself as an adult. "There is a rhythmic component to that, linking our memory to music," Saul says. So making memories with your kids? They can happen with or without music, but music may just make them a little more memorable.
"While I can't prescribe any specific music for parents to look for, I can suggest that you listen to what you love, and your child will not only enjoy it, but they will enjoy getting to spend time with you while you're smiling, dancing, and singing, as opposed to that 2 a.m. feeding when you just want them to finish that bottle and go back to sleep," Saul says. "Use music as a way to engage your child in games and activities to build their coordination, sportsmanship, and in many cases, basic counting skills. Many of the lessons I do in my classes consist of simple games set to folk songs — haven't we all heard that kids learn best through playing? The most important thing is that you, the parent, are interacting with your child. Don't think that you can lay them in a Pack 'n Play with your iPad nearby playing Pitbull's baby enhancing Spotify playlist and that's going to make them a better person."
So ready to get started? Whether you lean towards the Hamilton soundtrack, country music, or even Pitbull, you can make a playlist that works for you and your family. You can download favorites from iTunes to create your own playlists or try out Pandora to curate your own perfect station. If you're a Spotify fan, you're in luck — there are plenty of kid playlists already put together for both you and your family to enjoy, including these favorites. Think of the memories. (Especially if you're busting out your favorite dance moves.)
Diaper Time by Too Small To Fail
Looking for a playlist that's more than just music? The Diaper Time playlist from Romper partner Too Small to Fail might be just what you need to make those parenting tasks that often feel tedious a little bit better. The playlist includes prompts from country star Martina McBride that will encourage you to read, sing, dance, and talk to your baby through something as simple as a diaper change. In between the prompts are some great songs for both you and baby, including hits from Ziggy Marley, Jack Johnson, and Sister Sledge. The entire point of the playlist? To remind you that those moments of singing, dancing, and interacting can happen at anytime — you don't have to wait until you have an hour free. A diaper change set to music is a perfect way to bond with your little one.
Best In Show by Fatherly
You just can't go wrong with a good show tune, and if there's anything Disney has taught the world, it's that kids love to belt them OUT, too. But you don't have to put on your Elsa wig and resign yourself to Frozen tunes with the Best In Show playlist from Fatherly. Included are songs from your own childhood (meaning the best songs ever) like favorites from The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, and Toy Story. A road trip always begs for a show tune, but playing around the house or going for a walk outside are the perfect ways to blast this playlist.
Adult Friendly Playlist For Kids & Babies by Charlotte Mandrier
You know, more things for children should come with an "adult friendly" sticker, and music especially. Let's be honest, there are only so many kid tunes an adult brain can take before actually, fully losing it. If you're in desperate need of music written with someone over 4 in mind, check out the Adult Friendly Playlist for Kids and Babies by Charlotte Mandrier. Featuring artists like Ingrid Michaelson, Zero 7, and Vampire Weekend, it's a chill, happy playlist that won't make you want to stick Q-tips in your ears. Oh, and your kids will love it, too.
KIDZ BOP Ultimate Toddler Playlist by Kidz Bop Kids
Everyone's wary of popular music, especially if you have small children that love to repeat everything. (I listened to way too much Flo Rida with my kid, OK? Learn from my mistakes.) But the KIDZ Bop Ultimate Toddler Playlist by Kidz Bop Kids takes some of the current hits and turns them into kid-friendly tunes. The playlist also includes some Disney songs as well as Sesame Street favorites. Turn this playlist on instead of the TV in the afternoons and let your kids get some energy out dancing to their favorite songs.
Children's Songs - The Best Playlist Ever by True North Records
Know your kid likes pretty generic children's music? Children's Songs - The Best Playlist Ever by True North Records is right up their alley. With songs like "Baby Beluga" and tunes from Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer, your kid will happily bounce around and sing you their favorites.
Physical Education Music For Kids by Kevin Lott
For music to get you and your kid pumped up, try the Physical Education Music for Kids playlist by Kevin Lott. There are some great anthems on here, including "Firework" by Katy Perry and some favorites from The Jackson 5. Your kid will get moving as soon as the music starts, and both of you can enjoy some quality active time.
Hits For Kids ('90s) by Anne Martha Kjønnø
Oh yes. For the ultimate anthem playlist to remind your babies what good music actually sounds like (now get off my lawn, whippersnappers), enjoy the Hits for Kids ('90s) playlist by Anne Martha Kjønnø. Trust me — this one is magic. Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and even some squeaky clean Aaron Carter to round it out.
Mindfulness For Kids by Laura Pitcon
Nothing beats a few minutes alone to take some deep breaths and recharge your batteries. Adults know how important it is, but it can be beneficial to kids, too. The Mindfulness for Kids playlist by Laura Pitcon features lots of instrumental music meant to put you in a meditative mind or simply help you relax. Perfect for those mom and baby moments throughout the day that get a little hectic.
Folk For Kids by Spotify
Oh hi, if you want those perfect Instagram shots of all of you in your flannel eating at the giant hand-carved wooden table your partner made, please gather around for the Folk for Kids playlist by Spotify. OK — you don't have to go all Instagram to enjoy these tunes, but they will put you in a folksy campfire mindset. I love all of them for my own listening, so sharing this sweet playlist with hits from favorites like Bob Marley, Pete Seeger, and Peter, Paul and Mary is a must.
We Love Elmo! by Spotify
Have an Elmo fan in your house? Me too. The We Love Elmo! playlist by Spotify may not always be your favorite, but you can't deny how much a kid loves Sesame Street, especially that little red monster. With favorites from the show included on this playlist, your kid will sing about being kind, using their imagination, and learning to count. (Plus, Elmo's voice is pretty cute, as are the voices of the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.)
Your Daily Routine by Spotify
And for the ultimate all day kid playlist — Your Daily Routine by Spotify. With songs from kid favorites like Yo Gabba Gabba! and Doc McStuffins, the playlist covers everything from waking up to using the potty to taking a nap and learning self control. Plus, the music's catchy.