One of the great things about being a mom is being able to join your child in some of the things that bring them such great joy. Like blowing bubbles outside. Or building sandcastles at the beach. Or dancing and singing along to one of the many fun songs for toddlers and kids. The only problem with that last one, though, is that sometimes our kids can get too attached to one particular song, and then it starts running through your head over... and over... and over again.
I bet you even know which song I'm referring to, because it just popped into your head this minute, right? Yep, it's the ridiculously popular "Baby Shark." The super-catchy tune has been around for a year and is still going strong, both in the fast original Pinkfong version, which sounds like it belongs in a hip downtown toddler club, or the slower version from Super Simple Songs that includes a cute animation. It's even inspired a #BabySharkChallenge dance trend that began in Indonesia and made its way over to this side of the globe, per Forbes.
But if you're looking for an alternative to the endless rounds of "Baby shark, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo doo-doo-doo," there's a huge variety to choose from. Some are traditional favorites, while others are newer; there are even some grown-up pop songs in there that kids can enjoy listening to as well.
Get out your Bluetooth or tablet, load up these tunes, and get ready to leave the doo-doo-doo-doo-doo behind as you and your kids hit the dance floor. (Or the family room floor. Whichever works.)
1. Finger Family (Daddy Finger)
Disregard the slightly off-putting title and get your fingers wiggling. This updated version of "Where Is Thumbkin?" is bouncy and toddler-approved. It's also a great way to help your toddler with motor skills: moving one finger at a time is harder than it sounds.
2. Boom Chicka Boom
Kid-vid star Jack Hartmann leads listeners through a rhythmic call-and-repeat game ("I say a-boom chicka-rocka, chicka-rocka chicka-boom!") that's fun for all. There are even special versions for Easter, Valentine's Day, and other holidays. If you want to skip the intro, the song actually starts at the 35 second mark.
3. The Freeze Dance
Games and songs like Simon Says and "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" help hone preschoolers' coordination and listening skills at the same time. My students love skipping, twirling, and hopping to this tune, and some of them get the timing down so well that they plant themselves in a crazy pose just in time for the announcer to call "FREEZE!"
4. We're Going On A Lion Hunt
Another popular Kiboomers song lets kids echo the lyrics while acting out the familiar story: passing through tall grass, a deep river, gooey mud, and a dark cave on the way to search for a lion. But once they reach their goal, the explorers lose their nerve and have to retrace their steps to get safely home.
5. The Duck Song
My own kids are past toddler age, but they still get a laugh out of this silly song-story about a duck who torments a lemonade entrepreneur with his persistent request. The bridge ("Then he waddled away, waddle-waddle/Then he waddled away, waddle-waddle-waddle/Till the very next day, ba-ba, ba-ba-ba-da-ba") will stick in your head for a while, but it's worth it.
6. Beethoven's Wig
Yes, there are introductions to classical music besides Baby Einstein, and this is a hilarious one. Using the opening of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" to tell the saga of the composer's impossibly long hairpiece will amuse your family and get them humming the familiar dramatic bum-bum-bum-BUUUUMM notes when you least expect it.
7. Mahna Mahna
I literally get teary-eyed when I think of all the kids who are missing out on the glorious chaos of the original Muppet Show. Please keep the Jim Henson legacy going by introducing your little ones to this classic bit, featuring Henson as Mahna-Mahna and Frank Oz as the backups known as the Snowths. Then watch how quickly they respond when you sing the "mahna mahna" part to them unexpectedly.
8. Penguin Dance
"Penguins, attention! Penguins, begin!" Kids have a great time following along to all the flipper-lifting and waddling that goes along with this Learning Station song, and even you won't be able to resist giggling when they get to the tongue-sticking-out part.
9. The Gummy Bear Song
Don't try to understand it. Just put on the tune and watch the kids bounce, sing, and "party pop" their way to utter giddiness. If you have time to spare, do a little searching and see if you can find a language that the Gummy Bear Song hasn't been translated into yet. (Portuguese? Korean? Finnish? Urdu? Done, done, done, and done.)
10. Lulu's Shake Break
Young kids need to move, and "Lulu's Shake Break" honors this need with its urging to wave, turn around, swim, and shake it all out. "When I sit around, I get lazy," the song goes, but playing this infectious tune will help cure those idle urges.
11. Down By The Bay
Raffi may not be as much of a household word as he used to be a generation ago, but his songs are still a delight for the preschool set. This perennial favorite combines a hard-to-forget tune with fun rhymes; for extra enjoyment, try coming up with some of your own. (Did you ever see a balloon fly to the moon? A kitty looking really pretty? Darth Vader working as a waiter?)
For those days when you feel like a room without a roof, there's nothing better than cranking up Pharrell's popular ode to joy. Even if your kids haven't seen Despicable Me 2, they'll get into the spirit as soon as they hear the beat. And you know what? You will too.
13. I Wan'na Be Like You
If you're more old-school Disney, then you and your kids have to give a listen to Fall Out Boy's cover of The Jungle Book's famous song. Originally written as a jazz number for Louis Prima, Pete Wentz gives it a rock twist that totally works. But then, could you expect anything less from a musician who named his oldest son Bronx Mowgli?
Edit note: This post has been updated from its original version.