Sharing music with toddlers is a great opportunity for connection and learning.

Toddlers gain a lot from having music in their lives. It’s fun, and it encourages active movement – so it provides opportunities to develop their motor (muscle) skills too.

Parents and children can also bond through music, when they’re sharing and enjoying a song, or swaying and dancing.

Music is part of life

Music is a natural part of life for toddlers. They might sing to their stuffed animals, copy songs they hear and enjoy the sound of their parents singing to them.

Parents often say they ‘can’t sing’ and may get shy singing to their child, but the child doesn’t notice — or care.

Toddlers love songs that mum and dad make up about things the whānau have done, or naming the family members in made-up songs.

Music changes the mood

Toddlers respond to the mood of music, which might be lively and active, or slow and gentle. They’ll be especially responsive if whānau move to the sounds, matching the music’s style.

Parents can use special songs and music to soothe and calm their children. Familiar songs can be used to redirect their attention.

Music and socialising

Music is often a social experience too. People sing together and dance together, and toddlers can enjoy being part of a group like this.

In each chapter of the Whakatipu booklets there’s a ‘Waiata kōhungahunga’ section and a reference to the Tākai website where parents can hear some of the waiata.

And there’s a collection of over 50 rhymes and songs which can be printed and shared with whānau.

Other resources

Play idea: Music – Waiata | Ministry of Education(external link)

Tātai kōrero – Waiata | YouTube(external link)

‘Tātai kōrero’ features Māori whānau sharing their views and experiences of parenting.

In this episode, whānau talk about the benefits waiata can bring to the lives of mokopuna by promoting all areas of their learning, development and wellbeing.