Introducing your child to the magic of music doesn't have to mutilate your wallet. Babies love dancing, so create musical moments on a budget in your own home!
If your baby bobs her head when music starts to play, if your toddler taps his foot in time to rhythm, if jamming to jazz seems to be in your child's genes, then you should be eager to encourage your child's musical motivation. Babies love dancing, and it's wise to invest in your child's early music development. However, you don't have to spend a lot of money on music lessons. You can create magical, musical moments right in your own home!
Your local community center probably offers music classes for infants as young as six months of age, but those can cost a minimum of $4-5 per half-hour class. They tend to be quite structured, yet unsanitary, and the songs will often be ones you already know. Why not create your own magical music class in your baby's familiar environment. Invite a few other moms over for a music play date!
Start by making time for music. Just like brushing teeth and taking a bath, make music part of the daily routine. Right after breakfast or just before naptime, set aside 10-15 minutes as dedicated music time. What you do with this special time will depend on your child's age and interest level. Make this time fun, and talk it up saying things like "It's almost music time! Are you ready to make music with Mama?"
Babies love dancing, so set aside time each day to dance around the room with your newborn. Dancing is very stimulating and educational. Play a different CD every day, and as you move body to different beats, your baby will gain an early understanding of tempo. You will enjoy the exercise, and your little one will thrive on the extra bonding time in your arms. (Important Note: Do not ever shake a tiny infant. Avoid jarring or bouncing movements with small babies, and always support their head and neck.)
When your baby can hold onto things, offer musical toys. You can put a jingling toy in his or her chubby fist and shake it in time to songs on the radio. You can clap his hands or kick her feet as you sing silly songs. Explore faster and slower songs together, but don't worry too much about hitting the beat perfectly. It's more about enjoyment at this age. Make up your own words to your own tunes. Babies love dancing, and so do toddlers, so Imitate each other's dance moves. Play music-based games like musical chairs, hot potato, and head-and-shoulders.
Create a music station in the play area. You don't need a big piano to raise a muscial child. All you need is a bin full of musical items or dedicated space for rattles, drums, mini pianos, or any toy that plays a tune. If you don't have a toy drum, make one! Every kid enjoys banging a wooden spoon against the bottom of a metal pot. The noise might curl your toes, but just look at the joy on that little face. The harder your child hits, the louder the noise, but sometimes this backfires. If she tries to use her drumstick to bang on another child's head, take the stick away, comfort the hurting child, and offer your child a softer toy. Even music has boundaries.
Your local consignment store or thrift-shop is an excellent resource for used toys or instruments. You can foster a foundation in music for less than $10 when you hunt for second-hand bargains: An old harmonica, some mismatched maracas, a tiny bell, a tin bucket, a wistful wind-chime, a tattered tamborine. Take it all home, wash it up, spruce it up, and your child will have a holiday! Let someone else's donation fuel your imagination and becomes your child's inspiration.
Music is all around us. Take your child for a walk and stop when you hear a bird singing. Go to the local park and investigate the different sounds the bars make when struck with a stick. Find a farmer's market and dance to the musician's music. If you attend church or go to a concert, ask the performers if your child can "gently touch" their instruments. Every exposure to music will excite your child, encouraging them to explore further. Making music is magical!
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