Drum Sets for Toddlers

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drum sets for toddlers

Musical instruments are so great for kids. They’re a way to let extra energy out, be creative, and develop the natural musical talent that every — yes, every — toddler has. And toys drums are particularly great because they’re so easy and fun to play. Drumming can literally even be used as therapy.

When I was a kid, my first “drum set” was created by my mom stringing yarn through an empty container of Quaker Oats, which I would wear around my neck and play with two spoons.

I was quite happy and, in fact, eventually grew up to be a music teacher and a professional pianist.

Today there are tons of more elaborate drums out there for toddlers (which I am loosely defining here as about 1 to 3 years old). I decided to give a few of them a look-see and let you know what I thought of them.


Light-Up Toy Drum for Toddlers
Light-Up Toy Drum for Toddlers

This drum has three different learning modes. In Alphabet Mode, it displays a letter of the alphabet which saying it out loud. In Music Mode, it plays music and lights up in rhythm. In Dancing Mode, it suggests movements (like “Clap Your Hands”) both vocally and with pictures.

Amazon reviewer M. Fields describes why this is a great toy for their 9-month old boy:

He is experimenting with the cause and effect of banging on it, both ends of course, and is quickly learning which end produces the noises. It has three different settings, as well as a ‘parent freindly’ volume control. It’s added feature is that it encourages motor development not only in hand-eye coordination but also in that the baby will chase the toy around the floor as it rolls away from them. The lights and sounds encourage attention and activity from an early age, and the alphabet can be ‘banged’ out as the child hits the drum. Other setting provide the child the chance to bang out pre-set musical tunes. All children love music and movement, and the settings on this drum provide changable, enjoyable entertainment for an approximate developmental age range of 9 months to 3 years old.

To be honest — and remember, I’m a music teacher, not just a mom! — this wouldn’t be my first choice for a toddler’s drum. It’s too busy for my tastes — between the light and music and letters, the concept of drumming seems like it would easily get lost. Also, the drum makes a very low sound when it is hit, even on the loud setting, and it can be difficult to hear over the music that automatically plays on the Music and Dancing Modes.

So, a musician myself, what drums for kids appeal to me more? Something like this:


Set of Professional Hand Drums and Mallets
Set of Professional Hand Drums and Mallets

This hand drum set is much more my style, and it looks like something I would have loved to use in my elementary school music classrooms. It comes with five drums that are five different sizes, with a mallet for each one. The drums are “real instruments” as opposed to being a plastic or electronic toy, and they are very durable. I could see not only toddlers using this, but also middle schoolers (or frankly, even adults). It would be fantastic for small or medium-sized groups of kids.


Solid Wooden Drum and Mallet
Solid Wooden Drum and Mallet

If you’re worried that giving a toddler a drum would produce a nightmare that would send you running for the Tylenol, don’t worry: due to its design, this wood drum produces different tones depending on where you strike it, giving it a more melodious and pretty sound that you normally expect from a drum.
This particular drum is sized for a 9-18 month old, so it you’re looking for a drum for a three or four year old, you might want to consider this larger drum designed by the same company for slightly older kids.

I like this wood drum for the same reasons I like the set of 5 hand drums — they are “real,” durable, and not over-stimulating. It’s worth noting that this does not work well as a hand drum, so if that’s your intended purpose, you should probably look elsewhere.


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Wooden Drum Set for Toddlers
Wooden Drum Set for Toddlers

As you can see, I’m somewhat biased toward wooden instruments. This drum is a good value and very sturdy. It’s not incredibly loud, so it shouldn’t induce parental headaches, and it has a nice color scheme around the outside. Plus, if you want to expand your toddler’s musical instrument inventory, this company also makes a rainbow xylophone, mini maracas, and even a pan flute!
What’s the downside? Well, as you can see in the photo, there’s quite a bit of wood around the top edge, leaving a rather small diamer for the actual drum head. This is definitely not drum that kids are going to continue to use when they turn five or six years old.

Plastic Drum for Toddlers
Plastic Drum for Toddlers

If you’re not terribly concerned about getting a “real instrument” versus a “toy,” or if you want something inexpensive, this Like Tikes plastic drum would make a nice choice. It’s durable and lightweight and has slots on the sides to store the mallets. However, be prepared for it to sound more like “hitting something” than like an actual drum. Personally, I think this drum would work best for young toddlers/older babies — say, in the range of 8-15 month olds.


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What kid doesn’t want to sit at a real, full drum set and play the drums like a rock star? I know I did! (Still do, ha ha.)

If you’re looking for a toy that best simulates the look and feel of a real drum set, then this is the toy for you. Complete with working microphone and volume control (hurray for volume control settings!!), you can either play alone or along with music. There are several different “sound effect” settings, including a xylophone or bell, or of course you can just stick with a regular drum sound.


Whichever drum you choose to buy — or even if you to go with the empty oatmeal box like I had — be sure to be involved in your children’s music education. Dance with them, sing with them, clap with them, tap rhythms for them to echo. And most of all, have fun together!
(This Sesame Street video is a good place to start.)

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