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10 best musical toys for babies, toddlers and older kids that provide hours of fun

From DJ decks to storytelling cubes, these are our top picks for any budding musicians

We recruited plenty of little testers of all ages to give these toys a try ( The Independent/iStock )

When it comes to engaging your little one, musical toys can be a great way to entertain and educate, as it is proven that music can help babies' communication and brain responses.

Whether you are looking to introduce your newborn to the world or have a toddler who won’t sit still, we’ve found a range of toys to bring some music into their life.

We recruited plenty of little testers of all ages to give them a try, looking at how they interacted with the toys, the educational value of each toy and how long it entertained them for.

We also gathered the thoughts of parents who considered value for money and the practicalities of the toy, such how easy it was to use and assemble. From toys for story time to their very own phone and record player, here’s ten of the very best musical toys.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Infantino spin and slide DJ panda: £14.99, Amazon

Of all the toys our mini testers tried, this spin and slide panda seemed to keep them engaged for the longest and we must admit, we did enjoy spinning the decks ourselves occasionally too. This toy is full of sensory features that can be enjoyed from as young as six-months-old and up to three years of age; from the contrasting black and white panda design to the large bright orange and yellow flashing buttons.

Your child can create tunes by pressing the two turntable buttons on the deck, along with spinning and sliding to authentic record scratch sounds. With all the music toys on the market, it’s refreshing to find one that actually creates quite pleasant background noise, meaning we will no longer get “I’m a little teapot” stuck in our heads for hours. It’s versatile too: younger ones will find it brings excitement to tummy time while older children will enjoy carrying it around and playing with it at the kitchen table. A great all-round toy.

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LeapFrog 2 leapstory: £34.99, Symths Toys

Make bedtime a lot more fun with this storytelling cube from Leapfrog. Our tired parent testers loved that it already comes with eighty different tracks. These include classic stories, such as Sleeping Beauty and The Frog Prince, along with myths and legends and learning songs like “Five Little Birdies” and “London Bridge is Falling Down”, meaning you never run out of something new each evening.

Parents who can’t always make bed time will love the option to record their own voice and the timer mode means you can make sure story time doesn’t overrun into sleep time. Our little testers loved the projector option; which shows animations on to the wall as the story progresses. While the product is suitable for children aged three and above, we found younger siblings were equally mesmerised and still loved to listen along.

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Little Tikes stand ‘n dance starfish: £20, Argos

If you’re looking for a musical toy that will adapt to your little one’s development, the stand ‘n dance starfish is a great choice. Babies who can sit up will love pressing the large, flat colourful pads of the keyboard at the base of the toy, which light up and play a tune. When beginning to walk, cruising babies can hold on to the handles and dance along, and once walking, they can use their feet on the piano keys and use the ball drop slide. The slide in particular kept toddlers entertained for quite some time while younger testers loved reaching for the light up musical pads over and over again.

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In The Night Garden fun phone: £10.99, Smyths Toys

Have a child who loves to snatch the phone out of your hands? This plastic, durable In The Night Garden-themed toy phone is a great solution. Small hands will love the four supersized buttons; which play a variety of sounds and phrases from the show (with chat from characters like IglePiggle and Upsy Daisy). Unlike real mobile phones, this one is much more hardwearing, so don’t worry if it gets flung across the room. Its size makes it the perfect toy to pop in your bag for car journeys but, because of this, its functions are fairly limited, so be warned that it won’t necessarily keep your little ones entertained for hours on end.

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Fisher Price music box record player: £35, JoJo Maman Bebe

This iconic record player is almost 50 years old, providing much nostalgia since we remember having it ourselves as a child. Yet it’s still bringing music into the living rooms of a new generation. Unlike lots of toys on the market, the premise is simple: handy slot store five records, each of which is double sided, containing two different tunes. Pop on your very own turntable and enjoy nursery rhyme classics such as ”Humpty Dumpty” and “Hickory Dickory Dock” that play out. The volume is great for such a small item and the useful handle means older children will also enjoy carrying this around with them too.

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Plan Toys wooden kazoo: £10, Royal Opera House Shop

As we are becoming more conscious of the environment than ever before, it’s hard not to notice the sheer amount of plastic in many of our toy boxes. This wooden kazoo is a lovely alternative and proves toys don’t have to be electronic to be a lot of fun. As a kazoo makes sounds after hearing your voice, our mini tester loved creating lots of different sounds by humming into the small wooden end, which is amplified by the red horn at the opposite end. This kazoo is made from sustainable wood, recycled packaging, and water-based ink; making it a fantastic ethical purchase.

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Early Learning Centre percussion mat: £23.99, Early Learning Centre

If you’re looking for a music toy that takes up minimum space and can be kept easily on your playroom floor, we love the ELC percussion mat. Younger babies can use the small tummy time cushion that’s included to explore the mat with their hands, while older siblings can stomp along with their feet at the same time. The images of the violin, trumpet, drum, and piano can be pressed to change the kind of instrument sound that plays, which makes this a good way to introduce children to different types of music. Don’t worry about sticky fingers and feet, it wipes clean in seconds.

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Hape rock and rhythm band: £35, Argos

Any budding musician will love this drum and cymbal set by Hape, ideal for a busy toddler who has lots of energy. The kit looks really authentic, comprising of a stand, three drums, a cymbal and two sticks to play them with. Our tester found it really easy to grip and move with the sticks and really enjoyed creating different sounds and rhythms. Thankfully, you won’t have to cover your ears while your little one plays as the design restricts the volume this makes. As well as being a lot of fun, this one is great for building toddler’s coordination and movement.

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Baby Clementoni interactive dancing hippo: £25, Baby Clementoni

There’s quite a few different interactive animal toys on the market but we have a particular soft spot for Philip, the dancing hippo. Suitable for ten months and up, the adorable hippo performs a variety of functions, from dancing to clapping his paws. There’s lots of interactivity, with the idea that little ones join in with Philip’s movements to help get a sense of rhythm. There’s also an educational element; by pressing on either of Philip’s feet; children can listen along to rhymes that teach them all about numbers, different animals and their sounds. A gift that’s both educational and extremely enjoyable.

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Early Learning Centre music maker: £15, Early Learning Centre

Most of the musical toys we found were only suitable for one-year-olds and over, so we were pleased to find this one that babies can enjoy. This music maker is a fantastic introduction to sounds and allows you to create your very own sensory class in your living room. The shimmering beads on the rattles mesmerised our baby and the bells and clacking cymbals provided good fun too.

This is perfect for gripping and shaking and we found the vibrant design encouraged our little one to reach out, making it great for introducing coordination skills. The rattles can be joined together to create one giant music maker or separated to be popped in a changing bag for instant amusement on the go.

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The verdict: Musical toys

For a modern musical toy, we loved the Infantino spin and slide DJ panda, but for a little bit of nostalgia, we also love Fisher Price’s record player. Finally, we loved the leapstory, a nifty device that brings excitement and education to story time.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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