Early childhood music brings, along with a host of toe-tapping memories your kids will carry into adulthood, a bevy of developmental benefits as well: early exposure to music has been proven to help children speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary and strengthen social and emotional skills.
However, most parents can agree that some kids’ music is, erm, more listenable than others. So if you’re one more repeat of ‘Baby Shark’ away from a purchase of some reeeeally good noise-cancelling headphones, we’ve put together a master list of our favourite, most listenable songs for babies, preschoolers and beyond – no industrial-strength earplugs required.
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, Randy Newman – A favourite about the meaning of friendship (just try not to choke up while thinking about Toy Story).
“The Sharing Song”, Jack Johnson – A bluesy, down-tempo beat extolling the virtues of sharing with pals.
“Skinnamarink”, Sharon, Lois & Bram – A classic tongue-twister lovefest, sung by three Canadian treasures.
“Bananaphone”, Raffi – An enduring earworm, this delightfully weird song actually kind of rocks (perfect for waltzing around the living room).
“Happy”, Pharrell – It’s pretty much impossible to stay grumpy while listening to this (deploy at will, fearless parent!)
“Octopus’s Garden”, The Beatles – Start their education into the classics with this perennial favourite.
“The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow”, StevenSteven – The original host of Blue’s Clues is back with a space-rock jingle about a unicorn who just learned that … unicorns don’t exist.
“Faith”, Ariana Grande and Stevie Wonder – Two greats get together to sing a song about having faith in friendship.
“The Dot Song”, Emily Arrow – An incredibly catchy tune about making your mark.
“Goofy Goober Rock”, Spongebob Squarepants – A hard rockin’ anthem about the joy of (occasionally!) misbehaving.
“Three Little Birds”, Bob Marley – Likely contender for sweetest song of all time.
“Alphabutt”, Kimya Dawson – A scatological alphabet song that will have any toilet-humour fan in tears.
“Reading Rainbow Theme Song”, Chaka Khan – Show me a book-loving millennial parent who doesn’t still get this song stuck in their head occasionally.
“Baby Beluga”, Raffi – Come for the whales, stay for the accordion solo.
“Speechless”, Naomi Scott (from Aladdin) – The redux of the Disney classic brought some great new tunes, and this one about raising your voice and taking up space is our fave.
“E Eats Everything”, They Might Be Giants – The kids’ music released by these alt-rock faves is consistently great. This tune mixes harmonica jams with a little alphabet lesson on the side.
“I Love You Too”, Ziggy Marley – Writing kid-friendly tunes runs in the family, and this sweet serenade by Bob’s son is a must-listen.
“Yellow Submarine”, The Beatles – Need we say more?
“One Elephant, Deux Éléphant”, Sharon, Lois & Bram – Celebrate our country’s bilingualism with this numerical slow jam.
“Everybody Has A Bellybutton”, Jules – The answer to the question “did you bring your belly button today” will always be a resounding yes.
“Smoothie”, Kimya Dawson – Dawson can do no wrong, and this song off her excellent Alphabutt album is strangely poignant and ridiculously catchy (perfect for big sisters & brothers to be!)
We’ve organized all our faves into a handy-dandy YouTube playlist here, for your living-room dance party pleasure. :)