13 Classic Spanish Children's Songs Your Babies and Toddlers Will Actually Want to Learn
I was born and raised between constant hugs and kisses, some scolding, and many songs. Some of my first and most beloved memories, those that have marked me most, are musical and projected in the voices of my mother or my abuelitas. As an immigrant, I have raised my son in the same way, albeit more consciously. I want him to love, appreciate, and preserve his family's cultural heritage, the flavors, aromas, language, and, of course, songs. That is tradition and culture, but above all, it is love and belonging.
After an intense memory exercise, I came up with 13 Spanish-language songs to sing to (or sing along with) babies and toddlers. Most of them are classics from my childhood; others are new ones I've learned for my son. Some are bilingual, and most of them are somewhat instructional.
Let's celebrate our heritage cantando.
"Arroz Con Leche"
Arroz con leche is not only a delicious Hispanic dessert, it is also a superfamous children's song. The classic melody has different lyrics in every country, but no matter the origin, introducing young children to it is a great way to celebrate their heritage, the Spanish language, and the Latino culture.
"Un Elefante se Balanceaba"
This iconic and catchy Spanish song was one of my favorites during my early childhood in Cuba. Years later, when I became a mom, I used to sing this classic to my son all the time. It's not only a lot of fun, but it also encourages concentration while making younger children familiar with numbers and counting.
"La Marcha de las Vocales"
There are other songs about the vowels in Spanish, but this one, written by famous Mexican children's songs composer Francisco Gabilondo Soler, marked my younger years. This song is great for babies and toddlers to start to familiarize themselves with the alphabet. Also, thanks to the melody and rhythm, this is a great first step to encourage their ability to read in Spanish.
"Barquito de Papel"
This song is another of my favorite kiddie classics. I even have memories of myself holding hands with other children in a nursery singing this song. The tune talks about two essential human values that every parent wants to instill in their children: friendship and peace. It is also perfect for promoting a sense of adventure and an early notion of diversity and inclusion.
"Naranja Dulce, Limón Partido"
Spanish speakers of the most diverse backgrounds may be able to hum this song. This shows just how popular this Latin American children's theme is. During my son's early childhood, he became obsessed with this one, especially the part that mentions un abrazo, when I would hold him in my arms every time we listened to it.
"Los Pollitos Dicen"
Another traditional children's song from my family's repertoire is "Los Pollitos Dicen." It is hard to believe that this beloved tune counts more than a century of existence. The sweet, easy-to-memorize little song was a constant throughout my son's early childhood. Its authorship is attributed to the Chilean poet and educator Ismael Parraguez.
"Si Estás Feliz"
If, like me, you want to raise a child able to speak both English and Spanish, music is an invaluable ally. During my son Pablo's first years, I fell in love with Super Simple Songs and its Spanish version Super Simple Songs Español. This song is popular in English, but I also love the Spanish-language version that is great for children to learn to identify emotions; it also promotes motor skills.
"Pim Pon es un Muñeco"
This cute song never gets old. I grew up singing "Pim Pon," and so is my child. It is a familiar melody and a great way to help kids learn basic concepts of personal hygiene while having fun! The song originally came from a Chilean children's television program.
"A Mi Burro"
Unforgettable and fun, for me, this one is inevitably linked to the sweet voice of my mother. It offers a great way to stimulate memory because children need to learn and repeat the whole sequence of objects before adding a new one.
"La Vaca Lola"
One of the most recent musical hits for children in Spanish is this fun Argentine song that the little ones will want to dance to over and over again. It became so famous that the original video already has more than one billion views (yes, you heard that right). Even Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are diehard fans.
"Baile del Bebé Tiburón"
This supercatchy South Korean song is so beloved that it stole from "Despacito," the title of the most-watched video ever on YouTube. The Spanish version is just as catchy and great for stimulating bilingualism in children from an early age.
This short and sweet bilingual classic song is well-known in Latin countries like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Its origin dates back to the 1930s, and its author was the Puerto Rican teacher Pepita Ramírez. It is very catchy and a unique way for children to learn simple words in both languages.
There is nothing like music to promote bilingualism, and there's no better place to hear gorgeous melodies in English and Spanish than the Canticos channel on YouTube. My son loves this sweet tune so much that it is the perfect canción de buenos días. With "Sol Solecito," the little ones learn about day and night and the days of the week.