17 apps to educate + entertain toddlers
The BIG question: How much screen time—if any—should your child be allowed?
This popular parenting debate is often top of mind in our iPhone-tablet-Netflix-gadget-loving world. Is it okay to give your kid quality time with Elmo in order for you to get peaceful dinner making? In our opinion, it's a personal choice that every parent has to make in our device-obsessed age.
A new study out of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has offered
guidance on children's and adolescents' media use saying, “not all screen time is detrimental or that parents should feel guilty if they need to put on a cartoon for a few minutes."
For many parents, it's not always black and white. Children are now born with the ability to magically unlock our iPhones with their tiny fingers—and other recent research shows that some programming, like Sesame Street, can actually boost outcomes for little brains. What's a parent to do?
Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, FAAP, and member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media has argued for responsible media use for children under two saying, “Tablets can be used to read books to children, and high quality apps are similar to toys. Therefore, the AAP needs to consider how these devices are used instead of discouraging their use across the board. We don't want to risk appearing so out of touch that we're irrelevant and people won't take our advice seriously."
Media use is always going to be a part of our parenting, so you might get started by creating a family media use plan so that everyone's on the same page.
If you are ready to pop out the iPad (sometimes!), or are looking for new entertainment for your toddler, we've rounded up some of our top picks.
Here are some of our favorite creative and smart apps to consider for your kiddo:
This is an app full of fun phone calls from Elmo, which will help teach your child about healthy habits, self-confidence and letters.
Is the kid in your life musically inclined? Let them play with sounds and create their own band.
Arthur's Teacher Trouble
The beloved aardvark makes his digital app debut. Nervous energy sure to come.
Number Quiz has four different games for every stage of learning: flashcards, identification, matching and handwriting. Designed for kids but great for all ages. Yes, even you, mama.
Wheels on the Bus
A tribute to a childhood classic, Wheels on the Bus, turns learning into fun activities.
An award-winning educational, creative play app, Trucks teaches sequencing, sorting and problem solving. Get ready to head to the carwash, tow trucks, pick up garbage and recycling, and so much more.
Elmo Loves ABCs
This app is full of games, activities and videos that teach your child about letters, sounds and words with their favorite furry friend.
The Boynton Collection
Stomp your feet and clap your hands! Now you can find Sandra Boynton's first four interactive apps in one convenient place: The Going to Bed Book, Moo, Baa, La La La!, Blue Hat, Green Hat and Barnyard Dance!
Fashcards are a great tool to help children (and even babies) learn basic words. Use this app to teach basic words while showing cute puppy pictures. What's not to love?
Tozzle Lite Toddlers
Looking for something entertaining but also educational for your kid? Then Tozzle is the perfect app to help your little one learn to improve shape recognition and motor activity.
If you're looking to sharpen your child's reasoning skills and awaken their intelligence, checkout this digital exploratory playground.
The Little Red Hen
Bring the classics back in a whole new way while teaching children the importance of working hard and taking initiative.
Baby's Musical Hands
Baby can make the screen come alive with motion and music with his touch, meaning "your baby gets the kind of feedback they expect when touching the screen."
Created by early childhood experts, this app encourages kids to explore while learning their first words in a safe, interactive world free from levels and rules. Play it in 10 different languages—English (US), English (UK), Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends – First Words
This game helps toddlers to learn their first words from the much-loved characters. Watch your favorite books come alive!
Feeling a tad stressed about teaching your kid? Created by teachers and leaders in education, this app has over 10,000 learning games for children at all academic levels. It's perfect if you have multiple kids or one who needs help getting engaged with learning.
Apollo's Moon Shot AR
Kids of all ages will enjoy playing two thrilling AR simulation games to test their ability at navigating a course to the moon and dodging craters and boulders to make a smooth lunar landing, launch their own Saturn V rocket or visit inside the Lunar Command Module of Apollo 11.
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