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20 free toddler apps (without hidden in-app purchases!) worth downloading

Making your way through the different app stores in search of free, fun and safe apps for toddlers can be challenging, so we’ve done the legwork for you.

20 free toddler apps (without hidden in-app purchases!) worth downloading

Any busy parent or caregiver with small children will tell you that having a few fun apps on your phone can be a real lifesaver. For example, whipping out your phone and providing little ones with instant entertainment can help prevent badly timed meltdowns while you’re out running errands. But you may not know where to find the best free educational apps for toddlers or if toddlers should be getting screen time at all.

Christine Elgersma, a senior editor at media rating site Common Sense Media and a former teacher, says parents should view “technology as a tool, and set boundaries around this tool.”

There are lots of entertaining, free toddler apps available, but it’s important to make sure the apps kids are using have some educational benefit and are appropriate for their age.

“Free apps don’t always mean free,” says Sara Kloek, the director of Moms with Apps. “Oftentimes, those free apps will charge you later through things like in-app purchases or play advertising in lieu of charging. Those advertisements will sometimes collect data on your children.”

Making your way through the different app stores in search of free, fun and safe apps for toddlers can be challenging, so we’ve done the legwork for you. Here are 20 free toddler games and apps without in-app purchases.

Apps that teach problem-solving skills

1. Breathe, Think, Do

Elgersma says this Sesame Street app is great for teaching kids “chill skills” and how to think their way through a tough situation.

2. LEGO DUPLO Train

This app takes kids through a variety of tasks that build and steer a DUPLO train around a track. Kids can also decorate the landscape with fun stickers, control the train’s speed and play with the train’s horn and headlights.

3. Baby Games

This app was developed by parents and features five games to help toddlers strategize, learn first words, practice basics like colors and animal names and even create their own music.

Apps that help develop reading, language and math skills

4. Khan Academy Kids

This comprehensive learning app has hundreds of games and lessons to help kids get an early education in math, reading, phonics, writing and social-emotional development. You can choose lessons or let kids work through series customized to their age. The app also has music and yoga.

5. Shapes!

In this popular game, toddlers are encouraged to identify different shapes and colors and to differentiate between different sizes.

6. Play PBS KIDS

Toddlers will love playing along with their favorite PBS characters as they learn about letters, shapes and simple mathematical concepts. This app will work for preschool and early elementary school-aged kids, too, so you’ll be able to use it for years.

7. Fish School

Colorful little fish swim around and create different shapes, numbers and letters for toddlers to identify. There’s even a memory matching game for older toddlers and preschool kids.

8. Peek-a-Zoo

In this adorable app, toddlers will learn about different animals and will also begin to identify different emotions and behaviors.

9. First Words Sampler

This learning game is for toddlers and preschoolers and helps with letter recognition and first spelling words.

10. Basic Skills Preschool 

In this all-in-one app, toddlers can play 14 different interactive games to learn the basic skills they need to be ready for preschool, including basic shapes, counting and numbers, colors, letters and more. 

11. Little Stars Toddler Games

This game asks toddlers to find the correct letter or shape. Correct answers earn virtual stickers.

12. Starfall ABCs

In this beloved phonics and early reading app, kids work through engaging and interactive levels to master letter sounds and learn how to form basic words, sentences and more.

13. Laugh and Learn Animal Sounds

This free app from Fisher Price helps toddlers to learn the names of different animals and to identify the sounds they make. Simple to use, even the smallest toddlers will enjoy this one.

Apps that encourage creative and imaginary play

14. Balls

This free app was rated one of the best apps for toddlers by Gizmag. Kids use the touch screen to direct brightly colored paintballs, which produce wind chime sounds as they bounce off the walls and each other.

15. Toca Kitchen Monsters

This free-play app allows little ones to prepare food and feed a friendly monster.

16. Musical Me!

Teaching toddlers about rhythm, notes and even pitch, this is another top-notch, creative and free app from Duck Duck Moose.

17. Scribbaloo Paint

This intuitive and easy-to-use app gives toddlers the perfect canvas for creating their masterpieces.

18. Dentist 

Kids play dentist to a variety of cute, fuzzy animals while practicing fine motor skills, visual perception and observational skills. 

Apps for entertainment and watching videos

19. PBS Kids Videos

Recommended by Elgersma, this app provides tons of free educational video content for kids to keep them occupied when you need a quick diversion.

20. DisneyNOW

Simply log in with your TV provider information and toddlers can access all of their favorite Disney Junior shows on the go. This app also allows parents to set up a profile for their little ones to ensure that they only see age-appropriate Disney content.