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25 Adorably Engaging Apps for Toddlers

Corey Kagan Whelan
Aug. 7, 2015

Want an app that will keep your tot's interest instead of getting tossed aside after five minutes? Try these engaging apps for toddlers, sure to keep him entertained for hours.

It wasn't the case when you were growing up, but these days it's pretty much a given that digital media will be part of how your tot learns and plays. But it won't be the only way they learn, so finding the best apps will make the most of whatever screen time they have. Though apps are a great learning tool, it's important to remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use for kids under age 2.

Even some moms who live and breathe media wait awhile before introducing apps for toddlers. "My son was 3 when he got an iPad," say Alison Hirst, an app reviewer for the iMums blog. Child development expert Georgene Troseth, an associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, agrees that screen time for toddlers should not take up the bulk of their day.

"Think of screen time as part of a 'balanced diet' of activities. Make sure your child's screen time stays in balance with other important activities such as playing outside, reading and social engagement with others," she suggests.

When you're ready to start downloading, you'll want to choose the best apps for toddlers you can find. The most effective, well-designed toddler apps keep the learning style and attention span of these littlest learners in mind. "You want to find beautifully designed toddler apps that teach skills, creative play and exploration," says Hirst.

You can't go wrong with the choices on this list:

Animals and Nature
 

  1. Petting Zoo: Animal Animations, $2.99
    A creatively quirky, animated introduction to animals, Petting Zoo – Animal Animations is an interactive picture book from illustrator Christoph Niemann.
     
  2. Peek-a-Zoo, $1.99
    Kids connect with sweetly drawn animals and learn to identify emotions with Peek-a-Zoo.
     
  3. Peekaboo Forest, $1.99
    Inspired by the natural world, Peekaboo Forest is a vividly illustrated, interactive app that delights toddlers with its portrayal of animals and the seasons.


Favorite Friends From Books and TV
 

  1. Pat the Bunny, $3.99
    A wonderful compliment to the book, toddlers enjoy feeding and playing with the familiar Pat the Bunny.
     
  2. Moo, Baa, La La La! Sandra Boynton, $3.99
    Boynton's popular book comes alive with silly sounds in the interactive Moo, Baa, La La La!
     
  3. Yo Gabba Gabba! Babies, $1.99
    In Yo Gabba Gabba! Babies, pint-size versions of the popular Nick Jr. characters go through day-to-day routines.
     
  4. Cookie Monster's Challenge, $2.99
    Everyone's favorite monster helps toddlers acquire self-control and nonacademic school readiness skills in Cookie Monster's Challenge.


Puzzles, Colors and Shapes
 

  1. Uncolor, $0.99
    Engaging animations appear after tots uncover a black screen in Uncolor.
     
  2. Wood Puzzle HD, $0.99
    Toddlers fine-tune their motor skills with 24 easy-to-do puzzles, accessible in Wood Puzzle HD's baby mode.
     
  3. Color & Draw for Kids, $0.99
    The creative Color & Draw for Kids features a finger painting option and tons of coloring pages.
     
  4. Tozzle: Toddler's Favorite Puzzle, $1.99
    Over 40 puzzles are accompanied by silly sound effects in Tozzle.
     
  5. Busy Shapes, $1.99
    Inspired by Jean Piaget's cognitive theory, Busy Shapes is a digital playground which helps toddlers and babies understand simple shapes.


Nursery Rhymes and Sleepy Time

 

  1. Favorite Nursery Rhymes, $5.99
    A six-app bundle of classic favorites, Favorite Nursery Rhymes includes "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "The Wheels on the Bus."
     
  2. Nighty Night Circus, $2.99
    Charming bedtime stories feature magical, interactive circus animals and lovely animation in Nighty Night Circus.
     
  3. Twinkle Twinkle, $2.99
    A soothing and relaxing bedtime story, Twinkle Twinkle can soothe and entertain.
     
  4. Goodnight Moon, $4.99
    The beloved book comes alive in the interactive, gentle Goodnight Moon app.
     
  5. Bobbee's Afraid of the Dark, $0.99
    The read or listen-to story of Bobbee's Afraid of the Dark helps even the most timid toddlers overcome their fear of the dark.


Musical Apps
 

  1. Baby's Musical Hands, $0.99
    The award-winning Baby's Musical Hands provides visual and audio stimulation for antsy tots.
     
  2. Sago Mini Sound Box, $2.99
    Sago Mini Sound Box features nine different sound makers.
     
  3. Sound Touch, $4.99
    Utilize more than 200 engaging noises with Sound Touch.
     
  4. Little Fox Music Box, $2.99
    The sweet, sing-along Little Fox Music Box includes classics like "London Bridge" and "Old MacDonald."


Cause and Effect Apps
 

  1. Windy and Friends Appisodes: A Collection of Kid's Puppet Adventures and Activities, $6.99
    A magical five app bundle, Windy and Friends Appisodes features gentle characters and interactive stories about everyday situations.
     
  2. Beck and Bo, $2.99
    A sister and brother go through day-to-day life in Beck and Bo, interacting with various objects they drag and drop in this beautifully illustrated app.
     
  3. Hat Monkey, $2.99
    Toddlers learn empathy while helping a little monkey do tasks around the house in the Hat Monkey.
     
  4. Little Builders: Truck, Crane & Digger for Kids, $2.99
    Children operate machinery on a construction site -- anything can happen in Little Builders.

 

Looking for more apps? Check out 21 Awesome Free Apps for Kids!


Corey Kagan Whelan is a freelance writer specializing in all things mom.

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