November 27, 2017

Best Free Apps for Toddlers

I’ll admit, when it came to baby and the iPad, at first, I was not a fan. It’s not that I was worried about too much “screen time”. If I was, I’d be pretty hypocritical. At such a young age, I just didn’t see the need when she was surrounded by so many enriching books and toys, and the outdoors. I’ve also seen giving a toddler an iPad take a turn for the worse, as in, the world was ending if they did not have it. Ya, that probably played a part in turning me off the idea of screen time as well. 

My time to give in to the iPad came on our recent family vacation to Alaska. Despite creating this very elaborate busy bag for Morley, I knew it had the potential to fail us and that we needed to have a trick in our back pockets, just in case. Enter the iPad.

Best Free Apps for Toddlers

Toddler apps can be a beautiful thing for a parent. Just when you think a situation with your child is about to go south — say, a 14+ hour travel day —you whip out your digital device and poof! 

But, before we could give her the iPad, we needed to fill it with appropriate apps for someone her age and with her interests (mostly choo choos and baa baa sheep at the time).  

The problem was, how do you go about finding toddler apps that appeal to your little one, and are somewhat educational? There are thousands of toddler apps out there, but I wanted quality. Something recommended by someone like me for someone like me, the mother of a toddler.

After scouring the internet for suggestions (and asking a few mama friends), I came across approximately 20 new apps that I thought Morley would like. That may seen like a lot to download, but I knew there was likely to be some hits and misses among the bunch. And, hits and misses there were. Some may have been a hit to Morley, but I didn’t see the value. And, on the other hand, there were some I loved and thought for sure she would too, but they couldn’t keep her attention. You could say it was a bit of trial and error.

Luckily, I finally failed it down and today, I'm sharing the hits with YOU! Check out my tried and true list of the best FREE toddler apps. 

*Please note, we are Apple users, so these are apps intended for iPhones and iPads only. Sorry Android-lovers!

Best Free Apps for Toddlers

Best FREE Apps for Toddlers

Row 1:

A fun-filled learning app that features baby’s favourite Laugh & Learn™ characters. Children are encouraged to interact with engaging animations, sing-along songs & sound effects. 

Children are encouraged to learn animals and the sounds animals make through interaction with engaging animations and sound effects! Baby can tap, tilt or shake to set a learning world in motion! Designed for babies 6 months & up.

All aboard! Morley is really into “choo choos” right now, so she loves this app. This app takes kids through a variety of tasks that build and steer a LEGO® DUPLO® Train from station to station. Your child will play the role of the train driver, load cargo, build bridges, stop at crossings, help passengers, refuel, and lay new tracks to steer the train safely around obstacles.

Row 2:

We love watching Splash and Bubbles on TV, and now we can take them with us wherever we go! This app allows you to join the main characters - Splash, Bubbles, Dunk, and Ripple - on a journey to the world’s undersea habitats, where you’ll discover the creatures that live there and learn about the many different ways plants and animals thrive in the ocean. Then use the animals, plants, and objects you find to build and decorate your very own ocean!

I was a big fan of Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood when I was young, so this TV show and app are a hit in our house. The Daniel Tiger’s Storybooks app offers a library of interactive stories narrated by Daniel Tiger, and show him learning little life lessons, like sharing with friends and being a helper.

Coming from this mama, kids are never too young to start learning about their natural world. This app offers daily activities that will get your family outside, exploring your neighbourhood and learning about nature. It's part of PLUM LANDING, a PBS KIDS project that helps kids develop a love for this amazing and beautiful planet we call home. It features 150+ unique missions to explore your local plants, animals, weather and more!

Row 3:

This app is an easy-to-use painting application that is designed specifically for little kids to enjoy doodling freely, and without mess. It has more than 20 “brushes”, such as neon, fireworks, rainbow brush, crayon brush, oil brush, etc. Your child’s Picasso can then be saved onto your phone to share.

Out of the whole list, I would say Kids Doodle has seen the most action. Because it keeps her occupied, and we don’t always carry the iPad when we’re out, I also have downloaded the iPhone version.

This is an app full of games, activities, and videos, which will help teach your child about letters, sounds, and words. (Please note, the free version only contains Letters A, B and C. You must upgrade to unlock letters D through Z.)

Animals are a hit in our house, and this flash card app allows Morley to become an animal expert. Whether it be trains, horses, boats, sheep or cats that interest you child, this learning app allows children to choose from an extensive list of sounds lovingly presented in cartoon images for easy recognition. Each sound has five different versions to listen to. So, for example, if your child selects the dog, listens to the sound of a dog, and then taps it again, a different dog sound plays accompanied by a different dog image to enjoy.

Row 4:

I know you may not associate this app with a toddler, or learning activity, but on a long travel day it is much appreciate. The Netflix app allows you to pre-download your favourite shows to watch when you are offline. No wifi needed to watch. It is a lifesaver in the car! 

When connected to wifi, this app is a great alternative to Netflix. The official YouTube Kids app is designed for curious little minds to dive into a world of discovery, learning and entertainment. YouTube Kids gives your family an easy way to watch their favourite shows, or explore anything that captures their imagination. It’s free, simple to use, and full of family-friendly videos.

Our personal favourite YouTube videos? Shaun the Sheep - with no words, it is entertaining for the whole family. Mama and dada included.

Travel with Harvey, Jinja, Robin and Jack as you explore space, fly through a forest, build a robot, design a monster, drive a firetruck, deep-sea dive, become a superhero, visit your friends and more – all in one whimsical world. This free app gives you unlimited access to the complete collection of 20+ games, all in one kid-friendly app.

Best Free Apps for Toddlers

Recommendation: When giving your toddler the iPad or iPhone, I highly recommended using the Guided Access setting, which temporarily restricts your device to a single app and does not allow them to do some major rearranging of other apps. Learn how to set it up here

Does your toddler enjoy using the iPad? What are their favourite apps? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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