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Confession time: Although we *try* our best to limit screen time, I’m sure I’m not the only mom who has googled “best apps for 2 year olds” while frantically packing for our first airplane trip with my son. Toddlers are tough even at the best of times, and taking a toddler on a plane requires a special kind of patience that I sometimes struggle to muster up. I wanted a list of the top toddler apps that would be fun and keep my son’s attention but that would also be educational for him. We reserve the iPad for planes, trains, and other moving vehicles, going out to dinner, and when the kids wake up WAY TOO EARLY (which to be fair is a lot). The apps listed below are all apps that my son LOVES and gives his toddler seal of approval.
If apps aren’t your thing or don’t keep your little one’s attention, check out this awesome list of the best movies and TV shows for Toddlers instead. That new download feature on Netflix has SAVED ME on a long flight several times!!
Here is my list of the top 10 iPad apps for toddlers:
My son loves ANYTHING to do with vehicles. Diggers, Dumpers, police cars, garbage trucks – basically anything that moves. This app has it all and throws in some problem-solving skills to keep kids learning on the go. This is a good app for a 2 year old, but my son still enjoys it at 3 years old.
Along the truck theme, this is another one of my son’s absolute favorite apps. Build a truck is quite simple, making it one of the best apps for 2 year olds. You get to build and design your own truck, how cool! After choosing the colors, decals and the parts for the car, the best part (in my opinion!) is you get to name your car. This is how my son has learned his letters! He asks me how to spell “super fast race car” and I make him type every single letter into the iPad keyboard. It won’t even let you type that long but I make him do it anyway, Ha!
My son is OBSESSED with this app. Ever since he was really little he has gotten a kick out of “Talking Ben.” When you talk to Ben, Ben repeats back what you say and that is basically the premise of the app (as far as I can tell!). I think anything that gets you talking out loud on the iPad is a good thing so I like this app. Also, talking Ben has a separate page where he does science experiments. Again, although the app is pretty simple, my son is now totally into science experiments “just like talking ben.” I call that a win.
Endless ABCs is a series along with Endless Reader and Endless 123s. The focus is on early literacy and recognizing letters, numbers and sight words. The animations are cute and there are simple puzzles that keep your child’s attention.
Almost every toddler goes through a “Thomas phase” and my son certainly had his obsession going strong for several months around age 2. This app lets you race Thomas and can be played with a friend. I like the cooperative aspect as it helps get mom and dad engaged in the game as well.If all they want is Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, this app is a great choice.
This app has a lot packed into one bundle. There is coloring, letter recognition, memory games and even math skills. My son (of course) loves the racing section!
This was one of the first apps that we got when our son was only around 18 months. It is a pop-up storybook and we first used it on a plane ride to Mexico. At that age, kids love to see new things pop-up on the screen and my son was so happy to see the screen “respond” to what he was doing. I definitely recommend this app (and the whole series) if you have a younger infant.
All of the Sago Mini apps are great, it’s no surprise my son loves the one called “Holiday Trucks and Diggers.” The apps are interactive and easy for young kids to understand. My son was doing the Sago Mini apps from about 20 months old. Lots of great fun on these apps.
This app has really nice visuals and animations that are especially likely to captivate the younger crowd. My son loved watching the fish swim by on this app when he was around 18 months old.
My son has been hesitant to practice his letter writing skills because he is a little perfectionist that has to draw them ‘perfect’ every time. Letter school is a great app for learning some very preliminary letter skills that my son enjoyed. There are different levels depending on the child’s skill level. After practicing with the App for a few weeks my son seemed more confident trying the letters on paper.
How to Set Up Guided Access (So they can’t exit the app!)
If you have ever given a toddler an iPad you will know that the first thing they will do is press the home button. And then they will KEEP PRESSING THIS BUTTON AGAIN and AGAIN until you want to pull your hair out. Each time they press the home button they will cry because their app turned off. That little button is just SO TEMPTING! Guided access is the solution to this problem. It will prevent the home button from taking you to the home screen.
- Go to settings
- Tap General
- Tap accessibility
- Turn ON “Guided Access”
- Tap Set Guided Access Passcode and set your passcode
- Click ON for the line that reads “ACCESSIBILITY SHORTCUT”
To turn it on:
- Go to whatever app you want on
- Triple-click the home button
- Tap start at the top of the screen
To turn it off:
- Triple-click home button
- Enter your password
I should also give a shout-out to my favorite toddler proof iPad case! This is the case we use with our iPad and BOY has it been through a beating. No iPads have been harmed though and the big arms are great for little hands.
Do you have a favorite iPad app that you like to use with your toddler? Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what you think!