Tuesday, January 17, 2012

iPhone Apps for Toddlers

As an update to my post about iPhone Apps for Babies, I have an expanded list of games our toddler loves to play with on the iPhone.  Comes in very handy for long plane rides or time in a waiting room, she will entertain herself with these for an hour at a time!  I know no other 'toy' that can accomplish that.

But first, some practical advice to prep those of you who are newbies to this.

Protect your phone contents
Assuming this phone belongs to you, not your toddler, you will want to have it back in the same shape.  Follow these simple tips to keep your settings safe before handing it over.
* Airplane mode- so there won't be any accidentally placed calls, texts, or emails.
* Restrict ability to install or delete apps, found in your general settings.

Two ways to let your toddler enjoy playing with your iPhone.
You may weight the pros and cons for either of these methods for introducing the iPhone apps to your child.
1. The One App at a Time method.  This is where you allow access to just one app by using a device to block the home button (see Toddler Proof iPhone post for practical suggestions).  Advantage is less fear about getting into places you don't want them to go (say you are expecting a call and so can't put in airplane mode).  Disadvantage is that your kid will bother you each time he wants to change the screen.

2. The Freestyle method.  In this case, you allow full access to your phone, no blocking of home button.  You start by teaching them to swipe your phone on, swipe to move screens, tap on their personal folder for games, and move through the steps to play them.  By far this is what your child will prefer, and you may be surprised at how quickly they learn to maneuver all the way from start to finish.  This method plays into their short attention spans, allowing freedom to select, start and stop games when they want.  This will also buy you more time from having to step in and help load up each new app for them.
Create a fun folder of apps 

Three ways to listen to the sound
1. Straight from the source.  Turn up the volume and let your little phone's speakers do their job.  This works great in most situations, even on an airplane.  I've never had any passenger complain about softly playing music or cute sound effects that come from the games.  (I'm sure they'd MUCH rather hear that than screaming!)

2. Headphones.  This is a great little set made just for kids, and has option of volume control so the sound can never get dangerously high.  We got this for our daughter but she refuses to keep it on- probably because she's used to using the phone without it.  If you start this way from the beginning your child may be more accepting.

3. Speaker.  We love this speaker and use it lots to play songs, especially when traveling.  The sound quality is really great, especially considering the small size.  Easy to charge by USB cable.  AYL Portable Mini Speaker System.

List of Recommended Toddler Apps (BEST ones listed first)
This is a list of apps not included in my iPhone Apps for Babies post (though she does still play with all of those, I thought I shouldn't repeat them here).  I selected only the ones our daughter selects frequently, and put them in an order of her favorites.

Peekaboo Barn
Intuitive, fun with barn animals that zoom up close and give their sound, then fade back into the barn behind the doors.  Kiddo just needs to touch the screen for the next animal to show up.  Good for both baby and toddler.

Peekaboo Wild
Just like Peekaboo Barn, but with safari animals hiding in the grass.  Just as fun.

ABC Song
Sometimes its the really simple things that are so enjoyable.  Floating balloons carry each letter of the alphabet upward as the ABC song is sung.  Our toddler will play this one over and over and loves to sing along.

Seuss ABC
Exactly the same words and pictures as the book.  This app will 'read' the story to your child, complete with sounds effects and red highlighting of the words as you go.  Also has interactive features.  Though on the more expensive side, this app is educational and holds our toddler's attention well.

Play & Learn Animals - Baby Flashcard Game
Love that this has REAL photos with actual animal sounds.  Also with lots of pages to browse through.

Alpha Baby
This new companion program to the computer app (see end of post for raves about that) is clever and customizable.  Kiddo taps screen to randomly see letter/number/shape/picture with voice over.  To up the fun for older toddler, there is a quiz function ("find the ___").  Best part about this is you can replace the voice with that of your own, as well as have it include your own photos!  Highly recommend this one.

Wheels on the Bus
Interactive pictures (tap and things move/bounce/make noise) to go along with this very popular song.

Preschool Adventure
Full of tons of games within one app, but perhaps an older kid can navigate them all.  Our toddler loves to find her way to the 'connect the numbers' game which at completion forms a picture that then animates as reward.  Great app to grow with, and great value for the price.

Charming animated characters give a short message when you press them- with choice of recording your own sound/picture combination (haven't tried this yet).

Koi Pond
Zen out by staring into the rippling waters filled with colorful fish.  Tapping and swiping makes the water ripple and swish.

Tap or swipe to make bubbles appear and float about.  Tap them to make them pop.

Wipe away the black to reveal the picture underneath.  When uncovered, the animal will reward with a quick move with sound effects.

Solve the puzzles by moving the correct picture into place.  Each correct placement gets an animal sound or name of the object.  Arrow guides as hint if having trouble.  Rewards with music when solved.  Really nice for free app.

Sing Along- 20 Nursery Rhymes
Can't really explain why she likes this app, but she does.  Familiar nursery rhymes with rudimentary moving pictures to accompany.  Sung by guy with not such great voice, British accent, and sometimes slightly different tune/words than we're used too.  There is a stop/restart button that little one enjoys using.

Animal Sounds for Baby 
Very happy looking animated creatures flash on the screen, do a move or dance, and the name is said.  Upbeat background music to accompany.  We much prefer the Play & Learn Animals listed above for the realistic depictions.  See for example this screenshot, supposedly of a bear.

Has songs with static picture and song lyrics.  May be better suited for older kid who can read to sing along?

On a related note:
For the Mac Computer
Alpha Baby
This program is WONDERFUL for when your little one sees you on the computer and insists on taking a turn with it.  This free program locks the screen so which ever key kiddo hits does something harmless and fun, such as make shapes, letters, numbers, show your photos- however you'd like you just specify in the settings.  We have it set for fun sound effects, built in voice saying the letters/numbers that are hit, and displaying recently taken photos.  Our toddler LOVES it and we love knowing our data is safe and sound while she plays.  Highly recommended.

Anyone out there got an app their child just loves to play?  Please share your recs here!


  1. Waterslide Extreme is son favorite toddlers apps. My toddler never fails to school me on this app. She is the master. I am the student.

    mobile app developers

  2. Looks like a fun game, downloading to try it out! (Nice that it's free too)

  3. I would recommend Puzzle Genius HD Animal Kingdom (for Ipad) and Puzzle Genius Animal Kingdom (for iPhone) Both $.99

    Digital version of the classic wooden puzzles for toddlers!

  4. Hi, great list of apps you have here. I would also add Cartoon ABC, an app to teach alphabet.