Phone Apps for Toddlers
I was totally that pregnant lady who was like “I’m going to make sure I don’t let my kid have a lot of screen time”. And I do my best to still keep true to my words. But let’s be honest, it’s just not possible in today’s world. There are screens everywhere, and they have a very great use. I enjoy sitting and snuggling watching a good show with my Bean. and I also enjoy that a phone app can entertain him when I’ve run out of other ideas and need a few minutes to collect myself.
Yeah, I said it, I use phone apps to entertain my toddler. What else are they for? #PhoneAppLife It isn’t my go-to entertainment source, but it is a good back up. in our RAD house.
Whether we’re driving home from the ferries and I need my toddler to stay awake until we get home, I’ll pass him the phone. Or if momma needs just a few more minutes of sleep in the morning and don’t want him to get into anything while my eyes are shut. I am sure most of us have had those moments where was pass off that electronic device to get some peace.
So here is a list of 5 RAD phone apps, for Android. I’ve only got access to the Play Store, no iTunes on my phone, and our iPad screen is broken and I dislike letting Gregory using it in case he gets sliver from the cracked screen. So if you’ve got an Apple product, I can’t help you… Yet.
YouTube for Kids
We’re big fans of YouTube in our RAD house. It’s a great way to save money, and the selection of videos for kids is abundant. But the main YouTube app isn’t oriented for Littles. Thankfully I found a YouTube for Kids app, that is catered for Littles, small to bigger sized Littles.
The app is so great because it only gives access to videos that are approved for children. When your Little opens the app they are greeted with a swipe screen that shows a picture of a video. They swipe left or right and keep swiping until they see a thumbnail of a video they’d like to watch. There are 5 categories on the main page, these are videos automatically generated to appear on your childs screen.
Recommended – Videos suggested based off of videos your child watches most
Learning – Educational videos, great for learning all sorts of things
Shows – Either from cable TV or a YouTube original production, there is a wide variety of shows your child can enjoy
Explore – Discover a story, book, more about cars, trucks or another group of objects in the world. Discover the world through video
Music – Lalalala, sing, dance and listen to child-friendly music
When you first download the app there are parental settings to set. You can choose to set a password to lock the app and prevent your child from being able to search for a specific video. It is easy to turn off if you do set it, and if YOU the parent want to quickly search for a specific video (like a bunny video because you didn’t see any on the swipe screen) you simply click the search button. This brings you to a page where you enter a 4-digit pass code, all numbers, written in letters.
Haha, did you get that? Example: five-seven-two-nine And then to unlock the search feature you must type 5729 on the screen. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The pass code is generated each time by the app, no need to remember the code.
The app is really great, it’s free, and it’s easier for children to navigate than the regular YouTube app.
This is a popular app for any parent with a Little who is obsessed with Trains. It’s free, with in app purchases if you want more than one option of train to race. Please note that I do not like paying for phone apps, the entertainment value comes and goes so quickly that it generally isn’t worth the purchase in my opinion for my family.
The free version allows you to race onlyThomas the Train against a variety of other trains in the one player mode, and against another Thomas the Train in two player mode.
The game starts by counting down 3-2-1-Go! and you’re required to tap a green button to make Thomas move forward. You’re racing against another train, first to the finish line wins. Each train has a special talent, Thomas gets a speed boost. This boost takes some time to refill, and to activate you press a small red button that sits above the green.
Each time you race and win you gain one piece of a trophy. Collect three trophy pieces to complete the trophy and win the tournament. The player one version can be fast for young toddlers who don’t grasp the concept that you need to keep playing and not stop because the computer will keep going.
The two player version allows your toddler to press and move both trains forward, and play up to 5 races in a single game. After all, it’s the first train to win 3 races for the game to be over.
Gregory loves to cheer and clap as he wins a new trophy piece, then he learns how to touch and drag an item on the screen to create his trophy. Choo-choo, I think your little will really enjoy this game. Mine does. And I do too when I join in on the two player games.
Baby Phone Games
There is only one game on this app, and it’s a phone. Opening the game my toddler is brought to a menu and he has learned to press the green button on top to start his game. It opens a screen that resembles a phone pad. He presses the numbers and they create music. Each number is a different music note.
Now, I’m unsure if once you touch a certain # of numbers (say, like, 7) that it automatically makes the phone call, or if Gregory presses the large “Call” button. Then he is greeted with a new screen that plays a fun song.
He has his favourite songs that play… one of them being wheels on the bus. I can’t tell you how many times you need to “end” the call and retry before you hear song repeats. But I do know that when a toddler wants to hear Wheels on the Bus, he’ll keep calling until he hears Wheels on the Bus. Am I preparing my son to be a cold-caller when he grows up?
Fisher Price Laugh and Learn – Learning Letters Puppy
Fisher Price has a variety of toddler apps, but only the Letters Puppy was a hit in our RAD house. Which is fine by me, because guess which kid now basically can sing along with anyone singing the alphabet? My kid! This app has gotten me through some rough bus and sky train rides. There are four activity options on the home screen.
ABC – Be introduced to each letter of the alphabet along with an something that starts with the letter. Once done, the app sings through the alphabet before showing the home screen again.
123 – Be introduced to numbers 1-10 and be shown the same number of an object or animal. Once done the app sings through the numbers and shows the home screen again.
Music – Music notes dance around and can be clicked and a song sung. Once done, you are shown the music home screen again. Songs are the Alphabet, shapes… the songs heard in this app.
Shapes – Be introduced to shapes and be shown them through a picture of something bigger. (i.e. triangle sail on sail boat, Diamond on a kite). Also be told the colour of the shape. Child must swipe to activate colour and next shape. Once done hear a short song of the shapes discovered.
This is a multi-game app each game listed below, but I have seen the games either be updated or change completely since I first downloaded. It’s free, so it has ads, but it doesn’t cause problems for us. Gregory has learned how to navigate from the game back to the home screen to select a new game without leaving the app or asking for help, so this app can be entertainment for quite some time.
To navigate back to the home screen he needs to touch the ‘back’ button on the phone once for 4 red squares to appear in the each corner of the app. Starting on #1 in the upper left and working towards #4, he turns the red squares green and ta-da, home screen.
Animal Sounds – Click onto a COW and be taken to a farm where your Little can click on a horse, cow, sheep, pig, dog or cat and hear what sound they make. Great for learning animal sounds, clearly. When I hear him in this game I often make the sound and have him say it with me, even if I’m concentrating on something else. You can’t miss a “MOO”.
Fireworks – With a city night skyline backdrop, watch fireworks… fire crackers? The firework soars into view fromt he bottom of the screen and your Little must tap it before to make it explode. There is no penatly for not tapping a firework, although there are no explosions if they don’t tap it.
Burst the Balloons – This is fun because there are four babies sitting in a nursery int he background who clap as you pop balloons, much like you pop the fireworks. They clap and cheer ‘yay’ and Gregory stops to clap and cheer ‘yay’ as well. Super cute. And keeps his interest and need for interaction with balloons at bay.
Car Sounds – By cicking on the boat in this app you are brought to screen with a rocket, airplane, boat, train, car and ambulance. Clicking each one will produce the sound they make make, just like the animal sound game before. My kid is obsessed with all things transportation, we go on trains, cars and boats all the time. We see and hear emergency vehicles, and we’ve been on an airplane. When this app is open I’m sure to hear my son tell me all about our Airplane adventure.
Peek-a-Boo – Play peek-a-boo with 4 children. Simple, straight forward, a Little favourite.
Whack-A-Mole – Click the mole as it pops up in one of the six mole holes. When you hit the mole a fun sound happens. When you miss a mole he disappears and laughs. There is no penalty for missing a mole.
This app has ads, they are annoying. But as I said, I can’t be bothered to buy the app because Gregory’s fascination with apps comes and goes just as quickly as my fascination with apps. We have short attention spans and can also go weeks without opening an app until I ultimately realize that we won’t be playing it anytime soon and delete it.
Letting the Child Be in Control
There are 5 RAD Android phone apps we use in our house. I’ve gone through so many, the struggle to find a quality app that holds my childs attention is difficult. Some apps just aren’t interactive enough, some are too advanced for him. These apps require just enough participation from him with the perfect amount of options.
Gregory gets to make the choices, he gets to be the decider of how things are going to happen. He is in control. Everyone likes feeling in control. Even Littles. Give them control, by way of picking which game to play on the phone… when you allow them to play on it.
Most phones have multiple screens that you store your apps on, you swipe left or right until you get to the app you need. And when you press a home button it takes you to one main screen filled with apps. Know what I’m sayin’? Make that screen the kids app screen.
That is what I’ve done and now when Gregory sees my phone sitting on the table and he looks at me with a smile and question in his eyes, I simply need to say “Sure”. Gregory then picks up my phone, presses the button on the side to turn on the screen and touches to go ‘home’ and is brought to all his favourite games, all on his own.
I have no intention on letting my child be alienated from technology. Not when he is growing up in a world of technology. We are at the start of the technology era still, my son is going to grow up with it evolving so fast that I’m not going to be able to keep up with it. Much like how my parents and elders struggle to keep up with it sometimes. I’m already struggling to keep up myself now! Gosh, that happens fast when you have kids.
I like the idea of allowing my son to learn how to use a phone, and he’s also learned to ask my permission before just playing on it. By giving him the freedom to choose how he plays, and letting him discover how to use the phone I know he isn’t going to fall behind and feel like a neanderthal in the age of robots.
I am nervous for the day he wants to start using the phone more, and can effectively use the phone at his will. Searching and downloading to meet his needs. But I’m not there yet. I’m in the safe zone. And I can use this time to teach him how to have a healthy relationship with technology.
It can be used for fun, entertainment, connecting with people by conversing, and to learn on. Each of these apps manage to cover these grounds and prepare my son with educational and fun content.
Let me know which apps you let your toddler use. I’m always installing new ones and find myself disappointed. I know there are more out there that are good, send them my way. Sharing is caring. Phone apps, that’s what we’re playing with at our RAD house today.