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My son loves playing with my smartphone. Those toy phones that light up and sing just won’t do for his growing mind and he’s a very curious kid. While we try not to use our phones when we’re around him, he does see us use it from time to time. He loves swiping, tapping, and watching videos. He wants to mimic what we do, so I needed some age appropriate apps that would help his development and give me ten minutes to do the dishes.
Please note, he may get 10 minutes of app time a day at most. At least in those ten minutes, I’d like for him to learn something instead of thinking the phone is a good way to waste time. We also use the apps on long car rides to New York. They’re a life saver and a screaming-toddler-for-six-hours saver. You’ve never experienced hell unless your child has screamed for five hours straight and a simple app or video could have fixed the issue. Gone are the times of “My kid can only have this many hours of screen time” when a long car ride is on the table.
Here’s my short and sweet list of the best free apps for toddlers available on your smartphone that we have used a lot over the past couple months.
Fisher Price Apps
You have the pick of the litter here on which app you want. I counted 22 Fisher Price apps available in the Google Play store including Spanish and Mandarin versions of the most popular ones available! That’s a lot of toddler friendly entertainment. Our favorites are Learning Letters Puppy and Storybook Rhymes. I help him with the games in the app and he really enjoys working together with me. Another great one is “Where’s Puppy’s Nose?” if you want to teach your little about body parts in a fun and technology friendly way! These apps are great for your littles.
Lego DUPLO Apps
My son is starting to get into legos and building, so I downloaded an app called Lego DUPLO Trains for him. There are four other Lego DUPLO apps, but our go-to is Trains. We drive the train from station to station, refueling and learning along the way. The only downside that I have found is hitting “Back” goes all the way to the back of the beginning of the game. While my son is not at the age of being frustrated by this, I can see an older child not being happy with this part of the app.
My First Words Apps
I love these apps. There are four that I know of – First Words, Animals, Foods, and Vehicles. Ri loves the Animals apps. You pick a section and the app will pop up flash cards saying what’s on the card and a sound if available. This app has changed diaper changes. He’ll laugh at Puppy and Kitten without trying to turn his way off the changing table. With the free version, you do get ads, so it might be wise to turn your phone into Airplane mode.
Mom Hack: Turn your phone into Airplane Mode! You’ll get rid of those pesky ads and won’t have your child typing some wacky Facebook status for you.
Ri is really into music lately and this free piano is a lot of fun for him. He likes creating the music! You can record the music your child makes and play it back for them. Ri loves dancing to his own tunes. Be warned, this may not be the best if you’ve had a long day or headache. Unless you child is a piano playing genius, it’ll be a lot of noise.
PBS Kids Video App
All of our favorite shows in one app, one 15 minute episode at a time. This is another app I use when I have a diaper change to take care of and don’t want my son flopping his way onto the floor. It updates fairly often, but on the weekends it’ll be a repeat episode. It’s good to know that this is for things you need to get done quickly while keeping your child occupied for a few minutes. Not good for long car rides, but will work in a pinch.
I do believe we should use technology to our kids advantage. While it’s great to keep him occupied for a few minutes, I also want to expand his mind and see technology as a way to have fun and learn. In our ever growing technology world, our children will have access and know more about all available technology than we ever did. It’s great to limit, but to also use to your advantage.
Do you have any favorite apps? I only listed my go-to apps. I’m always looking to swap some out and try something new.