For parents who need help keeping their little ones calm while you can get stuff done around the house, gentle TV shows for kids might be your best friend. Because, hey, sometimes you need something that is sort of soothing,
something that might calm your kids down rather than rev them up or get them overexcited. And fortunately, given Care Bears, Franklin, and more, there's a whole slew of options available for parents and caregivers who just want the kids to chill out for a bit. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,
Watching television might not be top of mind for everyone, but for parents
trying to keep little kids entertained while they're trying to work or get the laundry done, it's certainly a useful tool they can employ. Of course, all television is not the same, just like not all children are the same. Some little ones might really benefit from television that is gentle in every way. From the theme of the show to the voices to the color scheme, some shows are designed to really soothe kids while also keeping them interested.
In other words, these shows are basically magic. And if you're a caregiver, you might really need them in your life.
Care Bears Care Bears was a massive feel-good phenomenon in the '80s, and right now seems like as good a time as any to bring them back into kids' lives. There’s nothing quite like the experience of finding the bear that speaks best to you, whether that’s Cheer Bear (who always ends up being everyone’s favorite), Tenderheart Bear, Funshine Bear, or even Grumpy Bear if you’re having a day of it. Kids have been picking their favorite bear for decades, and there’s even a sweet series on Netflix called Care Bears & Cousins that will give kids an updated version of the original, plus other care animals to adore. Rent the original series now on Amazon Prime Video or watch Care Bears & Cousins on Netflix. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is another sweet show about a young tiger whose family and friends all treat each other with respect and kindness. The show is based on the original Daniel Striped Tiger from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, so there's even a bit of a nostalgic element to the show. While the show tends to be incredibly calming and soothing, there’s a lot more to love about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood than just that. The show features diverse families and helps kids figure out how to deal with everyday problems with common sense and thoughtfulness. Watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids or Amazon Prime. Franklin Franklin the turtle lives in a forest neighborhood with his family, goes on sweet adventures with his pal Bear, and generally lives in a simple time that kids will be sure to enjoy. The best thing about Franklin is the fact that his days are filled with regular, small adventures that little kids will be able to relate to in a real way. They can watch him learning how to skateboard, consider a new pet, and even have a bad day. And let’s not forget there are with your kids as a perfect, calm tie-in. Franklin books you can read Watch the first season of Franklin on Amazon Prime or Apple TV+. The Smurfs The Smurfs have seen a resurgence since its heydey in the ‘80s and for good reason. Every tiny Smurf has a purpose and a way to help out the community, where there's always a happy ending and some light humor on offer. Yes sure, the kids will have to worry about Gargamel invading the Smurfs’ adorable little blue village and there might even be a question or two about why there is exactly one Smurf woman named Smurfette, but ultimately the show is pretty relaxing. It started out as a Belgian comic strip called Les Schtrompfs in 1958, and we’re all still cheering for the little blue people living in their mushroom-shaped houses to this day. Watch full episodes of The Smurfs on HBO Max. Puffin Rock
Little puffin Oona and her baby brother Baba live the sweet life on
Puffin Rock, the Irish series where they learn about family, nature, and have safe adventures that are calming to the eye. Plus the accents of voice actors like Chris O’Dowd, who most of us remember as the Irish cop from Bridesmaids, and young Kate McCafferty (the voice of Oona) are truly tonic for the weary soul. Everyone knows the Irish are natural born storytellers, and Puffin Rock is proof of that. There’s a bit of light humor, enough so that even parents will find themselves delighting in the series, and it’s such a good-natured show you can’t help but like it. Watch Puffin Rock on Netflix. Tumble Leaf Tumble Leaf is also nature-themed, with bright happy colors and a slow, gently pace for kids who might want to learn a little science with Fig the Fox. The series started in 2014 and features stop-motion animation, a type of animation that seems to keep kids incredibly calm and focused when they’re watching it. Tumble Leaf is one of those shows that aims to teach kids about the world around them without hitting them over the head with it. Almost like a little secret lesson wrapped up in a pleasant television series. Maybe it’s the fun friendship of Fig and his caterpillar friend Stick or the island setting, but . Tumble Leaf has proven to be very soothing Watch Tumble Leaf on Amazon Prime. Lily's Driftwood Bay
Think a day of exploring on the beach sounds relaxing? Of course you do but do you know what’s even better than packing the kids in the car and heading to the beach where everything will get covered in sand and someone will definitely end up crying? Sitting down for an episode of
Lily’s Driftwood Bay. This series features a little girl who spends her days wandering the beach with her animal pals looking for natural treasures on her imaginary beach. Also this Northern Irish series features special guest appearances from big stars like legendary Dolly Parton, who voices Noleen Hen, an American singer/songwriter who washes up on the shore of Driftwood Bay. Watch Lily’s Driftwood Bay on Amazon Prime. Peppa Pig
Peppa Pig can be a bit saucy at times. Particularly if you happen to be Daddy Pig since he seems to get the brunt of her dark humor. And yes, it can sometimes feel like there will never be any escape from and all of our children will start speaking with posh little British accents. But let’s face it; kids just love the show. The design aesthetic of the wildly popular British series about a young pig is very relaxing. And the stories tend to move along at an easy pace for kids to follow. Peppa Pig Watch Peppa Pig on Hulu, Paramount+, and the official . Peppa Pig YouTube channel The Book of Pooh
Winnie the Pooh is perhaps one of the most calming characters in children's literature, and for good reason. The AA Milne character is always a bit sleepy, a bit relaxed, a bit focused on getting his hands on a honey pot and snacking and then possibly napping. He and his pals Tigger, Piglet, Eyore, and Christopher Robin go on a whole new set of adventures in
The Book of Pooh, and if you really want your kids to feel extra cozy why not get them a Winnie the Pooh stuffie to cuddle while they watch the show? That’s the benefit of watching The Book of Pooh; it’s a mainstay that will have you curling up with your kids, maybe reading them a Winnie the Pooh story, and of course there’s Pooh’s soothing voice to lull everyone into a little meditation. Watch The Book of Pooh on Disney+. Beat Bugs
The music of the Beatles sung by sweet little bugs who are also best friends and amazing performers? Yes please.
Beat Bugs is beautiful to look at, charming, and best of all, musical. Seriously musical. Not only does it feature the music of the Beatles sung by five charming, child-like bugs, there’s also some serious star power going into those performances. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Sia, Chris Cornell, and Pink all offered their voice talents to the show. Beyond the music, the five bugs learn life lessons together. It’s a seriously sweet show with a recognizable beat. Watch Beat Bugs on Netflix. Adventures Of Gummi Bears
Another blast from the past,
Adventures of Gummi Bears tells the story of a young hero who helps find a lost colony of Gummi Bears. I don’t know if it’s the old-fashioned animation with muted colors, or the medieval-looking outfits worn by the Gummi Bears, but there is something almost hypnotic about this series. Maybe it’s the fact that they are, indeed, Gummi Bears and taste delicious when they are not starring in their own animated television series. Not as calm as some other choices, but gentle and sweet all the same. Watch Adventures of Gummi Bears on Disney+. Julie's Greenroom
Julie Andrews teaches kids, puppets called "the Greenies," all about how to put on a musical performance, from how instruments work to how the importance of working together with a little help from some of her famous friends.
Julie’s Greenroom will have you wishing Julie Andrews was your teacher too because her class looks like so much fun. And best of all, like the rest of the shows on this list, Julie's Greenroom is gentle. Easy to watch. Exactly what kids and parents might need for a calm afternoon. Watch Julie’s Greenroom on Netflix Jr. Arthur
Arthur Reade and his pals have officially wrapped things up after 25 seasons. But instead of being sad that such a funny, sweet, relaxing kids’ show has ended, be glad that you can still watch so many seasons with your own kid. Rediscover the sass of DW, the sweetness of Buster Bunny, the daring of Francine, and just the general fun-loving life these friends lead together. Arthur tackles bigger kid problems sometimes, but the show really focuses on being kind, inclusive, and curious. Plus if you start watching with your kid now you can see what happens when the gang grows up. Watch Arthur on PBS Kids. Clangers
One of the most amazing things about the show
Clangers is that it keeps kids entranced without any real dialogue. This reboot of a popular British kids’ series focuses instead on seeing its characters communicate through whistles and other sounds while narrator William Shatner explains what they are trying to say. So it’s almost like he’s reading your kids a little story in his oddly soothing voice. Again, Clangers uses stop-motion animation which tends to be one of the gentler forms of animation for kids, and the effect is quite hypnotic. Watch Clangers on YouTube. Zenimation
In 2020, Disney introduced a new show called
Zenimation, tailor-made to help parents and kids stay calm and relax. The concept is simple; Disney has gone through its massive library of animated favorites to find the most relaxing, calming, Zen-like moments for kids and parents who might need a little break. Without words, mind you. So you can watch scenes from The Little Mermaid or Frozen with just the sound of water running in the first five minute episode called “Water” for example. There are 10 short episodes and one 50-minute episode, all of which are designed to encourage peace and mindfulness. Genius. Watch Zenimation on Disney+.
At the end of the day, curling up with your little one to watch a gentle TV show is basically like meditation for you both. A bit of quiet, easy, sweet distraction that will leave you both feeling comforted instead of checked out. Relaxed instead of overstimulated. And most importantly, these shows will hopefully help your kid wind down instead of wind up. That’s the sweet spot right there.
This article was originally published on
May 3, 2020