Finding a new show to share with your littles can be a struggle when you’re sick of hearing the same theme song countless times per day. But I’m here to offer some of the best shows for 2-year-olds. Whatever your toddler is into at this exploratory stage, something on this list is sure to peak their interest.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when determining what makes for “good toddler TV;” but things like educational value, watch-ability, and representation in media are good places to start.
In her popular book,
Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids , in a Screen-Filled World Angela Santomero — creator of such shows like Blue’s Clues, Super Why! and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, all of which you will find on this list — describes good kids’ TV like making a smoothie, according to HuffPost. “With a green smoothie, you’ve got the greens, the protein, and the sweets,” she wrote. “With a high-quality preschool show, you’ve got education (the greens), interaction (the protein), and engagement (the sweets).”
Ultimately, it comes down to taste and, let’s be honest, what parents can tolerate
streaming with their kids. But if you’re looking for a good “green smoothie” of a show for your kids, these are a great place to start. Bluey
There are endless
reasons to love Bluey , but the presence of active parents engaging in play-based parenting is definitely at the top of this list. Parents and children alike enjoy watching the show, and your family is sure to feel the same.
In a previous interview with Romper,
Bluey executive producers Charlie Aspinwall and Daley Pearson explained that the show is relatable because it shares an honest view of childhood.
"At the core of every
Bluey story is a game, which is at least inspired by the everyday experiences of bringing up and playing with our kids," they told Romper by email. "The thing young kids love to do best is play. To them it's as natural as breathing — it's how they explore and understand their world. We've tried to capture that and recreate those extended games, which can make vivid, surreal, and often very funny stories, especially when adults are dragged into the mix." Watch it on Disney+. Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins is jam-packed with inspirational characters of color; from a little girl with big dreams of becoming a doctor, to her mom who is an actual doctor and treats an array of issues — your kids are going to be incredibly inspired. As a bonus, littles will learn a thing or two about facing their fears over the doctor! Watch on Disney Now. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Much like the nostalgic classic
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the animated series from the same production company dives deep into experiencing and expressing emotions in a healthy way. Your children will learn important lessons about emotional intelligence alongside title character Daniel Tiger. Sid the Science Kid
Another brilliant creation from The Jim Henson Co., the company behind
Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid follows a kid named — you guessed it, Sid — as he spends his days trying to discover the answers to scientific questions while working on his career as a stand-up comedian. With a mix of animation and puppetry, the show is both engaging and educational. Watch it on PBS Kids. Blue’s Clues
Another classic that millennial parents are likely all too familiar with,
Blue’s Clues still has plenty to offer the younger generation. From simple problem solving to the importance of asking for help from friends, that little blue puppy and pals will keep your kids engaged. Watch on Sling TV. Vampirina
While the characters in this show are a bit older than two years old, it’s perfect for kids who love all things Halloween. And it also offers important messages about embracing your differences and accepting your friends for theirs. This is an important lesson for rising pre-schoolers, and your kids will get lots of it from Vampirina and friends.
Watch on Disney Now. Little Einsteins
If you’re looking for something educational,
Little Einsteins is an obvious choice. Watch on Disney+. Bubble Guppies
Another show that is centered around learning and exploration,
Bubble Guppies will give your toddler a sneak peek into what school will be like for them. While they may not go to class under the sea, they will form relationships with their teachers and learn alongside their friends. Watch on Hulu. Paw Patrol
With their motto of "no job is too big, no pup is too small," the rescue pups will teach your kids that everyone has something to offer and can achieve great things through teamwork.
Watch on Hulu. Sofia the First
Thrust into a new life completely opposite to what she has known, Sofia learns lessons about remaining true to herself regardless of the situation — something I would love for my own daughter to know at an early age. All of the princess storylines will also appeal to your Elsa-loving little ones.
Watch on Netflix. Dora the Explorer
Along with some conversational Spanish, Dora and Boots will teach your children about following instructions and being brave in potentially frightening circumstances.
Watch on Sling TV. Llama Llama
Little Llama can be a bit of a brat from time to time if I’m being honest. But by the end of each episode, he has learned something about himself and life. And with differently-abled friends balancing out the group, there is a nice message of inclusion underlying the simple storylines.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again
If there’s anyone who can teach your kids about the wonders of science in an enjoyable way, it’s your old friend Ms. Frizzle.
Watch on Netflix. Creative Galaxy Creative Galaxy follows Arty and his sidekick Epiphany, as they travel the galaxy working to solve problems with art. Creativity is definitely encouraged in this show, and your kids will be reminded of the important purpose that art and creating serve in this world and beyond. Watch on Amazon Prime. True and the Rainbow Kingdom
True is a free spirit and an individual, using her differences to serve her kingdom every day. This 8-year-old heroine will encourage your kids to put their differences to use to better the world around them.
From the creator of shows like
Blue’s Clues and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, this fun show tells the tales of four fairytale friends as they grow in their literacy and explore the world around them. On their many adventures, your kids will learn to read along with them and enjoy the fun stories told in the process. Watch it on PBS Kids. Timmy Time
Viewers meet Timmy as he’s preparing to head to school for the first time. If your kids are preparing to start daycare, preschool, or anything in between; they will relate to both his preparation and anxieties around the topic.
Watch it on Netflix. ABC Galaxy
If you’re working on the alphabet with your kids in preparation for school, this show is perfect for helping that process along.
Watch on Tubi. Dinosaur Train
While aboard the “Dinosaur Train,” your preschooler will learn all about natural science, natural history, and paleontology. These lessons may just spark a life-long interest in the fields.
Watch for free on PBS Kids or Amazon Prime. Tumble Leaf
In this sweet show, a little blue fox named Fig and his group of friends use their adventures to learn the way things work in life. Your kids will learn the inner workings of our world along with them.
Watch on Amazon Prime. Word Party
Bailey, Franny, Kip, and Lulu are four adorable baby animals ready to kick your child’s vocabulary and verbal skills into overdrive. Your kids will learn so many new words watching this silly show that you won’t be able to keep up.
Watch on Netflix. Elinor Wonders Why
Elinor is a curious little bunny who sets out to learn the answers to a medley of questions beginning with the word “why.” With the help of her friends Ari, a bat, and Olive, an elephant, she will help your children answer these pressing questions as well. With a diversely voiced cast of characters, these pals will resonate with your children.
Watch on PBS Kids. Kazoops! Blast off with Kazoops! Kazoops! Official/YouTube
Another animated preschool series, this show encourages children to rethink the ways in which adults navigate the world. Through highly active imaginations, children can rewrite reality and make the changes they feel need to be made. This sort of world-changing sense of self is just what the next generation needs to get them inspired to change the world for the better.
Watch on Netflix. Pocoyo Pocoyo has to be one of the least irritating kids’ shows that I have experienced in my three years of toddler parenting. The simple storylines and white background allow your toddler to focus on one aspect of the story at a time, and Stephen Fry’s calming voice is a bonus for parents sick of voices that grate on your nerves. Watch it on Netflix.
With all of the pressure surrounding screen time and developing toddlers’ brains, parents may feel understandably pressed to make sure their viewing habits lend themselves to growth. But with shows like the ones on this list, parents can rest assured that their kids are getting something from their time in front of the tube.