try to limit your child’s screen time, but once in a while, you just need to hand your phone over to your kid in exchange for a few minutes of sanity. These 20 best iPhone apps for toddlers are entertaining and educational. They'll keep your little one occupied — and maybe help them learn their ABCs, too.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children ages 2 and older have “
no more than one hour or less per day of high-quality programming,” according to the site. And while a screen should never be a substitute for positive parental interaction, there are plenty of apps that can assist in teaching your tot about shapes, animal, engineering, and more. To be honest, they'll probably keep your child more engaged, too. Once you and your child are familiar with an app, you might even find that you're able to steal a couple minutes to do something productive, like unload the dishwasher or make a cup of coffee.
Some cost a few dollars, or offer in-app purchases, but many are (thankfully) free. Still, forking over a few bucks for freedom, quiet — and some early ed instruction? Priceless.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Goodness Shapes
For little learners who are beginning to study shapes,
Goodness Shapes is ideal. Kids will learn shape recognition, patterns, and matching in this gentle program that adults might also find utterly relaxing. And woot, there are no in-app purchases or third-party advertising anywhere in the app. 2 Canticos
Through sing-along videos, games, coloring pages, and more,
Canticos's bilingual preschool app exposes young toddlers to the basics of Spanish. Their adorable content, Kidscreen-nominated for Best Learning App is designed for children between the ages of 2-5, and there's plenty of downloadable games to keep little ones entertained offline as well. The app comes with a free 7-day trial to test drive the program. Afterwards, membership costs $6.99 a month or $57.99 a year for unlimited access to their regularly updated content. 3 ABCmouse
From reading and math, to social studies and science,
ABCmouse offers instruction for children ages 2-8. It has a standards-based curriculum that was created by early learning education experts, and has over 850 lessons, 10 levels, and over 10,000 individual learning activities. The app has metrics that allow you to track your child’s progress, and also offers loads of videos, puzzles, games, and printables to make learning fun. 4 PBS Kids Video
You’ll find everything that you know (and love) from the TV station on
PBS Kids Video. Not only can your child watch their fave shows (think Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, SUPER WHY!, and Sesame Street), but they can also see brand new videos every Friday. The app is free, and doesn’t require a login or subscription to watch. 5 Sago Mini Friends
When an in-person playdate just isn’t an option, your child can always have a virtual one with the
Sago Mini Friends app. Ideal for ages 2-4, kids can visit a friend, play dress up, have a snack — even help build a birdhouse. You can play the app without WiFi, and allows your child to learn fundamental skills such as sharing and being a good friend. 6 Fish School – 123 ABC for Kids
free aquatically-themed app for toddlers has eight activities to help kids learn and explore. In addition to learning letters, colors, shapes, and numbers, your child can even learn how to count from 1-20. The fish swim around to form shapes, letters, and numbers to inspire even more learning. 7 Toca Doctor
Your child can get a crash course in human anatomy, thanks to
Toca Doctor. Designed to let your child be doctor for a day, your mini medical expert will get to examine a patient to see what ails them. There are 21 puzzles and games to play, all of which take place inside a human body. As your child learns about germs, it can be a great learning opportunity to teach them the importance of hand hygiene. 8 Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
Get your little monkey excited about their ham and cheese sammie with this cute iPhone app.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox allows your child to spruce up their counting, shapes, matching, and sorting skills as they help pack a lunch for the adorable monkey in the app. And when the monkey only wants fruit that starts with the letter S, for example, your child will be right there to help. The app even gives your child reward stickers for a job well done. 9 LEGO DUPLO Connected Train
All aboard! Tots who love trains will adore this
free app from LEGO. Not only will your kiddo commandeer a train down the tracks, but they’ll also get to speed it up (or slow it down), put on the headlights, and honk the horn. And by adding action bricks, your child can create even more exciting new adventures. 10 The Wheels on the Bus
Wheels on the Bus app puts your child in the driver’s seat — literally. With just a touch, your child can make the bus’ wheels go faster or slower, and they can open and close the doors to let on passengers. And just like the lyrics go, your kiddo can even make the wipers go “swish swish swish” and help the driver to get the passengers to “move on back.” Your child can even record their voice as they sing along to this childhood classic. 11 Hungry Caterpillar Play School
If your child is a bookworm, then they’re going to love
Hungry Caterpillar Play School. They can learn the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters, discover shapes and colors, and even begin understanding the process of sequencing shapes and sizes. Games and songs are age-appropriate in this sweet, gentle app designed for kids ages 2-6. And of course, there are animal characters based off of author Eric Carle’s books throughout the app. It's free to download, but there are in-app purchases. 12 Moo, Baa, La La La!
“A cow says MOO. A sheep says BAA. Three singing pigs say La La La!” If your child is a fan of the super popular
Sandra Boynton board book, they’ll love this cute app. Kids can make the book come to life by touching the animals to hear them moo, baa, oink — and more. There are other colorful creatures, such as a chicken stagehand, dancing pigs, and a team of ducks. 13 Starfall ABCs
ABCs have never been easier to learn than with this colorful app from the nonprofit organization Starfall. Your child can learn their letters (and the sounds they make) through games and other activities that are meant to encourage engaged learning. The free app can create the building blocks towards helping your child discover their love of reading. 14 Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame
Sure, there are a slew of programs that can help teach your child the ABCs and 123s. But what about emotional health?
Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame helps children learn how to deal with everyday struggles, and problem-solve in a way to reduce stress and feel better. The “Breathe with the Monster” activity shows children how deep breathing can calm them down when they're upset. 15 Duckie Deck Collection
Developing healthy habits is the objective of
Duckie Deck Collection. Not only will your child learn the importance of picking up their toys, but they’ll also master how to take care of their pets, and even how to not be so scared of the dark. And with its goal for establishing good eating habits, the app might (just might) get your picky eater to like their veggies. 16 Baby’s Musical Hands Baby’s Musical Hands allows your tot to create a concert just by using their delicious little digits. Featuring 15 colored squares that represent drums, piano, and guitar, your child can touch to score a symphony. And as they touch the screen, colorful stars appear as they make musical magic. For a buck, your little one can feel like Beethoven. 17 Baby Coloring Book For Kids
Your mini Matisse won’t even realize that they’re coloring without crayons when they play with this cute app. With eight different topics that have 120 pages to color,
Baby Coloring Book For Kids encourages your child to use logic to figure out how to color in certain shapes. Cute characters and fun sounds make coloring an entirely new (and educational) experience. 18 GoNoodle
You can make movement a priority with the
free GoNoodle app. With over 300 dance videos and yoga exercises, your toddler will be moving their tush in no time. There are also mindfulness activities that can allow them to relax at the end of the day that you can do together. It doesn’t require WiFi, and videos can be played anywhere. 19 Montessorium: Intro To Math
What it lacks in color and cuteness, the
Montessorium app definitely makes up for in math lessons. Kids can learn not just how to read and write numbers from zero to nine, but also gain an understanding of what they actually mean. Plus, they’ll learn problem-solving skills and gain insight into the difference between odd and even numbers. 20 Toonia Colorbook
Coloring has never been cooler than with
Toonia Colorbook. It has 160 coloring pages in 20 themes for your child to choose from. But instead of having only a couple of colors to draw with, there are over 100 shades and hues to make your child’s picture pop. Best part: kids can color any which way that they want — coloring outside the lines is definitely encouraged. 21 Tozzle – Toddler’s Favorite Puzzle
You won’t ever have to hunt for missing puzzle pieces again with
Tozzle. There are over 40 puzzles to choose from, all of which encourage hand-eye coordination and shape identification. There are cute sound effects and animations as your child plays with the puzzles. The app is available in English, German, Spanish, and French, and doesn’t have any in-app purchases.