Running from the Law: Favorite Apps for Toddlers - 12-16 Months

Monday, September 30, 2013

Favorite Apps for Toddlers - 12-16 Months

When I mentioned last week that Mac is really starting to like the iPad, I got a couple emails asking for recommendations for our favorite apps.  I figured there are probably other moms out there looking for toddler-friendly apps for their kids too, so I put together a list of Mac's favorite apps.  I am not claiming that any of these are educational or will teach your kid anything (some of them are just downright stupid and/or obnoxious), but Mac seems to love them!  These are toddler-approved and have worked at entertaining our little one (even if it's just for a minute or two before insisting we go back OUTSIDE!).  

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Play at Home - Mac is just now getting into this one.  Now that he understands his nighttime routine (brush, books, lights out, etc.) he loves helping Daniel go to bed.  And he likes the music portion of the app, but only for a few minutes.  I think he'll really start to like this one more over the next few months.
Peek-A-Zoo: Toddler Peekaboo at the Zoo - We absolutely love all the versions of this app (Peek-A-Zoo Train, Peek-A-Zoo Underwater, etc.).  They are a little pricey (at $3 each), but worth it, in my opinion.  Mac has played them all to death and loves them.  Easy for little hands to operate since he loves tapping on the screen repeatedly.  It's also helped him learn animal sounds and become familiar with lots of different animals.  There are free "Lite" versions of these too, but the full versions are much better.
Forest Flyer - This is one of Mac's absolute favorites.  Not really educational or anything, but he loves making the bird fly around and do funny things.  She sings and dances and swims.  She also burps and farts, which is totally inappropriate and totally HILARIOUS to a toddler.  He cracks up and has her do it again and again and laughs hysterically.
Kids Construction Vehicles - This is the most popular app we have right now.  Mac will play this over and over and over.  This one has 10+ different construction vehicles, with narration telling you what each one does.  There are actions each vehicle does when you tap on it and it identifies different parts of each vehicle.  The narrator (Truck Driver Jeff) is horribly obnoxious (you can turn him off), but Mac loves him.  My husband now imitates the voice around the house while he's doing things, which is hilarious.
Peekaboo Barn - This app started it all.  This was the very first app he really got into around 12 months.  He loves tapping on the screen and watching the animals appear.  He loves the noises.  It's a great classic app that I don't think he'll outgrow anytime soon.  
Kids Vehicles: City Trucks & Buses - This is the city version of the Construction Vehicles app (above). Different vehicles, same obnoxious narrator.  Mac LOVES it.
There's a Lion in My Backyard! - Ryan is convinced that I downloaded this one to teach Mac how to speak with an adorable British accent.  Although that's not quite true, I wouldn't mind if Mac started talking like this because it's so stinking cute.  This app also has great illustrations and cute animals to find.  We love this one.
The Wheels on the Bus - This app does it all.  There's a free "lite" version, but it's worth it to buy the full version so you get the full song and all the games.  There's a matching game, a train, puzzles, driving game,  math game, coloring book, etc.  The whole app is bright and loud and will give you a giant headache after a few minutes, but Mac is obsessed with it.
PBS Kids - I think this might be the greatest app ever made.  It's totally free and (as long as you have a wifi connection, you can watch all your favorite PBS Kids shows.  Over 1,000 videos of Curious George, Daniel Tiger, Cat in the Hat, Super Why, etc. Mac is still not all that interested in just watching a show (he wants to touch the screen and interact too much right now), but I think he'll really love this one in a few months (once he has more of an attention span). Right now we do play the intro song to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood a hundred times a day.
Peekaboo Fridge - Similar to the Peek-A-Zoo and Peekaboo Barn app (above).  This one goes through all kinds of food items.  There's a dance party at the end and then you put them all to bed, which Mac loves.
Moo Baa La La La! - We love the book, we love the app.  I hate the narrator (so boring), but Mac doesn't seem to mind.  It's great because you can touch each word to hear it and touch the illustrations to make all the animals on the pages move.  
Toddler Jukebox - I love this app.  It's got tons of classic kid-friendly songs like Row Your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle, Bingo, Old MacDonald, Farmer in the Dell, Working on the Railroad, Wheels on the Bus, Miss Mary Mack, If You're Happy and You Know It, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, ABCs, Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc. Mac loves the songs, although it's hard to keep him from pressing all the buttons and pausing the song or changing them.  This one's great to just put on and then lock the screen and listen.
Fisher-Price - Laugh & Learn Animal Sounds - This app is adorable.  It has two different versions, one with just the animal and their noise, followed by a song.  And the other tells you information about each animal and then they send another song.  It's cute - I find myself singing the songs all day long. 
Free Animal Sounds - Tons of animals, tons of variety, tons of fun.  You can sort by different categories (farm, dessert, jungle, ocean, insect, etc.). Mac loves this one.
Watch Disney Jr. - Disney on demand.  Similar to the PBS Kids app (above), Mac is going to love this in a few months, once he "discovers" shows (maybe...hopefully).
Drum Kit - Not necessarily a kid's app, but it makes great noise and Mac can bang the shit out of it and sound like a rockstar.  Ryan has Mac play the drums while he's playing the guitar and they sound like a two-man band.  (Where's my tamborine?)
Kid Car, Trucks and Construction Vehicles Puzzles - Perfect for little fingers learning how to drag the puzzle pieces where they should go.  When you finish each puzzle, you get to pop balloons (the best part, obviously).
If You're Happy and You Know It - By the same people as The Wheels on the Bus app (above), it's cute illustrations, catchy songs and Mac LOVES it.  After this weekend, I am so over this one and am considering deleting it from the iPad because I can't handle it any more (that's how much he likes it).
Bubbles - Touch the screen to make bubbles.  Touch the bubbles to pop them.  Genius.  So simple and so entertaining.

So that's my round-up. 

What apps do your little ones love?


  1. this post is just amazing to me! Thank you for all the detail and commentary too - really helps! We just got back from a weekend trip with my little man who is 14 months old and I would have loved to have some of these. He's super interested in the iPad, but like your guy, not so much in watching shows and wants to play. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

  2. This is awesome!!! I've been looking for a list like this and obviously trust your opinion more so than a random website. Thanks for putting this together!!! xo

  3. I'm so glad you posted (and pinned) this! I've been looking for more apps for D. Right now he's obsessed with the "Things that go" app:

    Can't wait to try some of these!

  4. This is great! We haven't gotten into apps much yet, but I know O would LOVE a bunch of these! Pinning, for sure! Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

  5. We love the PBS Kids app, too! But, obviously I'm going to spend the rest of the morning downloading all your suggestions.
    We also LOVE the Little Fox Music Box app. It cost a couple bucks, but it's totally worth it.

  6. LOVE this! I'm going to check out several of these VERY soon! We try to limit Elyse's overall "screen" time but the iPad is great for those mornings when I'm trying to get around without a two year old underfoot!

  7. Moment you can only relate to if you have Peek A Boo Barn: This morning, half awake in bed, I hand Ford my iPhone. He launches Peek A Boo Barn and starts tapping. Brian leaps out of bed, "DID YOU HEAR HIM SAY PEEK A BOO?!" No, honey, just the app.

  8. This list is awesome! Thanks so much for creating this for moms like me who only use the iPad for episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants. The iPad just became so much more kid friendly :)

  9. I am definitely going to check these out. One of Avery's favorites is Peek a Zoo.

  10. I've been contemplating getting an iPad, but since my little girl only wants to hit the Home button I feel like it would be just as boring to her as an iPhone. The home button only does so much. Haha. Is there a "mode" to turn on when I let her play with it? Any thoughts?

    1. Yes, you can turn on "Guided Access" which disables the swipe/tap/home button so they're stuck in the app of your choosing. There a few different ways to set it up when you triple click the home button. You can do the whole screen or just part of it. You can do swipe and/or tap. You have to have a password to disable. So far it works great for Mac. Also, we have the Fisher-Price childproof case for the iPad, which makes it really hard for him to hit the home button to get out of an app.

    2. Here's a tutorial for setting up guided access:

  11. Um, I like the peekaboo at the zoo one too. Because I am a child.

  12. Awesome. We were just looking or some new apps for Taylor. In fact, I have an entire iPad post in my head a brewing.

    We have the Wheels on the Bus app and Taylor does love it. There is a 5 Little Monkeys app that is very similar to the Wheels on the Bus app that Taylor loves too, if Mac is looking for a little more variety.

    The other one I'd recommend is the Endless Alphabet. Educational, fun and adorable!!

  13. I would definitely recommend Color Band (ipad only). You can draw and play music. Highly recommend. They have this cute little lullabee guy that talks. Max just wants to watch the tutorial to listen to Lullabee.

  14. I have a nexus 7 tablet and my son loves it. I downloaded a lot of free games from the google store. My son is 3 and he is obsessed with angry birds! He also loves all of the cooking apps. He makes/decorates cupcakes, donuts, pizza, hamburgers, etc!

  15. I've been looking for a post like this for awhile! Noah is loving our iPad and all he has now is the Disney Jr. app to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on and Giggle Gang, which he gets bored with now. Going to download some of these now! :)

  16. You're amazing!!! Thank you for sharing :) ALL Cam wants to do is go outside or he held while we are inside, so maybe one of these will be our saving grace! :) Happy Wednesday!! xo

  17. This is awesome!!!! We have a couple of those but definitely need to add to the collection. Hayden is obsessed with shows right now though so the apps don't last long. He watches the iPad in the car though so he has no choice but to watch haha!

    Guided Access is the best invention....I love that he can still touch the screen but it doesn't do anything!

  18. Thanks for sharing! We love a lot of these same ones, but there are some new ones that I'll have to try out. I'm going to post an update on our favorite apps soon, too!

  19. So great! I'll be downloading a few of these as we have a flight coming up. Our current favorite apps are Trucks and More Trucks by Duck Duck Moose.

  20. I know you wrote this post months ago but I saved it for our next big trip! I'm so glad I did because the hubby is flying Callie by himself to Michigan next week and now her iphone and his ipad are both update with fun new games!! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  21. this is so helpful - thank you! i just don't know where to start! lol i plan on downloading like 3 for tomorrow's flight... maybe 5??? haha i'm nervous to fly alone with baby william!

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