The Best Free iPad Apps for Toddlers

Games, activities, learning, and entertainment for your toddler

A young child using an iPad.

 

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While many of the great apps out there for toddlers are paid, there are several excellent free apps that will keep a toddler entertained and even do a little teaching along the way.

Before you go downloading, you should make sure your iPad has been childproofed. The number one thing to do is to turn off in-app purchases, which will keep your toddler from accidentally buying something within the app.

How Much Screen Time Should Your Toddler Have? 

The newest recommendations do away with any hard limit for the amount of time a toddler should spend with "screens." Most learning with a device like an iPad begins at age 2+, so screen time before then should be limited to 1-2 hours, and even after the age of two, screen time should have its limits. The best use of the iPad is playing with your child while they are on the device.

YouTube Kids

Screenshot of the YouTube Kids iPad app

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YouTube Kids is a selection of kid-friendly channels that range from Sesame Street to Peppa Pig to educational and music videos. Perhaps the best feature is the voice-enabled search. This allows your child to perform their own searches and find their own videos. 

While the app is kid-safe and doesn't show advertisements, it does have "unpacking" videos, which are videos of a toy being unpacked and played with. These videos can be rather addicting to young kids, and unfortunately, the timer in the parental settings of the app doesn't' work very well.

Price: Free

Laugh & Learn: Shapes & Colors

Screenshot of the Laugh & Learn™ Shapes & Colors Music Show for Baby iPad app

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Designed for the Apptivity case, you don't actually need Fisher Price's accessory for your kid to enjoy this app. Shapes and Colors allow your toddler to tap away at the screen touching shapes and making new shapes appear. The app also has a fun keyboard to play along with the shapes and colors song. This one may not go far in actually teaching your child shapes and colors, but it is very entertaining.

Price: Free

PBS Kids

Screenshot of the PBS KIDS Video iPad app

My daughter loves watching videos, but that doesn't mean I want her browsing through Netflix or Hulu Plus. The PBS Kids app is great because it lets her pick out videos on her own, and it gives me the peace of mind to know she isn't watching something she shouldn't be watching. PBS also has a Play and Learn app that your kiddo might enjoy.

Price: Free

Storybook Rhymes Volume 1

Screenshots of the Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 iPad app

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Another Apptivity app, Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 includes "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Each story allows you to sing along, or simply read and play. The play mode will have your kid tapping the screen to produce sounds and effects. This is another app that is long on entertainment but short on learning.

Price: Free

Abby Monkey: Preschool and Kindergarten

Screenshot of the Toddler kids game iPad app

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This 'lite' version of a paid app has plenty to do without buying the full version. The app has a number of levels that feature matching shapes, obtaining, making your own train by choosing train carts, and other fun activities. In fact, the free version may be enough to convince you to buy the paid version, but even if you don't, there's plenty of fun in this app. This one is best for 2-year-olds, as younger children might have a hard time picking out shapes or learning what to do.

Price: Free

Wheels on the Bus - All in One Educational Activity Center

Screenshot of the The Wheels On The Bus Musical iPad app

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Not to be confused with the interactive book of the same name, this activity center has a number of free games and activities to entertain your toddler. And yes, it has a sing along to "Wheels on the Bus." This one will pleasantly surprise you with a number of free activities you can do without buying anything extra. A favorite activity for many is the coloring book, which lets your child tap a color and tap the drawing to automatically paint an area.

Price: Free

Chalk Pad

Screenshot of the Chalk Pad Free iPad app

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Every kid needs a paint canvas, and Chalk Pad is a great free alternative to some of the paid apps on the App Store. Allowing your child to chalk it up with multiple colors, you can even change the chalk size or write one the chalkboard using the on-screen keyboard. This is a great alternative for younger toddlers who might not spend as much time freestyling on the chalkboard to make a paid app worth it, but if your toddler really loves to paint, the Drawing Pad is a relatively cheap drawing app aimed at kids with good quality.

Price: Free

If You Buy Just One App: Make it Moo, Baa, La La La!

Screenshot of the Moo, Baa, La La La! - Sandra Boynton iPad app

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If you want to open up your wallet, the Sandra Boynton interactive books can be worth it. You may already be familiar with Sandra Boynton's books, and the interactive iPad apps take them to the next step. Moo, Baa, La La La! is our favorite, but other popular alternatives are Barnyard Dance and The Going to Bed Book.

Price: $2.99