The 10 Best Free iPad Apps for Toddlers

iPad games, activities, learning, and entertainment for toddlers

The Ultimate Guide to Online Learning at Home
The Ultimate Guide to Online Learning at Home
Introduction

Apple's iPad is an excellent educational tool for kids of all ages. If you have little ones, free iPad apps for toddlers can entertain, engage, and educate safely and securely. We've selected our 10 favorite free iPad apps for toddlers, rated according to design, educational content, and appeal. Try them out the next time you need a few distraction-free moments.

Before you download apps, child-proof your iPad. Turn off in-app purchases to keep your toddler from accidentally buying something within the app.

01
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Best for a Variety of Content: YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids app for iPad
What We Like
  • Kid-friendly, algorithm-curated content from YouTube.

  • Create an age-appropriate profile for each child.

  • Hand-pick channels for kids.

What We Don't Like
  • Algorithm allows some inappropriate content through.

  • Content contains ads.

  • Need to monitor kids' viewing choices.

The free YouTube Kids iPad app delivers a selection of kid-friendly channels that range from Sesame Street and Peppa Pig to educational and music videos. Its best feature is voice-enabled search, which helps kids perform searches and find videos on their own.

Parents set controls for each child's profile, so it's important to select Preschool to enable the right content settings for little ones.

YouTube Kids does feature "unboxing" videos, which are videos of a toy being unpacked and played with. These videos are very appealing to children and may introduce them to new toys they think they "need."

The app is kid-safe. It has ads, but they're limited and enable the service to be free of charge.

Enjoy YouTube Kids on the web at YouTubeKids.com.

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02
of 10

Best for Creative Play: Trucks HD by Duck Duck Moose

Trucks HD iPad game for toddlers
What We Like
  • Toddlers and older kids alike will love this app.

  • This app has won parenting and industry quality awards.

  • Music is engaging and not annoying.

What We Don't Like
  • There's only an iPad version, so you can't play it in a pinch on your iPhone.

Trucks HD is one of a series of excellent free iPad apps by Duck Duck Moose. This award-winning creative play app introduces your toddler to a variety of trucks, highlighting each truck's activities with games that teach problem-solving, sorting, sequencing, and more. For example, take the garbage truck for a spin and learn about recycling and composting. Use your tow truck to help fix a flat tire, and create a car and truck parade.

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03
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Best for Learning Shapes and Colors: Laugh & Learn Shapes & Colors

Laugh & LearnShapes & Colors Music Show for Baby iPad app
What We Like
  • Colorful and friendly app.

  • Sing along with embedded tunes.

  • Learn shapes and colors in a fun way.

What We Don't Like
  • Music keyboard and notes don't correlate.

Designed for babies six months and up, the free Laugh & Learn Shapes & Colors iPad app is an easy, engaging app designed to grow with your baby as they gain more dexterity and mobility. Little ones tap and tilt the screen while interacting with colors and shapes, learning their names. When they get a little older, the app's Level 2 lets kids play a piano from a keyboard at the bottom of the app's screen.

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04
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Best for Learning Farm Animals: Peekaboo Barn Lite

Peekaboo Barn iPad app for Toddlers
What We Like
  • Award-winning game.

  • Play with no Wi-Fi or internet.

  • No ads or in-app purchases.

What We Don't Like
  • You'll need to upgrade to the full version to gain more features.

This free iPad app is a sweet and carefully crafted interactive learning game for the youngest app users. Listen to animal sounds coming from the barn, and tap to find out who it is. The animation is beautiful and will help your little one learn animal names, sounds, and cause-and-effect scenarios.

Download and play Peekaboo Barn Lite for free, but if your child really likes it, consider buying the full version for $1.99.

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05
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Best for Learning About Music: Musical Me! by Duck Duck Moose

Musical Me! iPad app for toddlers
What We Like
  • Unique games teach musical principles.

  • Learn about drums, cymbals, triangles, maracas, and egg shakers.

  • App has won multiple quality awards.

What We Don't Like
  • Some of these songs might get stuck in your head.

Featuring Mozzarella the Mouse as a guide, this free iPad app for toddlers features 14 popular children's songs while teaching little ones about notes, pitch, rhythm, and more. Play instruments, create songs, and even learn how to read music notes while engaging in age-appropriate games.

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06
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Best for Kids' Videos: PBS KIDS Video

PBS KIDS Video iPad app
What We Like
  • Live streams of educational videos and PBS shows.

  • Familiar PBS characters.

  • Stream full episodes or video clips.

What We Don't Like
  • Content is ad-supported.

Children love watching videos, but that doesn't mean they should browse through Netflix or Hulu. The free PBS KIDS Video iPad app lets kids pick out videos on their own while also giving parents peace of mind.

Kids have access to thousands of free videos, including episodes and clips, featuring favorites like Curious George, Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and more.

PBS also has a PBS Parents Play and Learn app that kids may enjoy.

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07
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Best for Educational Rhymes: Storybook Rhymes Volume 1

Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 iPad app
What We Like
  • Fun sounds and songs.

  • High-contrast images with simple backgrounds.

  • Good for children with visual impairments.

  • Play in two modes: Sing to Me and Read & Play.

What We Don't Like
  • Only two rhymes are featured.

The free Fisher-Price Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 iPad app includes two classic nursery rhymes: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Little ones can sing along or read and play. The play mode encourages kids to tap the screen to produce sounds and effects. There are a few customization options for turning the narrator and background music on and off. Overall, this sweet app is entertaining and engaging.

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08
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Best for Multiple Activities: The Wheels On The Bus Musical

The Wheels On The Bus Musical iPad app
What We Like
  • App offers 12 fun games.

  • It's an interactive sing-along.

  • Coloring book, puzzles, and memory match are great learning tasks.

What We Don't Like
  • The app is free to download, but to get the most out of it, you need the in-app purchases.

The free iPad app The Wheels On The Bus Musical is a delightful combination of games, activities, and entertainment for toddlers. A favorite activity for many kids is the coloring book, which lets a child tap a color, and then tap the drawing to paint an area automatically.

Download and use the app for free, but you'll need to purchase the full version for $7.99 to take advantage of all the puzzles and activities. More song packs and puzzles are available for $3.99, as well.

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09
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Best for Social-Emotional Learning: Peek a Zoo by Duck Duck Moose

Peek-a-Zoo free iPad app
What We Like
  • Kids will learn social and emotional cues.

  • Amazing jazz versions of nursery rhymes.

  • Interactive play.

What We Don't Like
  • You may find yourself humming jazz kids' tunes all day.

Peek-a-Zoo is another excellent free toddler iPad app from Duck Duck Moose. This app combines lovable animals with subtle clues about emotions, actions, and sounds, all surrounded by jazz versions of favorite children's tunes. Toddlers will learn about social-emotional cues, such as smiling, crying, and being sad or surprised, while enjoying this award-winning game.

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10
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Best for Creative Expression: Scribaloo Paint

Scribaloo Paint iPad app for toddlers
What We Like
  • Simply and elegantly designed.

  • No ads, like many other free drawing apps for kids.

  • Great for learning colors.

  • Save your child's drawings and email or text to family.

What We Don't Like
  • Saving photos to the camera roll is sometimes glitchy.

Scribaloo Paint a simple and intuitive free painting iPad app for toddlers that will help teach color recognition while allowing your children to express themselves.

With freeform painting, your child will practice fine motor skills while exploring their creativity with lovely watercolor effects. Download and save your budding artist's work and share with family or make cards.

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How Much Screen Time Should Your Toddler Have?

Expert recommendations on screen time for children have changed over the years. Currently, it's advised to limit screen time for kids aged 18 months to 2 years to educational programming watched alongside adults. For children between the ages of 2 and 5, experts advise limiting non-educational screen time to about an hour a day on weekdays and three hours on weekend days.