Every parent has an opinion on letting toddlers use tablets. Whatever side you choose, I think iPads can be beneficial when used in certain situations with limits applied. These tools can supplement what your toddler is already learning — and can give a parent a small break (gasp) or help calm your baby at the doctor’s office.
My toddler was at risk for developmental delays. All of her therapists recommended specific apps to help her with fine motor skills and overall development. Here are free iPad applications that my toddler and I enjoy together.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn
The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn collection is by far the best free apps I’ve seen with quality graphics, educational value and no disturbing advertisements. The selection of free options includes tools that help your baby learn about animals, shapes, colors and numbers. There are also options for free storybooks and entertaining videos.
Baby Flash Cards: Encyclopedia Lite
My daughter loves to identify objects on her own. We work with tangible flash cards and then supplement her comprehension with this application. Categories include animals, fruit, vegetables, vehicles and everyday use. It also has the sound associated with each picture, which is better than my attempts at chirping like a bird.
PBS KIDS Video
Two words: Sesame Street. Many of us fondly remember this PBS classic, but there are also new PBS shows that are just as educational and family-friendly. The PBS application allows you to select a specific show and watch in its entirety. It also gives you a sense of security, knowing that everything is parent-approved.
Peek-a-Zoo Lite: Toddler Peekaboo at the Zoo
From the sea to the zoo, these free applications help your toddler learn the types of animals and the sounds they make. It also demonstrates cause and effect, as your toddler must touch the screen for a creature to appear. This is one of those free applications that may hook you to want more and download the upgraded versions for $1.99 to $2.99, which is still pretty cheap.
Sound Touch Lite
This application displays cartoon pictures of animals and vehicles. When you touch one, a real picture will pop up as well as the sound that item or animal makes. The ads can get annoying, but it’s still a fun option to help your kids learn everyday objects.
Baby Sign Language Dictionary
The life of a toddler can be frustrating without the proper tools to communicate. This American Sign Language app can help parents and babies learn simple signs to assist with basic requests. The Lite version has a very limited selection of signs, but it’s a good start for a beginner.
YouTube may seem obvious, but I didn’t realize how many videos are available that are geared toward toddlers until I searched. Enter “Baby Einstein” and many options will pop up from “Discovering Shapes” to “Meet the Orchestra.” Make sure you are sitting with your baby as these play to make sure they are the videos you intended. I always put a limit on the amount of time my daughter can watch a video and make sure the rest of her day is filled with interactive and outdoor play. As a parent, you can also use YouTube to learn tips like how to cook baby food or brush your toddler’s teeth.