I'm excited for my upcoming trip with my husband and 2.5 year old. My son has had very little screen time to date, but I wanted to have some good apps for him for our 11 hour flight. I asked the moms in my Facebook group for their recommendations and got so many responses and positive comments (one mom said "this list is gold") that I thought I'd compile the recommendations here!
I looked at the description for each app and listed the recommended ages. If I noticed that the app offers in-app purchases, I specified.
A few of the apps seemed good but best suited for babies and young toddlers. I included those at the end of the post.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission at no cost to you if you click on my link and make a purchase. Please see the disclosure page for additional information. The links that I included are for the IOS apps. You may be able to find some of these apps on Amazon too.
Toddler and Preschooler Apps
Made for ages 3-5. This is an educational app.
This app includes many activities, some are appropriate for age 1+ and some for ages 2-5. One of my friends is a mom of three kids and all of them use it. She says it is fantastic!
This is an educational app, built for built for children from age 2 - 99. A couple of moms recommended it.
Recommended for ages 1-7. The Injini app was inspired by children with special needs but made for all kids. "Injini's game developers worked for two years with parents, early childhood educators, and occupational, speech, and cognitive experts to create superior play-based learning experiences that help young children reach developmental milestones. The games were designed for and tested with children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and various developmental delays, as well as typically developing preschoolers."
Made for ages five and under.
This app is perfect for a plane ride because you can download videos within the app and watch them offline.
Here is a much less expensive app from the same developers.
Targeting kids ages 2-5, the app is designed to extend the series’ social-emotional curriculum, helping kids identify and express their feelings.
I also came across the Daniel Tiger Potty app, which may be worth exploring.
This app is designed "for early readers." My husband downloaded this just after my son turned two and they have been enjoying it together. The animation is really cute.
Multiple moms recommended this as their kids' favorite app.
Multiple moms recommended these apps.
A bunch of moms recommended these apps. I looked at the details for a few of the apps and most were made for ages 6-8, though moms introduce them at much younger ages.
I listed only a few above, but type "Toca Boca" into this search box and more will pop up:
Free games for kids age 2-8.
One mom mentioned that after you download the app, you can download games by character.
For ages 2-5.
For ages five and under.
AlphaTots won many awards and "is the gold standard of ABC flash card apps" according to USA Today.
For ages five and under.
I couldn't easily find an age recommendation on the app store description, but would assume that this app is good for ages 1.5-3.
"Particularly suitable for children aged 18 months to 4 years."
This app is designed for all ages. It seems kind of silly, but entertaining (and perhaps teaches cause and effect).
Designed for ages 0-5. Multiple moms have recommended this to me. This app does offer in-app purchases.
For ages 1 and up (see each app for recommended ages). These apps seem to be free but include in app purchases.
For preschoolers and kindergarteners. One mom says that her kids go crazy for this. It wouldn't be my top choice from this list.
Baby-Young Toddler Apps
Note that a bunch of the apps recommended above are recommended from age one, so please also read the descriptions for the apps listed above. I wouldn't purchase the ones listed below past age two as your child may get bored of them quickly.
This is one of the first apps that I purchased for my son. It is cute and simple. Perfect for a one year old. You can choose from the built-in narrators: child's voice in young English; adult's voice in American English or Spanish. World languages also included: Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Japanese, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, German, French, and UK English. You also have the option of recording your own voice.
"Made for kids ages 2-5, the app is designed to extend the series’ social-emotional curriculum."
This is another app that I purchased for my son at age one. He enjoyed it for a while. He is now 2.5 and will still play with it on occasion, but I think he has outgrown it. Scroll up for another Daniel Tiger app that is appropriate for older toddlers and preschoolers.
For six months and up. One mom recommended making a playlist and setting it to loop to keep your child entertained for longer stints. She said that her kids developed an interest in the apps after age two. I included it in the baby list as it seems simplistic to me.