Before I became a parent, I swore to myself that I would never let my children watch a lot of television and or play with an electronic device to keep them busy, especially in public at a restaurant. Little did I know that an iPad would be my saving grace for not only long restaurant meals, but also long car rides, and long airplane flights. At home, we still have a strict policy on having no phones, iPads or computers at the dinner table or during meals. My husband keeps reminding me that we live in an electronic world and it is almost impossible for a child not to be exposed to all the devices we adults use everyday. I completely understand where he’s coming from since I depend on my phone and computer daily, especially for work. Even though I know he is right, I’m still in denial and it’s hard for me to give devices to my daughter willingly because I do not want her looking at a screen more than she has to for many fears regarding her eyesight, attention span, and dependency. I also don’t want to stunt her time to play and use her imagination.
The world is so different than when I was a little girl where email, the internet, most cable channels, texting, and smart phones did not exist. When I was younger we went outside to play in our yard and or with our neighbors – all day long. We played dolls (mostly Barbie and Cabbage Patch Kids) and used our imagination to play school or something of the sort. Sure, I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons like The Smurfs, The Jetsons, and The Flintstones but it was only at home and typically only on the weekends. When you went out to a restaurant all you had to keep you entertained were crayons and maybe some sugar packets. Since electronic devices are portable now and wi-fi is available in so many places for free, it is almost impossible not to use them on the go. Phones aren’t just used to make a phone call, they are our address books, cameras, planners, internet, and a place for us to watch television and play games. And the thing is, it really works. An iPad can keep my daughter entertained for a long period of time, if needed. And she taught herself how to use it and navigate it so easily at such a young age. Luckily for me, if I ever give my daughter a choice to watch a show or go outside while I cook dinner or do the dishes she always chooses to go outside! So, I’ve come to terms a little more and have become a little more tolerant and even lenient at times on having her use an electronic device. We even put it in the diaper bag when we go out to a restaurant just in case it’s needed in a crunch (gasp!).
Even though she will use her iPad more than I’d like, I do still try to have only educational apps as an option as much as possible, so here are my top list of apps for babies and toddlers (in no particular order).
- Piano Pals – A mom and daughter favorite! Piano Pals has different lands like Farm, Safari, Forest, Arctic, and Jungle where children are exposed to different animals in each land and can choose to read the animal’s name, learn colors, learn numbers, listen to music or hear the sound each animal makes! It is very colorful, educational, and interactive.
- Peekaboo Barn – Children learn about different farm animals and the sounds they make by clicking on the barn doors and seeing what animal is on the other side.
- Tiny Piano – Your children will learn different musical sounds and learn how to play the piano!
- Bubbles – When your child presses his or her finger on the screen, bubbles will appear and then your child can pop the bubbles, too!
- Musical Hands – Children are exposed to different primary colors and can also play music by the touch of their fingers!
- Wheels on the Bus – Children can sing along to songs, learn how to recognize different vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances, and much, much more. This one is defiantly one of my daughter’s favorites.
- PlayKids: Children can read books, watch shows, play games, color, and more. This is definitely in my daughter’s top 3 apps of all time.
- The Farm (by Fisher Price) – Children learn how to turn the pages of this entertaining book about different animals at the farm. Each page features a different animal and animal sounds. The last page has a song that will stick in your head for days!
- Peek n Play (by Fisher Price) – Children click the screen and various animals like a monkey, a giraffe and an elephant will peek out from behind the tree or rise from above the grass.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel – You can play with his doctor kit, play music for happy, sad, and mad moods, put virtual stickers on the magical neighborhood, or learn how to use the potty!
The PBS Kids app, the Disney Junior App, and the Nick Jr app are also on her iPad and are used when we really need a distraction. Believe it or not, there are many times when she doesn’t choose a television show and she will play the games on the apps listed above.