The Best (Mostly) Free iPad Apps for Toddlers

Media Reviews, Products and Giveaways

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2.” This statistic is particularly menacing for AAP rule-followers like me.  Children learn best from other people, not screens; I get that. But sometimes, Momma just needs a margarita from her favorite Mexican place and a reliable, guilt-free distraction for her toddler.

If you can relate, then rejoice! Here are seven mostly free, Type-A-Parent-Approved iPad apps that are sure to buy you an extra 8 – 20 minutes of peace. Or at the very least, will allow you to scarf down your chicken tacos:

ABC Videos by StoryBots (JibJab Media) | Free-ish

ABC Video Storybots screenshot

From the brilliant comedic minds that brought you various ways to Elf Yourself, comes the most entertaining, educational app ever. Our 18-month-old squeals with delight every time we fire this one up. These are the songs that, when they get stuck in your head, you really don’t mind. The first three letters are free; the remainder of the alphabet may be unlocked for $4.99 a month. Soooo worth it.

Paint Sparkles Draw (Kids Games Club) | Free

Paint Sparkles Draw screenshot

This colorful, free and somewhat-trippy drawing app narrates the color choices and shoots off sparklers and happy music as toddler fingers glide over the tablet screen. The app also includes simple coloring book pages. And if you’re super crafty like my friend Liz, you can save and print your child’s creations and turn them into “Thank You” cards.

Monkey Preschool Lunch Box (THUP Games) | $0.99


Priced at a whopping 99 cents, this one is not free, but just about every toddler I know is obsessed with this overly enthusiastic monkey and his Mary Poppins-esque lunch box.

Giggle Gang Baby & Laugh and Learn Baby (Fisher-Price) | Free


Great options for the younger ones, these were our daughter’s first iPad apps that we actually used as distractions during tummy time. A big fan of these as a baby, once she hit the 1-year mark, the excitement wore off. Still, you can’t go wrong with the Fisher-Price. Be sure to check out their Storybooks Rhymes set, too.

Sego Mini Forest Flyer (Sego Sego) | $1.99


It’s not free, but it is SO FREAKING CUTE! Our daughter is intrigued by the fact that a swipe of her finger advances the story and life experiences of this little pink bird. My husband actually met the developer at a conference this year. He’s a good guy who created a fantastic, fun app. Download it. You will thank me later.

The Winston Show (Toy Talk, Inc) | Free


The Winston Show is a voice-recognition app for ages 5 and older, but experience shows that kids as young as 3 years may enjoy it. A responsive and interactive experience, The Winston Show was recently described by developer and former Pixar Animation Studios guy Oren Jacob as “creating entertainment through conversation.” Despite what my husband refers to as “too much futzing” to set up the app (an adult must confirm the account and accept the privacy policy via email), it really is a must-have. How this charming, attention-capturing delight is free, I’ll never know. Download it now before they change their minds.

Margie Newman is a writer, runner, to-do list conqueror and lover of most things geeky. A Nashville native, she currently resides in San Diego with her husband, teacup poodle and dawn-worshiping toddler, Suzianne. On Twitter: @margienewman.

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