For iOS, I’d recommend Kids Song Machine. It’s very well done, with lots of kids song and toddler could interact by just poking on stuff. My two girls love it when they were one year old. There is also a Kids Song Machine 2, same concept, more songs.
Edit to add that when they were 18 months, as you have pointed, Monkey Lunch Box is good as well. I got this game based on recommendation from QT3 and it was as good as they say.
There are a slew of Fisher Price Apps which are free and interested my guy when he was a bit younger (coming up on 2 and 1/2 now). Also Bugs and Buttons 2 has a number of activities which he enjoys, even if he doesn’t quite understand them yet.
He also has spent a decent amount of time with a number of Sesame Street apps, the foremost being Elmo’s ABC (He likes Elmo, and is fascinated by letters. Slowly working toward writing the letters, which the app helps with.)
By far, however, the best app for him is still the home screen, with all the pages of icons he can swipe left and right. This was particularly true back when he was in the 9-18month age range (which was really more like the 15-18 month age range, as we really tried to keep screen time pre 1-year to near zero.)
For toddlers, I would highly recommend just about anything with Toca in the name. These guys do high-quality, age appropriate stuff that’s simple, but quite engaging. You can find something that fits a kid’s particular interests–they have hair cutting games, building games, store-running games… I would recommend Toca Doctor as a good place to start.
I would also recommend anything by Toca…their games have consistently been my son’s favorites (from 2-3 yrs) and I believe they do NOT add any iaps to their games.
Another developer I would check out is DaDa Company.
Finally I would like to give a strong recommendation to an app called Busy Shapes which is playful but is focused on hand-eye coordination, problem solving, trial and error, and so on.
App: Busy Shapes on the App Store
Are you a parent in search of an innovative way to sharpen your child’s reasoning skills and awaken their intelligence, as they immerse themselves in an amazing and evolving digital exploratory playground?
Then you’ll love Busy Shapes designed for children from 2 years old!
> Inspired by the pioneering works of famed Swiss scientist and intelligence expert Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
> Helps children improve their ability to handle simple objects through a series of engaging puzzles
> Real-time dashboard to monitor progress
> Includes an array of kid-friendly features, such as “passing” swipe control & more!
ABOUT BUSY SHAPES
Busy Shapes helps children improve their ability to handle simple objects through a series of puzzles, in which they must change simple shapes and place them in proper holes. Along the way, the app responds to each child’s actions with positive guidance and motivation. Plus, the app’s digital exploratory playground regularly refreshes with different objects, which keeps children interested and engaged.
INSPIRED BY JEAN PIAGET
Busy Shapes is inspired by the pioneering works of famed Swiss scientist and intelligence expert Jean Piaget (1896-1980), who believed that “children are little scientists”, and that a child’s thoughts are built through experiences that encourage him or her to engage in the reasoning process.
Free is great, but I certainly don’t mind paying if it comes with a recommendation, but would still prefer to avoid IAP.
To be honest, I would avoid most/all “free” child-focused apps. Inevitably they only include a portion of the full experience and typically require additional IAP purchases to unlock more stuff. While it is now more difficult for a child to accidentally purchase something the “free” apps will constantly advertise the extra content the children could be playing with and toddlers will take note of that and ask for it or get frustrated that they can’t play/interact with the content that is being advertised (or is sometimes even in the game itself but is not selectable or grayed out which is even more frustrating for a child). The whole thing is quite subversive.
Most reputable child-focused developers (Toca Boca, DaDa Company, etc.) will ask for a very reasonable up front price like $2.99 and then give you the full app. They occasionally do include advertisements featuring their other apps, but I have found this less invasive than the IAP pushers. I have had better experiences paying for apps up front than going the free route. Sometimes a developer will offer “Lite” (read free) and “Full” versions of the same app. Use the “Lite” version to try out the app yourself and if you think it is worthwhile purchase the full/premium version before handing the device to your child.
Update: I don’t have my iPad accessible now, but when I do I will check the apps I have acquired for my son and pass on the list of the best.
Thanks, that kind of IAP nagging was the kind of thing I was hoping to avoid, without having to randomly try a bunch of crap. I know I can ignore that kind of crap, but I’d rather not have my child trained (or the wife for that matter) to just accept that kind of business practice before he is even old enough to understand it to begin with.
More than happy to pay reputable vendors full price for their apps, just need advice on what those apps are among all the noise.
Ditto. My son is nearly 2 and cycles through those all the time. Endless Alphabet helped us keep him calm during breathing treatments, and he was able to drag and drop letters correctly before he turned 1. It was pretty amazing. Now I’m wondering how he figured out task switching on the iPad!
Number on app in our household both for when the eldest was between 1 & 2 and while the current is still in that range is Peek a Boo Barn - Peekaboo Barn on the App Store (lets her mash the screen). The app icon is a little barn which is fun for her to find on the home screen as well.
A little older, my eldest liked this one when she was about 2+ - Little Fox Nursery Rhymes on the App Store (great interactive songs, 3 in total including Old MacDonald with multiple seasons / interactions per season) Really solid app.
Bubbles is always a solid one as well ;)
Totally being those parents that started off as “my kid is going to play with blocks and learn like we did” to “okay, let’s give our kid the iPad 2 and buy ourselves Minis so we can actually use a tablet in the house”. At least, this way, I can curate the apps on the device just for the kids.