Toddlers are tech-savvy. Tablets and smarthphones are everywhere; touch technology is commonplace, and companies now market a host of devices specifically aimed at kids. Parents often find that expensive iPads quickly become common property in a home, with sticky fingers eager to run apps, make FaceTime calls, and look at photos. While a kid-tough cover is probably a good idea to keep your tablet in working condition, many parents are also hoping to find iPad apps for toddlers that offer more than just bright colors and loud noises. But with a huge variety of applications available, how do parents choose? What are some of the best iPad apps for young children?

ipad-apps-toddlersLaugh and Learn: Learning Letters (Fisher-Price)

This free app from Fisher-Price is a good way to get young toddlers interested in music, shapes, letters, and numbers. Although it can be combined with the company’s “apptivity” monkey toy, it’s not a requirement and the app is fun all by itself. Kids get to choose if they want to learn the alphabet, a song about numbers, shapes, or just enjoy a music medley. While the app doesn’t go beyond basic concepts, it’s bright and colorful without being garish and features catchy tunes which aren’t particularly loud or grating for parents to hear for hours on end.

Endless Alphabet (Originator)

Endless Alphabet is also free in the iTunes store and goes beyond just showing your child letters to encouraging interaction. Toddlers are shown stenciled words waiting to be “filled” with colored letters on the screen, which they drag into place. When placed, kids hear the sound of the letter, and when the word is complete, they get to hear it said aloud along with a clever animation. The app has over 50 words — things like “gargantuan” and “gargle” rather than the more commonplace “cat” or “dog.” It’s worth noting that only capital letters are used in the app, so while it’s an excellent start point for more complex word recognition, it has limited use for more advanced readers.

Peek-a-Zoo (Duck Duck Moose)

If you’re willing to pay $1.99 for an app, Peek-a-Zoo is a good investment. This brightly-colored game shows toddlers a set of animals, then asks them to identify which one is performing a specific action. For example, it might ask which animal is winking, eating, or dancing. This helps kids move beyond basic identification and also identify action, such as “the cow is dancing.” In many cases, more than one animal on a given screen will be performing some kind of action or holding an item which makes the right choice a challenge without becoming a frustration.

Little Digits (Cowly Owl)

Math is the focus of Little Digits ($1.99) which uses finger touches to help toddlers learn to count. Its basic mode lets kids put their fingers on the screen, then displays and speaks the number of fingers making contact. Older kids can also use the app to complete various simple math problems by touching the screen with the right number of fingers. Counting, number order from 1 to 10, addition, and subtraction are all included. In addition, the app has no advertising, no in-app purchase options, and no social media connections, making it extremely kid friendly.

These are just a few of the great iPad apps for toddlers available — thanks to increasing tablet use and toddler skill the number of intelligent, age-appropriate apps is quickly growing.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons