Applications for iPhone and Android ideal for pre-school children (aged 2, 3 and 4 years old).
I was ‘that mum’ that swore she would never let her kids use her phone or a tablet, and I do allow very limited screen time each day, but sometimes you are in on long journey or stuck in an unexpected queue, and all you have with you is your device. This is where these apps come in so super handy!
Some of the apps I recommend are totally free to use, some allow in-app purchases, and some come at a one-time cost or monthly subscription. All information and prices are accurate at time of publication.
1) CBeebies Get Creative
Best for open-ended creative play.
There are many different character ‘worlds’ to choose from, including ‘Jojo and Gran Gran’, Hey Duggee, Mr Tumble and Waffle the Wonder Dog. What we loved the most about this app was the different modes of play available: freestyle painting, music making or even building a customised virtual toy! Our 2 year old LOVES this app! Best thing about it… it’s totally free!
2) Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street
“Intended for parents and caregivers to use with their young children (ages 2-5)”, this app uses characters and games to help kids learn how to problem-solve, calm down and develop self-control.
3) Meet The Numberblocks
Best for older tots who are learning numbers and counting.
As seen on CBeebies, the Numberblocks are very engaging characters and help little ones learn through play. Slick graphics and highly rated by users. Whats not to love?!
4) Storytime from CBeebies
Exactly what it says on the tin!
A number of stories featuring your little one’s favourite CBeebies characters, available to download and read anytime, anywhere. The app features a mixture of still and animated imagery to accompany each story, and you can choose to have the story read to you or to read it yourself, so you can adapt it to your child’s development too.
Best for video content for the whole family.
If you are a Disney fan, you will already be familiar with Disney+ and the huge value you get for £7.99, but on face value compared to the apps before, it is expensive! So what do you get for your money?
The children’s content on Disney+ is second-to-none. There are so many new and classic television series for little ones, including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney Junior Nursery Rhymes and Bluey. Then there are the huge amount of animated and live action films, such as Winnie The Pooh, The Lion King and Finding Nemo. Hours-upon-hours of original and well-loved content, all available to stream or to download and watch offline.
Don’t forget, Disney+ is designed to be used by the whole family (including adults), so if you like Marvel, Star Wars, Lost, The Simpsons or American Horror Story, you won’t be short of content either!
£7.99 per month or £79.90 per year
Lego Duplo World
“Carefully aligned with the highly-regarded Headstart Early Learning Outcomes Framework to ensure it’s age appropriate and meets the developmental needs of 2-5-year-olds”.
This app has won many awards, including the ‘Best Branded Preschool Learning App’ at the 2021 Kidscreen Awards. There are different games that help engage children’s creativity, whilst developing memory, problem solving and numeracy. It is worth noting that although the app is free to download, there are only a limited number of ‘levels’ you can play before in-app purchases are required.
So there is it! Our top smartphone apps for kids under 5. I hope you and your little ones enjoy the content when you need it, but remember, nothing can replace the interaction you have with your kids. Soak up every second – they don’t stay this small for long!