We know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends zero screen time for kids under 2 years old, and I totally respect that -- though I admit to not always following that rule ourselves -- electronics can be a a great tool for parents who need a few undistracted minutes to get something important done or for just about anyone traveling more than a couple of hours with a child in tow.

Personally, as a work-at-home mom to a two-year-old, there have been many instances in which I wouldn't have met deadline without breaking out the iPad. That said, I do try to limit usage to a maximum of twice a week and never for more than an hour at a time, and I try to stick with really high-quality apps that have an educational component. 

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Below, you'll find a list of my suggestions for the best apps for toddlers. Being that ollder kids have the ability to tell you what they would like and understand technology a bit better, I'm limiting the suggestions for kids 2-3, since you'll have to do much of the decision making for them!

PBS Kids Video 1

PBS Kids Video

Image via Google Play

PBS KIds programming is a favorite among the toddler set, and with the PBS Kids Video app you can cue up age-appropriate content any time of day. There are clips as well as some full episodes for popular shows including Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train, Curious George and many more. There's even interactive content for parents. The app is also super-easy for toddlers to work all on their own. PBS Kids Video is free and available for Apple and Android devices.


Shape Puzzle HD 2

Shape Puzzle HD

Image via Apple

There are a lot of puzzle apps available for kids on both Android and Apple, but we're particularly fond of Shape Puzzle HD, which features several high-resolution scenes in which you can click on an object to complete a puzzle of it. Once the puzzle is complete a character pops up to name the object. Once each object has been completed individually, the scene is completed. Its a jigsaw puzzle without all the little pieces! It's loads of fun, helps with object recognition and can entertain for long periods of time. Shape Puzzle HD is only available for Apple devices, $.99


Endless Reader 3

Endless Reader

Image via Apple

Endless Reader is my personal favorite! This app features adorable monsters that introduce children to sight words in which they must place each letter where it belongs, followed by a silly sentence that requires the child to place the sight words where the belong in the sentence. It teaches and reinforces reading and language concepts with crisp, clean, eye-catching graphics. There's actually an entire series by the same company, including the original alphabet version (which is also available for Android) and a version for numbers. Endless Reader is available for Apple devices and is free.

PBS Parents Play & Learn 4

PBS Parents Play & Learn

Image via Google Play

It's no surprise that PBS has all the resources necessary to create amazing apps, and even though I already mentioned their video app, I have to include the Play & Learn app as well. This single option actually features two versions of a bunch of different educational games -- an easy version for young toddlers and a hard version for older toddlers. Language, counting, matching, color and more concepts are all taught through the games, which are super-easy for toddlers to play independently, and again the graphics are bright and attractive enough to hold the interest of even very young toddlers. PBS Parents Play & Learn is available for both Apple and Android devices and is free. 


Talking Ben 5

I have to include Talking Ben just for fun. Ben is a shaggy dog who plays the role of a retired chemistry professor that kids can interact with by poking, tickling and talking to him. Each action incites a different response from Ben who will show your kids how to mix test tubes in a lab, have a phone conversation with them, record a video with them and do other hilarious things like eat a can of beans and belch. Uncouth, but fun, especially for silly toddlers. Talking Ben is only available for Apple devices and is free.