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Recommended Apps for Little Ones Under Age 5

During the year, YDL librarians carefully review apps that promote learning for our school-aged patrons, so we can recommend them to parents.

We maintain another list of apps for kids ages 5 to 12.

Criteria we look for in educational apps:

  • High-quality, age-appropriate educational content
  • No in-app purchases (or that feature can be turned off)
  • No links outside the app
  • Opportunities for creation and safe sharing
  • Encourage or inspire activity beyond the device
  • Accommodate different languages and abilities
  • Available for both Android and Apple devices


Free Apps
  • Daisy the Dino ages 4+
    Learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy!
  • Fish HD/Fish School ages 2-4
    Learn ABCs, 123s and shapes with colorful fish friends
  • Musical Me ages 3-5
    Music based games teach pitch, rhythm and instrumentation
  • Park Math ages 2-6
    Learn numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, sorting and patterns 
  • PBS Kids ages 3-6
    Live stream educational videos and TV shows and play games to help your child learn 
  • Toca Kitchen Monsters ages 2-5
    Practice kitchen skills as you feed two silly monsters
  • Trucks by Duck Duck Moose ages 2-6
    Learn sequencing, sorting and problem solving
  • Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose ages 2-4
    Interactive songs, record yourself singing!
  • Word Wagon ages 2-6
    Award-winning app teaching letters, phonics and spelling
$.99 Apps
  • AniMatch ages 4+
    Fun and easy to use matching game for little ones
  • Cookie Doodle ages 4+
    Follow the instructions to make and decorate virtual cookies
  • Little Writer ages 4+
    Fun way to practice letter and number tracing
$1.99 Apps
  • Little Robot Shapes and Colors ages 4+
    Practice sorting different shapes and colors, an important early math skill 
  • Ookii Squiggles ages 4+
    Squiggle away and then hit the PLAY button and watch your drawings come alive!
  • Kapu Blocks ages 2-5
    Teaches physic concepts and gravity rules through free play
$2.99 Apps
  • Alpha Tots ages 4+
    “A” is for action in the fun app that uses 26 action verbs to help toddlers learn the ABCs
  • Busy Shapes ages 4+
    Learn about visual perspectives, coordination, agility and critical thinking
  • Moo Baa La La La ages 2-5
    Fun, interactive Sandra Boynton book
$3.99 Apps
  • Hat Monkey ages 2-5
    Help Hat Monkey accomplish some big tasks
  • Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Animal Parade ages 2-5
    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, Brown Bear is brought to life in a stunning 3D interactive app
  • Hoopa City ages 4+
    Combine different materials to build roads, houses, and much, much more
  • Sago Mini Forest Flyer ages 4+
    An open-ended play experience loaded with exciting animated surprises 
  • Thinkrolls ages 2-5
    Puzzle games that encourage logical thinking
$4.99+ Apps
  • Endless Alphabet ages 3-5
    Letter recognition and vocabulary builder
  • The Monster at the End of this Book ages 2-5
    An interactive storybook app starring Grover
  • My Very Hungry Caterpillar ages 2-5
    Play with the caterpillar from Eric Carle’s well-known story

A note about screen time

Screen time means how long a child is looking at a screen. The television, computer, tablet, and cell phone all count as screens.

Black & White logo that shows a young child and the words The American Academy of Pediatrics

We remember these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • For children younger than 18 months, discourage use of screen media other than video chatting.
  • For parents of children 18-24 months who want to introduce digital media, select high-quality programming/apps (see our list) and use media together with children.
  • For children 2-5 years, limit screen use to one hour a day of high-quality programming, and co-view with children.
  • Avoid using media as the only way to calm a child.
  • Keep bedrooms, mealtimes and parent-child playtimes screen-free for all. Stop using screens an hour before bedtime and remove devices from bedrooms before bedtime.
  • Avoid fast-paced programs, apps with lots of distracting content and violent content.