10 Best Toddler iPad Games

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In full disclosure, my daughter is only 22 months old, and she didn’t purchase these games herself (her credit history is a little dicey). She only has access to the apps that my wife and I download for her. So, she’s not exactly the most informed app reviewer. But, during a recent trip from Atlanta to Denver, we downloaded as many games as we could find to hopefully avoid a 3 hour plane trip from hell. In light of all that, here are the best toddler iPad games according to my daughter (in no particular order).

toddler ipad gamesPeekaboo Barn

  • Developer: Night & Day Studios
  • Price: $1.99 (Lite: Free)
  • iTunes Link

Peekaboo Barn has an extremely simple premise. There are animals behind the barn doors and you must tap the screen to reveal them. Easy enough. The app’s rampant success comes from its execution of that simple premise: Colorful graphics, smooth animations, and cute sound effects.

Because of the pure one-tap controls, even a 1-year-old will love this game. In fact, to it’s own detriment, it’s so simple that a 2 or 3 year-old might get bored with it.

Instead of buying Peekaboo Barn alone, just go for the “Party” bundle which includes 5 games for $4.99. The various sequels aren’t as good as the original Barn, but nonetheless they’re worth the few extra bucks. If your child loves Sesame Street (my daughter is obsessed), Peekaboo Sesame Street is another fun iteration being sold for $2.99. I would skip the lite version in this case; it only has 3 animals.

toddler ipad gamesPeek-a-Zoo

  • Developer: treebetty design
  • Price: $3.99 (Lite: Free)
  • iTunes Link

Another developer, another peek-a-boo themed app. I guess nobody has the copyright because there are a few apps/books/etc. with this exact same name. But trust me, this is the best one.

Original names aside, this is a terrific app. It has 15 beautifully illustrated animals and catchy sound effects. My only gripe: The UI isn’t as basic as Peekaboo Barn’s is. When my daughter was 1, she didn’t quite understand how to tap the small arrow for the next animal. That problem was very short lived though. As with Peekaboo Barn, there’s a free lite version if you want to try it, but it’s kind of a waste of time with only a few animals.

The full collection of Peek-a-Zoo apps (4 of them – 60 animals total) costs $9.99. Unlike other bundles, this is a single big app that allows you to navigate between the different collections instead of multiple separate apps. A little expensive, but after a while you’ll come to realize that one high quality go-to game is much more valuable than a baker’s dozen of free apps that your child wants nothing to do with.

toddler ipad gamesNighty Night Circus

This might be my daughter’s favorite. She loves to tap on all the tents and tuck in the circus animals for the night. She especially loves the rabbit who climbs up into his hat, and the silly fleas who wave at each other. I wish it made my daughter want to go to sleep, but alas, it’s a fun game and the animations make her laugh. The cute animations in Nighty Night Circus are only outdone by its beautiful art work and rich colors – not the bright cartoon graphics found in your typical kid’s app. A 1-year-old probably won’t be able to navigate from tent to tent by themselves, but with your help they’ll enjoy it all the same.

The original Nighty Night is good too, but “Circus” is better. If your son or daughter loves it – as mine does – a few additional circus animals can be bought for $1.99. Free apps are wonderful, but 5 bucks total isn’t too bad for a beautiful game that is engaging for kids and surprisingly enjoyable for adults too.

toddler ipad gamesToddler Animal Pop

  • Developer: landoncope
  • Price: $1.99 (Lite: Free)
  • iTunes Link

Toddler Animal Pop isn’t the most educational game out there – at its core it’s just a “smash” game – but it helps your little one learn their animals and my daughter loves it nonetheless. You start out by picking 1 of the 30 available animals and that animal becomes a backdrop for falling items that must be popped. The items start out fairly ordinary with bubbles, fruit and smiling stars that must be popped. Then, it gets a little strange when your child has to smash light bulbs and squishy bugs. It’s relatively harmless though. My daughter hasn’t started walking around the house smashing light bulbs… Yet!

After all the bubbles or stars are popped, the recently freed animal is added to a “zoo” collection. As far as free toddler apps go, the free version of Animal Pop is more useful than most, including 7 animals. So, if you’re completely broke from buying diapers and organic milk, this is a great free app for you to download.

toddler ipad gamesKids Cleanup

This is a great app for the offspring of neat freaks like myself! Naturally kids like to emulate what their parents do, so this app gives them the opportunity to mimic their parent’s chores with just a few taps and swipes. (I wish chores were that easy!) Tasks include cleaning a bedroom, laundry, yard work, washing the dog and much more.

The graphics and animations in Kids Cleanup aren’t as polished or impressive as other toddler iPad games on this list, but the gameplay is entertaining and there are a whole bunch of mini-games within the overall game. Also, it’s only 99 cents!

toddler ipad gamesKids Doodle

  • Developer: Bejoy Mobile
  • Price: Free (No Ads: $0.99)
  • iTunes Link

Kids Doodle is another game that is well executed in lieu of having a ground-breaking premise. It is simply a drawing app. But, it is fairly easy to navigate and it features a fun mixture of brush strokes that automatically cycle through various bright colors. At a young age, they’ll enjoy just making random marks on the screen. Eventually they can do some more deliberate illustrations.

Not many of the apps on this list are completely free, but this is a good one! The ads are on a banner up at the top of the illustration page. There is a chance your kid could accidentally tap the ad, but it not too invasive. I haven’t upgraded to the ad-free version yet and my daughter almost never taps the ad banner. A mere 99 cents can get rid of the ads forever, if they bother you.

toddler ipad gamesElmo Loves ABCs

  • Developer: Sesame Street
  • Price: $4.99 (Lite: Free)
  • iTunes Link

This app seems expensive at first, but there’s a lot of bang for your buck. In addition to teaching your child their ABCs (or 123s if you buy their numbers game), it’s also chock-full of licensed Sesame Street videos they’ll love; my daughter can’t get enough of Elmo. The UI is straight forward but also a little clunky. Select a letter, trace its shape and watch some fun videos themed around that particular letter. Like most games, it might take a while for younger toddlers to get the hang of it, especially the letter tracing.

If you don’t want to spend the $4.99, don’t miss out on the free lite version! The lite version includes the first three letters of the alphabet and several videos. As you know, C is for Cookie!

toddler ipad gamesLego Duplo Train

One of the best free toddler iPad games that’s available, Lego Train is a no-brainer download. No lite version. No expansions to buy. It’s just a solid free game. Not amazing but solid.

This game isn’t very educational, but there are some small problem-solving elements in it. Your child starts by choosing a few train cars – some hold cargo, some hold people – then they load up the cars and off they go! There are some cute interactive elements in the landscape to keep things interesting; flowers and animals will respond to taps. Of course, the train hits a few obstacles along the way. A bridge must be built, a maze-like path must be drawn, etc. Simple stuff. But, like I said, this game is certainly worth the download.

toddler ipad gamesBusy Shapes

Busy Shapes is like a digital shape sorter on steroids. Vivid colors and realistic sound effects give the game a very tactile feel. Kids drag the shapes across a variety of surfaces. Later levels even require obstacles and tools to be dealt with. There’s no lite version for you to try out, but no worries; this game is worth it!

My only complaint is that the gradually increasing difficulty cannot be capped. There are 120 levels and my daughter gets frustrated around level 40 or 50. I have to go into the parental controls and reset the game to level 1. Seems like an easy/moderate/hard setting would fix that right up.

The developer of Busy Shapes has another game, Crazy Gears. It looks like a lot of fun for young engineers. But, my daughter isn’t quite old enough for that one yet.

toddler ipad gamesEndless Numbers

  • Developer: Originator
  • Price: $6.99 – $14.99 (Lite: Free)
  • iTunes Link

Endless Numbers is another great app that may be a little overpriced. If you buy the complete game with 100 numbers, it’s $15! Still, in the grand scheme of things, that’s only as much as a weeks worth of diapers.

This isn’t just toddler entertainment. Endless Numbers is brimming with educational value. It focuses on number recognition, sequencing, numerical patterns and simple addition. The numbers take the form of cute little talking monsters. Not that I’m going let the iPad be a permanent babysitter or preschool teacher, but if my daughter insists on playing a game for a few minutes on the weekends it might as well be educational. Right?!

Originator has also created similar games for older toddlers that work on the alphabet, vocabulary and even Spanish! I’ll surely be giving those a test run in the near future.


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