Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baby Apps

When we were planning our trip to Arizona last spring, I was worried about taking Abe on a plane for the first time. How would he react to being stuck in our laps for so long? How would we keep him happy? How could we prevent him from screaming for three hours straight? In an effort to prepare myself for the worst, I loaded up my iPad with his favorite books, family photos, and a few apps that seemed like they would be entertaining for a seven month old. Luckily, he loved flying so the iPad stayed tucked away for most of the trip.

Fast forward to our recent trip to New Orleans. Now that Abe was able to climb and walk I knew he wouldn't want to sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time. I downloaded a few more apps and off we went. He seemed to enjoy flying even more than the first time and spent much of his time looking out the window, playing peekaboo or chatting with nearby passengers, and dozing off for a couple good naps, but when he was awake and started to fidget I was glad I had my iPad. For a baby that rarely gets any screen time, the iPad is a novel distraction.

I'm really picky about which apps I let him use, so I always try out any new apps first. To make the cut an app has to be fun, appealing to look at (and listen to!), easy to use, at least somewhat educational, and can't contain links for ads, easy to access in-app purchases, or other content that leads baby out of the game and into the "real" world. These are a few that we love...

1. Baby Painter - $0.99

I searched a long time for a finger painting app that a baby could use and finally found this one. No colors to choose or brushes to select. No confusing menus or buttons. Just a blank white screen waiting to be touched. And when baby touches it...colors appear at their fingertips! The color changes each time baby lifts a finger off the screen, and if using more than one finger, each finger makes a different color. Press harder and the lines get thicker. It's so simple. It's so smart. It's so clean! To erase, pick up the iPad Etch-a-Sketch style and give it a shake. Want to save your baby's masterpiece? Take a screen shot! (Also great for tic-tac-toe, hangman, and other games kids normally play on foggy car windows.)

2. Baby Look Peekaboo - $0.99

Another easy app for babies, this one features a baby face that pops up at the edge of the screen, wherever baby touches, and says "peekaboo," "hi," or "hello." The baby's voice is sweet and the tone changes to keep it from getting too annoying or repetitive.

3. Peekaboo Vehicles - $1.99

I found this the other day after searching endlessly for an app that would appeal to my car loving kid. Normally I wouldn't pay two bucks for a baby game, but I purchased Peekaboo Ocean awhile back (after trying the free version for awhile) and we love it. Since Peekaboo Vehicles is made by the same company, I felt pretty confident that it would be just as much fun. My son loves it and it's easier for him to use than Peekaboo Ocean (which is why that one didn't make this list). In addition to cars, Peekaboo Vehicles also contains trains, trucks, tractors, rockets, planes, helicopters and more! Touch the screen to clear away the clouds and an animated vehicle appears, along with the name which the narrator reads. Touch the screen again and the vehicle will move along producing a puff of exhaust that gets cleared away to reveal the next vehicle. The animations are super cute and the sounds the vehicles make are realistic and fun.

4. Monster Chorus - Free, in-app purchases $0.99 each

I found this one while searching for a baby piano app. Cute, easy to use, and it has monsters in outer space. What could be better? Each monster sings a different note when you touch it, and there's a songbook that shows you which monsters to press to play four different songs (two more sets of songs are available as in-app purchases). Unfortunately, the record and songbook buttons are in a bad spot (lower left hand corner) and get pushed accidentally quite often. It's not too hard for baby to navigate back to the main page, but it takes a few seconds which sometimes results in a lose of interest. As a free game though, it's really one of the best!

5. Wood Puzzle HD Lite - Free (Full version available for $1.99)

I knew my son was too young for this when I first downloaded it, but once he figured out how to turn on and unlock the iPad, I figured it was time to give puzzles another try. Just slide the pieces into place. The shape puzzle tells you the name of each shape as it's put in place, the animal puzzle makes animal noises. My son loves it, and at 14 months he was able to solve the easiest puzzles by himself! I downloaded the full version, but I recommend the Lite version for younger kids. All of the easiest puzzles are on the Lite version, so once baby has mastered those, go ahead and buy the rest! (There are also three holiday puzzles I wasn't aware of when I had the free version. From the main page, swipe your finger across the screen to get to a second menu with the holiday puzzles.)

6. I Hear Ewe - Free

When I was a kid we had one of those Fisher Price "The Farmer Says" Toys. This is the modern day version... Tap a picture of an animal (or vehicle - there are three different pages) and the narrator (which sounds an awful lot like Al Gore) says "This is the sound a _____ makes..." followed by the sound. It's cute, easy to use, and free! 

So those are a few of our favorites. Do you have any favorite apps for your kids? Or discovered any great app makers? I'd love to know what else is out there!


  1. This is EXACTLY what I've been searching for to help keep my little 16 month old quiet on our long flight from PA to UT. He also rarely gets screen time so I know he'll be very interested and entertained by these. Thank you for sharing your top picks! I was clueless as to what is good out there since the I-pad belongs to my husband.

  2. Consider checking out What Face? - a completely free, completely fun app for babies! Faces, shapes, patterns, colors, textures, noises, and surprises... perfect for babies who love playing with the iPhone (but who can't do much more than tap and laugh!). Free on the App Store at!

  3. I'm going on my first plane ride with my almost 1 year old tomorrow. Will be downloading all of these. I'm so nervous. Hope these help and that she loves flying like your little one did.

  4. Thank you for sharing these ideas!! Will definately go get a few tonight!