The 10 Best Shows for Toddlers
As a parent, you’ve probably heard a lot of mixed messages when it comes to allowing your child to watch television. In fact, for a long time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) pushed a steadfast “no screens” policy for young children.
However, recent research has caused the group to change its stance — and has parents across the nation changing their views, as well.
According to Shelley Pasnik, the director of the Center for Children & Technology, actively watching television alongside their parents can help children learn, communicate and grow.
But not all television shows are created equal.
That’s why we’re sharing the 10 best shows for toddlers that will have them learning and loving every moment.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
This PBS Kids animated series is a new take on the classic “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” It follows 4-year-old Daniel Tiger (donning a red sweatshirt) as he talks to the audience and teaches them important concepts like emotional intelligence, kindness, and respect. Each episode also features an easy-to-remember musical number that reinforces that day’s lesson. You can stream select episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for free on PBS Kids and the PBS Kids YouTube channel.
This Australian animated series quickly became an international hit, and thanks to Disney+, is now available for U.S. audiences. The critically acclaimed show follows Bluey and Bingo, two cartoon dog siblings, as they develop imaginative and silly games that even their parents join in on. Throughout each episode, your child will learn about the importance of pretend play, along with a number of heartwarming lessons — including the value of family.
- Peg + Cat
While it’s hard to imagine a show about math being entertaining enough to keep a toddler engaged, the PBS Kids classic “Peg + Cat” does it with ease. This math-based adventure show follows Peg and Cat as they work together to solve real-life math problems. The animated series is meant for kids ages 3-5, and select episodes can be streamed for free on PBS Kids and PBS Kids YouTube.
- Gabby’s Dollhouse
If you’re looking to instill a growth mindset into your toddler, look no further than the Netflix original “Gabby’s Dollhouse." This half-animated, half-live action series follows Gabby, an 11-year-old obsessed with cats. In each episode, she shrinks down into the animated world of her dollhouse and explores life lessons with the different cats that live inside. In addition to helping your kid believe they can do anything they put their mind to, this show will also help them see how to turn mistakes into learning experiences.
- Beat Bugs
This Netflix animated series takes classic Beatles songs and turns them into life lessons that will have your kids engaged and entertained. Each episode follows a set of five child-like bugs living in a backyard and dealing with things like the neighborhood cat, radio-controlled trucks, and more. As a parent, you’ll also love the big-time cameos throughout the show — including ones from stars like Rod Stewart and Jennifer Hudson.
- Puffin Rock
“Puffin Rock” is an Irish-created animated series that will help your child fall in love with nature and the world around them. Each episode takes place on Puffin Island and follows young puffin siblings Oona and Baba as they explore their surroundings. The show has received several award nominations (including an International Emmy), and a movie based on the series is currently developing. In the meantime, the first two seasons can be found on Netflix.
- Tumble Leaf
This Amazon original teaches toddlers about patience via a stop-motion animated fox named Fig and his caterpillar friend, Stick. Together, the two explore the island of Tumble Leaf and learn about science, math, and other topics from the island residents. While the show ended in 2019, all four seasons can be streamed for free on Amazon Prime.
- Elinor Wonders Why
Toddlers are naturally curious, and no animated show taps into the power of that quite like PBS Kids’ “Elinor Wonders Why.” The animated series follows a curious bunny who asks questions about things she doesn’t understand (like why owls sleep in the morning) and then uses science skills to find the answers. Each show also features a quick story from Elinor’s teacher Ms. Mole or a catchy song from Señor Tapir. Select episodes can be streamed for free on PBS Kids.
- Sesame Street
It wouldn’t be a complete list of the best shows for toddlers without this classic. First introduced in the 1960s, “Sesame Street” has helped generations of kids learn everything from numbers to letters to social and emotional skills. The educational series has won 205 Emmy Awards and 11 Grammy Awards and is one of the longest-running shows in the world. You can stream episodes almost anywhere, including HBO Max, YouTube TV, and PBS Kids.
- Little Einsteins
Rounding out our list is this fun-packed show that explores unique topics like the arts and musical appreciation. The show follows a cast of friends as they adventure off on various missions and often encourages viewer interaction (including things like patting your knees and singing along). It’s currently available for streaming on Disney+.
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