20 Best Apps for One-Year-Olds
I have two sons, Philip (three years old) and Noah (one year old). Every time I meet other parents at Philip's school, they always ask me this question: "What are the best iPad apps that I can get for my juniors?" So when Noah had his first birthday last August, I compiled a list of 20 iPad apps that I would personally recommend to anyone with a one-year-old toddler.
Note: If your junior is 18 months old or older, you might want to check our list of 20 recommended apps for 2-year-olds.
I feel that a curated list like this is a good resource for parents everywhere. That is why I am determined to update it with new apps and possibly create other lists that may be helpful to other parents. One rule that I try to impose is to not increase the number of apps included in the list. Rather, I will remove apps that are no longer relevant as I add in new ones.
Similar to the previous list, I will categorize the apps into six categories: alphabet, reading, math, animal, musical, and miscellaneous apps.
Some of the best iPad apps for one-year-olds.
Some people may argue that it is too early to teach a one-year-old toddler to read, but based on my own experience and expert opinion, they can learn to recognize letters and phonics. I've seen the progress of both my sons in recognizing letters before they turned two, using various iPad apps. I am confident that the following apps will help your toddlers learn the alphabet.
. A special app that we made for Philip. The app focuses on getting toddlers to recognize alphabets based on their sounds and spell out animal names. We designed a unique parental report that will provide statistics on your toddlers' progress within the app and the letters they struggled with.
. A simple activity app in which toddlers can play a matching game with both lower case and upper case letters in their written forms or using their sounds. You will see Alien Buddies again later in this list because it offers various activities to hone multiple skills.
Faces iMake - ABC
. Part-alphabet, part-puzzle app that introduces juniors to letters by solving puzzles. Hones spatial skills, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills. It also has beautiful graphics and funny sound effects that will keep juniors interested.
Fish School HD
. A cute little app where fishes get together to form letters from A to Z. This app was influential for Philip as he learned lots of things from it, like the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and the ABC song. We had a lot of fun with this app and now, Noah seems to like it too.
Mini-U: Zoo Alphabet
. Similar to most alphabet apps, Mini-U: Zoo Alphabet associates letters with animal names. But, it stands out because of the unique animation and mini activities that accompany each animal. For example, you can trace the tracks of a Mouse as it gathers cheese pieces, count the number of eggs a Quail would lay, and many more.
. A very beautiful app that Apple featured
in the video for the iPad Mini launch. The way the app cleverly hides letters inside beautiful illustrations makes both Philip and Noah excited to play and learn with the app.
I think that as parents, we should encourage toddlers to appreciate stories and to learn to read as early as possible. If you and your child read bedtime stories together, these apps would fit right in. If you don't, well, I hope these apps encourage you to try.
Even Monsters Get Sick
. How many times have you tried giving medicine to your toddlers when they got sick? I don't know about you, but for me, it is not always an easy thing to do. If you are having trouble with this, you definitely should read this story to your toddlers. You will thank me later.
Nighty Night HD
. If you find it difficult to get your juniors to bed whenever they're playing on the iPad, you should read this beautiful storybook with them. The narrator's calming voice guides your juniors to ask the animals in the farmhouse to go to bed by turning off the lights. In the final activity, the app asks you to turn off your own lights and go to bed since apparently you're the only one who is still awake.
The Going to Bed Book
. This app is a great adaptation of a a popular children board book
by Sandra Boynton, in which we follow a group of animals preparing for bed aboard a ship. It has a sleepy story, subtle interactions, and soothing sounds--perfect for lulling juniors to sleep.
Toy Story Read Along
. If you have not taken your juniors to watch the 1995 classic, Toy Story Read-Along is a great way to get them familiar with the franchise. I also recommend you to check out Toy Story Showtime!
, in which Buzz tries impress Jessie in a toy talent show.
One of the math skills that one-year-old toddlers can achieve is recognizing the numbers from 1 to 10. By the time they turn two, they should be able to get as far as 20. There are plenty of apps that can help your juniors with numbers. Here are some of the best ones:
. Yup, it is Alien Buddies again. Trust me, this is a good app. With this app, your juniors can learn how to match numbers from 1 to 50.
Fish School HD
. This long-time favorite in my family has a great activity involving numbers: a school of cute fish will form the numbers from 1 to 20. There is also a fun counting activity where you tap on the eggs on the bottom of the screen to crack them.
. A unique app that teaches kids to count with their fingers. The app can track your fingers on the screen and show how many there are. It is a fun and innovative way to learn finger counting.
. This app teaches your juniors to count from 1 to 20 with a very catchy song, which everyone in our family loves to sing along. I would recommend it just for the song, but the app has much more than that.
One of the most common things that you can introduce to one-year-old toddlers is animals. Here are several apps that can assist you:
. We made Akzara to introduce animals in addition to letters and spelling. Each animal in the app is cutely illustrated. You can also hear real animal sounds when you touch the illustrations.
Animal Track HD
. A unique app that focuses on an animal aspect most people overlook: footprints. I had a lot of fun playing the inverse mode, where we try to identify an animal by its footprints.
Mini-U: Zoo Alphabet
. In this app, you can even rare animals like Cheetah, Chimpanzee, Comodo Dragon, Emu, Hedgehog, Heron, Meerkat, Porcupine, Shark, Snail, Viper, and Xerus. Even better, this great app will continue to add new animals in future updates.
. An app that showcases 15 unique sea creatures, from crabs and jellyfishes to pelicans and garden eels. The animals do not immediately show themselves; you must tap the screen to call them out. A lovely and playful app for one-year-olds and even younger toddlers.
. This app helps your juniors recognize letters and introduces them to lovely illustrations, stories and characteristics of various animals.
Toddlers are always interested in musical apps, from karaoke to instruments and soundboard apps. Here are some of the great apps in this category:
Fish School HD
. I should probably give an award to their ABC song; it has been played hundreds of times at our home and probably will be for hundreds more. The fish animation that goes along with the song is adorable, and will entice young children to learn the alphabets.
Little Fox Music Box
. The most beautiful musical app I have ever played with. It has excellent animations, beautiful illustrations, and an interactive juke box. Noah really loves the London Bridge song that you can find in the app.
. This app has a great counting song, and the contextual voice-over in each activity motivates your juniors to play with the app over and over again.
. A fun way for your juniors to learn about music, sound, and rhythm. I have already lost track at how many times the Toca Boca song has been played at our home. This is the first of many Toca Boca
apps that are included in this list--I am a big fan of their works.
There are still a lot of apps that do not belong to any of the above categories, yet they are equally important to support toddlers' education and growth. These apps boost their creativity, introduce them to professions, and engage them in free play.
Memoria (Pairs Matching Game)
. Memoria is a cute and simple tile-based image matching game that offers a great deal of customization. You can import 20 photos to create a personalized game for your juniors, and add captions to your cards.
Toca Hair Salon 2
. The sequel to Toca Boca's bestselling app, Toca Hair Salon. The new app builds upon the original and improves it by adding new characters and tools, as well as visual and technical enhancements. You can now curl, straighten, and even chop off all of the characters' hairs. It really is a fun app!
Toca Robot Lab
. This is my, Philip’s, and Noah's favorite app. We all love Toca Robot Lab and have a lot of fun with it. I didn't expect creating robots from scraps to be this fun!
. Another great role-playing app from Toca Boca where your juniors can design their own clothings. A creative feature is the ability to import textures and patterns from the real world, so yo get an almost unlimited choice of fabrics. Take a look at the Toca Tailor website
to see what parents and juniors around the world are designing each week.
Well, folks. These are all the great apps that have been personally influential in my family. I hope you can also find values in many of them. I will keep this list up-to-date based on my exposure to new apps and how Noah interacts with the apps. If you want to be notified of these updates, I suggest you to subscribe to our newsletter.
Note: This list has just received its second update on Mar 2, 2013 to include four new app recommendations.