There are many apps for babies and toddlers in the App Store, Play Store and other stores and it can be difficult to know where to start.
For very young children, apps that promote sensory play (sound, vision and touch) and develop early skills, such as understanding cause and effect and hand-eye co-ordination, are to be recommended.
There are many lullaby and nursery rhyme apps on the market, but it is best to look around as some are made outside of the UK and can contain words and phrases that will be unfamiliar to children. Apps that feature favourite games are appealing, such as peek-a-boo, or apps that enable children to become familiar with everyday objects.
Open-ended apps, which do not require prescribed outcomes, can encourage play and creativity. Children also like apps that they can help motivate them in their daily routines, such as brushing teeth. Some apps enable children to personalise them, so their photograph can be inserted into the story, and so on. And of course, apps that reflect children’s own interests, whether that is TV characters, animals, dinosaurs and/ or cars, for instance, are appealing. Keeping children’s apps in a folder of their own on the tablet desktop can encourage independence and also means they get the idea that some apps are not for them!
Whilst very young children are most unlikely to be using apps that give them online access without an adult alongside them, it is best to develop safety strategies from the beginning. For advice on managing safety issues, see the advice and resources on the UK Safer Internet website.
We recently completed a research project which looked at how far apps promote play and creativity for pre-schoolers and have produced a leaflet for parents that provides further guidance on choosing apps, which can be downloaded here.