Best Apps For 18 Month Old

Welcome to our 18 month old app roundup! In this article, we’ll be taking a look at all of the best apps for your little one.

If you have an 18-month-old, it’s likely that they’re already starting to understand what an app is and how it works. They’ve probably also started playing with their parents’ phones, tablets, and laptops. And if you’ve been reading about the latest research on technology and toddlers, you might be wondering how much screen time is too much for them.

Well, we’re here to help with both of those questions! In this article, we’ll walk you through the best apps for your 18-month-old so that they can get in some screen time without having it interfere with their development.

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We’ll also cover how much screen time is appropriate for your child’s age and offer tips on how to make sure they’re playing safely while they use technology.

The 7 Best Apps for Toddlers of 2022

Best Apps For 18 Month Old

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Toddler > Play & Activities
Best iPad Apps for Toddlers
Marygrace Taylor
Updated: January 6, 2021
best apps for toddlers
What to Expect selects products based on independent research and suggestions from our community of millions of parents; learn more about our review process. We may earn commissions from shopping links.

Best Overall Toddler App : Busy Shapes
Best Toddler App for 3-Year-Olds : Highlights Monster Day
Best Toddler App About Healthy Habits : Duckie Deck Collection
Best Animal-Themed Toddler App : Farm 123
Best Toddler App for Potty Training : Pepi Bath 2
Best Toddler App for Car Fans : Trucks
Best Ocean-Themed Toddler App : Fish School
Your little one has probably been trying to play with your iPad since she was old enough to grab it. (No matter how many times you take it away!) Now that she’s a toddler, you might have decided it’s time to loosen up the reins just a little bit and let her explore more. So what are some of the best age-appropriate apps to start with?

Despite the many caveats that come with little kids and screen time, there’s no shortage of toddler iPad apps that are both educational and engaging. The key is using apps with your child, instead of, say, handing her your tablet while you’re trying to get dinner ready. (Which can be tempting, we know.)

Using apps together can help her make connections between things happening on the screen and things that happen in her everyday life, which promotes learning.

As for when exactly it’s OK to start checking these out — and how often you should be using them? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months (unless it’s video chatting). You can let toddlers as young as 18 months be exposed to a little bit of digital media, but make sure you’re watching or playing along with her. Once your child turns 2, start watching the clock: She shouldn’t be in front of screens for more than an hour a day, tops.

Here are high-quality picks that your toddler — and you! — are guaranteed to love.

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Best Overall Toddler App
Busy Shapes
best apps for toddlers – busy shapes
Available at Apple starting at $3
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Why We Love It
This award-winning app is about more than teaching kids to recognize a circle or a square. It encourages your child to learn how objects of different shapes relate to each other, which can help promote sensorimotor development. Even cooler? The app adjusts the difficulty automatically, depending on how your LO tackles each level, to keep her challenged. This is one of many educational kids’ apps created by Edoki Academy, so you can always move on to a different one later.

In-app purchases? No

Best Toddler App for 3-Year-Olds
Highlights Monster Day
best apps for toddlers – highlights monster day
Available at Amazon
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Why We Love It
Developed by the children’s magazine Highlights, Monster Day is designed to help kids explore the world around them and foster kindness and compassion. After choosing a monster buddy, your little one can help her new pal through her daily routine — from feeding him bagels for breakfast to tucking him in at night. The app is technically for kids 3 and up, but with parental guidance, it’s tons of fun for older toddlers.

In-app purchases? Yes

Best Toddler App About Healthy Habits
Duckie Deck Collection
best apps for toddlers – duckie deck collection
Available at Apple starting at $3
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Why We Love It
Take advantage of your toddler’s natural urge to call the shots and discover new things with this beloved collection of colorful mini games. What happens when she picks fruits and veggies, feeds animals or turn on the lights? She’ll delight in finding out the answer each time.

In-app purchases? No

Best Animal-Themed Toddler App
Farm 123
best apps for toddlers – farm 123
Available at Amazon starting at $3
See Now
Why We Love It
In this interactive farm book, toddlers can hone their counting skills by helping Farmer Jo round up her animals. As your tot starts to learn her numbers, she can head to the back of the book to play mini games like finding, bathing or petting a certain number of animals.

In-app purchases? Yes

Best Toddler App for Potty Training
Pepi Bath 2
best apps for toddlers – pepi bath 2
Available at Amazon starting at $3
See Now
Why We Love It
Try this one when you’re ready to introduce potty training (or are just dealing with an I hate brushing my teeth/taking a bath/getting dressed phase). This role-playing app turns basic personal hygiene activities into a total blast. Your tot can care for her furry friends by helping them take a bath, brush their teeth, use the potty and more. Best case scenario? She gets excited to do all those things on her own.

In-app purchases? No

Best Toddler App for Car Fans
best apps for toddlers – trucks
Available at Amazon
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Why We Love It
Pull out this app next time you’re in a place where your truck-loving tot can’t crawl around with her favorite vehicles. She can run a truck through the mud and take it to the carwash, help fix a flat tire, make dirt piles with a dump truck, sort trash for the garbage truck and more.

In-app purchases? No

Best Ocean-Themed Toddler App
Fish School
best apps for toddlers – fish school
Available at Amazon
See Now
Why We Love It
Have a little one who loves playing with sea creatures in the tub or watching tropical fish swim around in their tank? Build on that interest with this underwater-themed app, which offers eight educational activities geared toward helping toddlers learn letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more.

In-app purchases? No

Best Toddler App for PBS Viewers
Play PBS Kids Games
best apps for toddlers – play pbs kids games
Available at Amazon
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Why We Love It
If your toddler loves Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or Dinosaur Train, she’ll go crazy for this app, featuring more than 120 educational games from beloved PBS shows. The games are geared for kids ages 2–8, so it’s worth previewing the app to find game options that are best suited for your tot.

In-app purchases? No

Best Toddler App for All Ages
Peekaboo Barn
best apps for toddlers – peekaboo barn
Available at Amazon starting at $2
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Why We Love It
Take a virtual farm visit to learn the names of animals and the sounds they make. Younger toddlers will get a kick out of opening each barn door to reveal a new furry friend, while older ones can try guessing which animal is which by listening to the sound they make.

In-app purchases? No

Best Musical Toddler App
Baby’s Musical Hands
best apps for toddlers – baby’s musical hands
Available at Apple starting at $1
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Why We Love It
Simple and fun, Baby’s Musical Hands was developed by a dad who wanted a fun app for his toddler son. Each of the 15 brightly colored squares plays a different piano, guitar or drum sound, encouraging budding Mozarts to flex their musical muscles.

In-app purchases? No

Best Simple Toddler App
best apps for toddlers – balls
Available at Apple
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Why We Love It
Toddler apps don’t have to be complex to be really, really fun. Your tot will love directing brightly-colored balls around the screen, which make a fun chiming noise when they hit each other.

In-app purchases? No

Best Toddler App With Planes
Sago Mini Planes
best apps for toddlers – sago mini planes
Available at Amazon starting at $4
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Why We Love It
Pick your airplane, get your passengers on board and go exploring! This app encourages budding aviators to fly through enchanting habitats and make exciting discoveries — like popping balloons mid-air, seeing rainbows or even catching up with flying pigs.

In-app purchases? No

Best Open-Play Toddler App
Eli Explorer
best apps for toddlers – eli explorer
Available at Apple starting at $2
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Why We Love It
Tots can tag along with Eli, a cute rabbit with propeller ears, to explore his colorful, interactive world in this open-play app. While playing, they’ll work on vocabulary development and understand the relationship between cause and effect.

In-app purchases? No

Best Food-Themed Toddler App
Bubl Ice Cream
best toddler apps – bubl ice cream
Available at Apple starting at $3
See Now
Why We Love It
Looking for a sweet twist on the average toddler learning app? Bubl Ice Cream lets your LO build her own ice cream cone, stacking each scoop on top of the other. With help from six adorable pals, she can also explore four different “worlds” and learn how to say ice cream in 18 different languages.

best apps for 18 month old free

Gadget Hacks


The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Give an 18-month-old a shoe, check back 10 minutes later, and it’s a very big maybe he will have it on his foot. But give him your smartphone, and in a mere five minutes, he can take 100 pictures of the carpet, send weird messages, and delete essential apps. Imagine what your child could do if they were able to harness this technical aptitude and put it to good use — and they can, with learning apps.

You are, however, likely to receive unsolicited advice from self-appointed experts about the evils of screen time. And while these “experts” may be doing it out of selfless concern for your child’s brain, it’s far more likely they just like to judge other people. The only thing worse is the guilt you place on yourself. But is all of this judgment and guilt necessary?

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Negativity, in the form of guilt or judgment, probably isn’t going to help anyone. And in the digital age, you probably don’t want to shield your child entirely from technology, as they will probably be inundated with it later. But we’re also not saying you should plant a smartphone in your 18-month-old’s hand, leave him or her to fend for his or herself, then head out to the Vegas Strip to party hard. (Kid needs to learn some self-reliance, right?)

It’s a crucial time during your child’s life for physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. Reading, play, talking, and sleeping are still very necessary in the real world, not the digital. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

Children aged 18 months to 2 years should be joined by a parent in viewing high-quality media to help them understand what they are seeing, and to make connections to the real world.

Sesame Street and PBS are cited as examples of quality digital media by AAP, but not a whole lot else. Perform a search for “toddler app” in Google Play or the Apple App Store, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the options. So what separates quality learning apps from those that are mindless entertainment (or worse yet, not even entertaining)?

Use Child, Content & Context to Pick the Right Apps
The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media (inspired by and dedicated to the legacy of Fred Rogers from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) identifies quality learning apps using child, content, and context attributes.

Child: The specific intellectual abilities, physical proficiencies, social-emotional needs, interests, and potential of your unique child, during different developmental stages, should be taken into account.
Content: The purpose of the media should be evident. It should include more than one of the following functions: presents new concepts, educates, fosters certain skills, and is engaging.
Context: It’s important for your toddler to receive human interaction in conjunction with the use of digital media. In other words, apps are not a suitable electronic babysitter. Also, certain apps may be more conducive to learning in specific settings, such as outdoors or at home.
Learn More About the 3 C’s in “Screen Time” by Lisa Guernsey (Amazon | Walmart)

Reach These Developmental Milestones After 18 Months
According to the cognitive section in the important milestones checklist for 18-month-olds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following learning, thinking, and problem-solving skills as minimum developmental achievements for most children just after 18 months.

Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon
Points to get the attention of others
Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed
Points to one body part
Scribbles on his own
Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say ‘sit down’.
If your child isn’t talking — or using at least six words at 18 months — it might not be anything to worry about, but the CDC does recommend mentioning it to your child’s pediatrician.

Many of the apps we’ve selected are geared toward the acquisition of first words and pre-reading stimulation. It’s usually not necessary or recommended to go on a regimented program to boost your child’s literacy or language skills; For children this age, these skills are typically attained through routine activities like talking, reading books, playing, and laughing. Use our recommended apps to chat with your child, and notice what types of topics, characters, and activities he or she is interested in. Then leverage those interests as learning opportunities.

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Apply the CDC’s Recommended Activities for 18 Months
While you aren’t going to find the CDC recommending app usage or any specific app, below is a list of some activities it does promote. These activities serve as a basis for the apps we are going to recommend, along with the above developmental guidelines. Note that this list is not all-inclusive.

Encourage pretend play.
Read books and talk about the pictures using simple words.
Copy your child’s words.
Use simple, clear phrases.
Ask simple questions.
Hide things under blankets and pillows and encourage him to find them.
Play with blocks, balls, puzzles, books, and toys that teach cause and effect and problem solving.
Name pictures in books and body parts.
Provide toys that encourage pretend play; for example, dolls, play telephones.
Consider the Cost of Paid vs. Free Apps
Some of the apps mentioned here require payment; some do not. There are some good free apps out there, but you might want to tread carefully for a couple of reasons. Free apps often include advertisements and in-app purchases. Having seen firsthand how difficult development can be, I am of the opinion that developers should be paid. So I am willing to shell out a few dollars for a well-designed app.

When it comes to apps that I use, if I don’t want to pay for an app, I consider ads to be the cost of my using said app. It’s a little bit of a different ballgame where my kid is concerned though. If the app has ads, you’ll want to consider the interaction your child will likely have with these ads. Perhaps more consequential still are in-app purchases, which could potentially cost you upwards of $200 for one app.

Try Our Favorite Cognitive Apps for 18-Month-Olds Out
We are favoring apps that meet the three C’s (child, content, context); criterion similar to the CDC’s developmental guidelines; and those that have activities comparable to what is recommended by the CDC.

Mostly, we looked for apps that encourage pre-reading stimulation. Luckily, most toddlers like story-time — although, it may be hard to sit still. At 18 months, most children can say at least a few words, and they can understand and point to more even words and objects than they can articulate.

The apps below are in no particular order, so the first isn’t necessarily the best.

App 1: Peekaboo Barn
Kids this age tend to be interested in animals and games of peekaboo, at least in general. And it sure doesn’t hurt for an app to be simple, as anything complex can become overwhelming and overstimulating. Peekaboo Barn is the right blend of those elements for an 18-month-old. Peekaboo Barn is not so simple that it loses its aptitude as a learning app; your child can still use it to become familiar with the names and sounds the animals make.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
If it’s in the cards and easily accessible, consider taking your child to a farm to see the animals and objects in real life. Many zoos also have these animals, or you could look at what you can find in your backyard.

Install Peekaboo Barn: Android (APK) | iOS
Currently, Peekaboo Barn is $1.99 on both Android and the iOS App Store. There is a “lite” version for iPhone and Android, but it only allows you to see three animals, then tells you to buy the full version.

App 2: Laugh & Learn First Words Fun
The Fisher-Price Puppy suite of apps is modeled after the Fisher-Price Smart Puppy talking stuffed animal. Like the stuffed animal, there are different levels and stages of “difficulty” in Laugh & Learn First Words Fun, depending on your child’s age.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Level 1 introduces first words animatedly. Level 2 teaches the concept of matching objects and reinforces first words. Level 3 breaks out the seasons. The blocks are fun to watch come to life as part of a seasonal scene and emphasizes the use of more words. Music videos are featured throughout.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Of course, your child still learns best through you. You can help your child label the objects they see on the screen. Your child will probably still need encouragement to tap, swipe, or point.

Install First Words Fun: Android | iOS
Laugh & Learn First Words Fun is free on both Google Play and the iOS App Store.

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn First Words Smart Puppy: Available at Amazon or Walmart

App 3: Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is more sophisticated than the previous two apps, both in what it teaches and asks your child to do, and regarding features. It offers seven games for children aged 2–5 (but I still use it with my 18-month-old) in eight different languages.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Instead of asking your child to match two objects they can see right in front of them, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox takes it to another level by not only asking him or her to match but also to remember where objects are (it’s the game “Memory”). While this might be too challenging for this age, my daughter seems to have a better memory than I do — unless I’m asking her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

These games and activities can help your child learn letters, colors, and the names of common objects. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox rewards your child with a sticker if they win a game (and your reward is that it won’t end up in your 18-month-old’s mouth). Although more complex than the previous two apps, its interface is still designed for a preschooler to navigate — not terribly difficult.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
The app abides by privacy standards. Games with “hidden” objects do tend to appeal to this age group. Potentially, although this might be a stretch, the app could further the acquisition of a different language.

Install Monkey Preschool Lunchbox: Android | iOS
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is available on both Google Play and the iOS App Store for $1.99.

Related Learning Toy on Amazon: Think Fun Roll and Play Game for Toddlers

App 4: PBS KIDS Games
Aside from PBS having been endorsed by AAP, the sheer breadth and quality of the PBS KIDS Games app is enough to take one’s breath away. There are over 90 free games with four separate categories to create, problem solve, measure, or read.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Of course, not all of these PBS KIDS Games will be suitable for your 18-month-old, but out of 90, surely some are. One downside to such a beast of an app is that there tend to be long waits for games within the app to load. Once you are able to get them to download, you can enjoy games modeled after educational television shows such as Sesame Street.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
If you are frustrated with the loading time, many of the apps are also broken out into individual offerings available in the app stores.

Install PBS KIDS Games: Android | iOS
PBS KIDS Games is free on both Google Play and the iOS App Store.

App 5: Puzzingo
Compared to the price of some of the other apps we’ve been dealing with, the cost of the “Pro” version of Puzzingo is staggering, but what’s more amazing is its approval rating. You can expect people to not hold back if they don’t like an app they’ve spent nearly $25 on, but parents and kids alike love this app. It does offer in-app purchases but is gracious enough to keep them behind “parent-gates.”

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Puzzingo can be considered a jigsaw puzzle and vocabulary builder in one, in multiple languages. There are even games within games, as once you complete a puzzle you are rewarded with a selection of mini-games.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
The app is also designed to help children with special needs such as autism and speech impediments. It covers a variety of subjects; including not only the obvious and common categories of shapes, ABCs, colors, music, and numbers being represented — but also cars, animals, princesses, trains, dinosaurs, planes, etc.

Install PUZZINGO Toddler Kids Puzzles : Android | iOS
Puzzingo’s pricing structure can vary greatly, depending on whether you want just a couple puzzles or the whole suite. The free version of the app is available on both platforms but allows you and your child to merely get your feet wet.

Additional puzzle packs can be purchased individually in-app for $2.99 each, or you can get the “All Puzzles Access Pass” for $24.99. Unfortunately, paid-for content may not transfer between devices.

App 6: Kids Academy Talented & Gifted
Kids Academy Talented & Gifted is an app with ample learning opportunities: over 5,000 learning activities are within. The activities include ABCs, numbers, songs, puzzles, matching, sorting, classification, geometry, money, measurement, phonics, sight words, vocabulary, reading comprehension, grammar, social studies, and science. If that sounds like a lot for an 18-month-old, don’t worry, because you follow a path from simple to more complex. There are flashcards and printable worksheets.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Kids Academy Talented & Gifted was developed with the input of child educators and psychologists. It offers a lot of guidance for parents and a lot of feedback for children. It involves and encourages problem-solving and critical thinking.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Downsides some users have mentioned include poor customer service, some device incompatibility, and issues with load time. Nonetheless, approval ratings are high in general.

Install Kids Academy Talented & Gifted: Android | iOS
Kids Academy Talented & Gifted can range from a full-on educational program to just a few activities. The free version is very limited. The “Gifted & Talented Membership” is the most expensive option at $129.00 (on Android) or $129.99 per year (on iOS). Other subscription-based options include $19.99 per month or $39.99 per quarter. An “All Access Pass” is also available for $97.99.

Smaller activities, such as coloring books, can be attained for $2.99. The “Preschool Kids Games & Puzzles: All in one Activity Center” is available for purchase for $14.99. Kids Academy offers its services and products to both parents and teachers. In fact, at the time of this writing, Kids Academy is running a special for teachers to get a month’s subscription for just a dollar.

App 7: Even Monsters Get Sick
If your child is in daycare at all, you are no doubt familiar with having to persuade your child to take his or her medicine. Even Monsters Get Sick is an interactive story app meant to make that battle a little bit easier.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
In Even Monsters Get Sick, Harry has acquired an adorable new pet monster, but something is wrong. As Harry tries to help his pet monster get well, you and your child can assist by taking part in six games, engaging in surprises on every page, and learning that perhaps going to the doctor and taking medicine doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Install Even Monsters Get Sick: Android (APK) | iOS
Even Monsters Get Sick is free on Google Play, but costs $0.99 in the iOS App Store.

App 8: Goodnight Mo
Bedtime may be another battle scene at this age. Here to help is Goodnight Mo, which is sleepy, soothing, and tender. Mo is another cute monster that you and your child can care for by helping him bathe, brush his teeth, and rock to sleep. In Goodnight Mo, there are 3D images, light interactions, and calming music throughout.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Careful that you don’t catch a case of the yawns. Another issue that I had with this app in particular is that my daughter loved it so much I thought I would never be able to pry the phone out of her hands. If you find that your child is liking the apps on your device a little too much, it’s possible to set app limits on games or other addictive apps on your iPhone in iOS 12 and in Android P.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
Battery drain is another issue, but you can find out what’s draining your battery and shut it down.

Install Goodnight Mo: Android | iOS
Goodnight Mo currently costs $4.99 on Google Play and the iOS App Store.

App 9: Barnyard Games for Kids
Barnyard Games for Kids Free has a lot on lockdown without payment, but “Tap Farm” is fun for having your child identify by pointing (tapping) outdoor objects and animals.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
The app is very simple, but with room for growth opportunities as your child gets older and if you are willing to pay more, of course. The app introduces and/or enforces the concept that we share our planet with animals — or at least, the most common ones you might find on a farm.

The Best Learning Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds
A simple activity to engage in during app use is to ask your child to identify the name of each animal or object, what sound it makes, and/or to point or tap on it.

Install Barnyard Games for Kids: Android | iOS
Barnyard Games for Kids is available for free, but you can only access two games. For both Android and iOS, $3.99 is required to unlock all 14 games.

Wrapping Up
Technology isn’t going away anytime soon, so why not make the best of it? Of course, you will want to use a balanced approach and include many off-screen learning opportunities for your child as well.

What learning apps would you recommend to other parents with an 18-month-old? With so many apps available, we’d love to hear what you have to add to the list.

Don’t Miss: The Best Socialization Apps on Your Phone for 18-Month-Olds

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