My fellow parents, I'm going to start by saying what we're all thinking: Kids are the worst.
Engaging with them, talking to them, getting them to focus on anything for single second. Sometimes -- and I'm not judging -- you just need to sit them in front of the TV so you can find somewhere safe to cry.
But choosing something for your kids to watch is challenging. There's just so much out there! Here is a list of TV shows for kids that I think are the absolute best. The following list is mostly personal preference. But I've tried to add shows that...
- I know my kids enjoy.
- Have some educational value.
- Aren't horrific for adults to consume.
Best Shows For Kids aged 0 and above
If you live in Australia and you have kids, you'll absolutely have heard of Bluey. If you're in the US please, please hop onto Disney Plus and give it a try.
Bluey is a series of short, seven minute shows about a blue heeler pup called Bluey and his family. Why is Bluey so good? Hard to explain. It's truthful, heart-warming and will ring true with both kids and parents. My children are obsessed with the show and, every time I sit to watch, I find myself oddly engrossed. Some episodes have almost reduced me to tears!
Simple, delicate and just perfectly put together. It makes me want to be a better parent.
Created by Tomm Moore, the man behind the Oscar nominated Song of the Sea, Puffin Rock is a show about two Puffins living off the coast of Ireland and it's insanely charming. Maybe the most wholesome show on this list. Your kids will learn life lessons, Irish wildlife and maybe stop arguing with one another for at least five minutes.
I'm putting Booba in this list grudgingly. Mainly because my youngest kid watches it endlessly, loves it and constantly asks to watch it. It's very slapstick and very silly, but it's also harmless fun.
Best shows for Kids aged 4 and above
Every single kid goes through a "super into animals and wildlife" phase. Wild Kratts is perfect for those kids. Follow the Kratts as they try to save animals under threat. Seriously, this is one of the best disguised educational shows out there.
Dinosaur Train does the Wild Kratts thing of teaching kids while entertaining them. This time round the focus is, not surprisingly, dinosaurs. Which is good news because kids of all ages tend to adore dinosaurs. Also good news: This is a well produced TV show and your kids will love it. Bad news: The theme song is an ear worm. Seriously, mute that thing.
My kids have started bingeing the hell out of Space Jungle when I'm not looking. It's a Korean slapstick show on Netflix with zero dialogue about small space creatures who've landed on earth. It's got a weird augmented reality look about it, combining real life videos with cartoon style CGI layered over the top. It's... definitely something.
Octonauts, like Wild Kratts, is one of those perfectly made educational shows. This one focuses on the ocean and disguises itself as one of those old school 'squad' shows. Think 'Thundercats' under the sea. There's also a huge Star Trek homage thing going on, which is great. Absolutely cannot go wrong with this show.
Best shows for kids aged 7 and above
There are a few Sonic cartoons available to watch on Netflix and the quality ranges from "so bad it's an internet meme" to "what the hell, this show has no right being this good". Sonic Boom is the "what the hell, this show has no right being this good" one. Just super sharp writing that'll appeal to kids and adults alike.
Odd Squad is a live action show that parodies the Naked Gun style police procedurals and uses it to… teach mathematics?
It's sort of fantastic and surprisingly well acted by its cast of kids. Your children are in safe hands watching this one.
Ask The Storybots
Netflix has done a wonderful job with its children's content, but Ask The Storybots might be the best of the bunch. Sort of like Sesame Street with robots, each Storybots episode focuses on answering some sort of big question like "how do aeroplanes fly?" Or "how do computers work?" It's fantastic.
Best shows for kids aged 9 and above
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender is currently on Netflix and it's an absolute masterpiece. Set in a world where humans are divided into tribes based on the elements, we follow Aang, a young 'Avatar' who can control all elements and is destined to bring balance to all the tribes. One to watch even if you don't have kids. Warning: I tried this with my six-year-old and he loved it, but got a bit too hyper after watching. I reckon it's best pitched at 9-year-olds and above.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
This reboot of the old 80s kids series is honestly incredible. I found myself watching this show long after my kids had gone to sleep. It's funny, sharp and really great in terms of representation across every possible spectrum. I have two (rambunctious) boys and they loved it. In fact, despite the fact it's targeted at young girls, it's a great show for boys to watch as well.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts absolutely falls in the category of shows that are great for kids, but just as good for adults. Set in a universe where strange animals dominate while humans live underground, this is very much a show about resilience and the power of friendship. Common, good themes. This is one of the best kids shows on Netflix.