Parents have plenty of options when it comes to tablet-based activities for babies and toddlers. Anybody who has ever used a tablet around a toddler knows how candy-like they can be for kids. But before you and your little one get started, it's important to get educated.
Introducing very young children to technology is controversial. Some experts say children under 2 should have no exposure to such media at all. Still other studies insist that babies benefit from being given tablets "from birth." Keep abreast on the latest findings if you plan to let your baby use a tablet, and consider limiting tablet time.
Talk to your pediatrician
When it comes to child development, nothing beats physical engagement and active exploration in the real world, pediatricians and child development experts say. Before you start loading up the interactive Dr. Seuss, talk with your pediatrician to discuss possible hazards, and to determine what's best for you and your baby.
If you do decide to introduce your baby to a tablet (two words: plane trip) then there are plenty of options.
The best ones? Apps that won't drive parents to drink. With Rockabye Baby, moms, dads and babies can listen to rock songs covered in baby-friendly form, and even watch videos to accompany them. Turns out, the Grateful Dead can write a mean lullaby.
This free app from Google Play stimulates the senses of hearing, sight and touch and features a topic that most kids can't resist: furry wild animals. Designed for children 18 months and up, it is available in Spanish and English.
Green Eggs and Ham
They can't read yet, but babies still can experience the Dr. Seuss classic interactively on iOS or Android. A fun way to introduce your child to vocabulary, literature and nonsensical rhyme, the app received a gold medal at the Mom's Choice Awards (2012) and it's also featured in Parents Magazine's "Best Education Apps for Kids" list.
Baby Color Smasher
This free app may be a tad addicting, but it's not mindless...unless you think Jackson Pollock was mindless. Here, your baby can splash virtual paint drops all over the tablet screen. It's a great way to develop hand-eye coordination and learn the colors of the rainbow.
ASL Baby Sign
Yep: American Sign Language for babies. Optimized for iPhone and iPad, the app also teaches kids their ABCs with more than 26 A-Z flashcard images and 170 ASL videos.
Learning Letters Puppy
This playful game from Fisher-Price encourages a baby to interact with sing-along songs, animation and sound effects. There are many features, including learning letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more. Kids can even tilt the tablet to hear Puppy giggle.
Slide & Spin
This title from MyFirstApp.com, designed for kids over 18 months, helps babies fine-tune cognitive and motor skills. The approach? Think of it as a simplified version of Tetris.
Who Makes This Sound?
This interactive game from Baby TV features a cute Aussie redhead asking your baby to match the animal's picture with the sound they make. Baby TV seeks to address the full spectrum of early learning skills and development milestones a child encounters.
This activity features classic children's songs with a fun vocal track and a sing-along option, accompanied by acoustic instruments. There's also an animated lyrics page to encourage early reading and comprehension of numbers.
Wheels on the bus
Babyhood is not complete without this song. The app has various musical instrument choices such as the cello, piano and kazoo, and a child can listen to the song in five languages. The app has won multiple awards, including the Parents' Choice Gold Award.
Laugh & Learn Shapes & Colors Music Show for Baby
This app allows a baby to tip and tilt the tablet, teaching cause and effect, shapes, colors, first words and more. This one is good for the younger crowd of 6 months and up.