It’s an amazing time to be a parent, but with so much content it can be hard to find the good ones. Here are 7 great shows for toddlers that I’m grateful for.
It’s a whole new age of entertainment. Where once research groups, school bodies and concerned parents could definitely have been seen to be right in thinking that too much TV would rot a child’s brain, we live in a bold new world.
For one thing, all our media is now available via Over The Top (OTT) delivery means, which in short means we don’t have to sit through a billion ads while someone else controls the programming for us. We have full control over absolutely everything coming through our TV and into the minds of our children.
And I gotta say, the shows nowadays are absolutely outstanding. I’m sure grateful for a lot of books and products, but when it’s time for a bit of TV, there are some perfect shows nowadays that blend education, child psychology, development and most of all, fun. I remember quite a few shows growing up, but they’re not to the combination or calibre as some of the shows today, at least not for the real little ones.
That said, there’s also a lot of trash out there. Poor production values, bad moral lessons, and truly brain rotting content is still out there by the bucket. But the following shows make me smile every time I know my Kiddo is taking in. Here are 7 great shows for toddlers that I’m super grateful for. These shows make it feel like I’m raising a child in a laboratory to be the perfect child.
Ready Steady Wiggle
This has slowly moved to the bottom of the list over time as Kiddo has stopped enjoying it so much, but Emma Lachy Simon, Anthony too, are a great bunch of fun.
The Wiggles seem to have a whole bunch of different projects but Ready Steady Wiggle seems to be the best for the education and fun of young kids.
Colours, music, counting, even multiple languages – the Wiggles do a great job of covering the bases and keeping the energy and joy up.
Where to stream in Australia: Netflix and ABC iView, but a whole bunch of Wiggles content is also on YouTube
Disney/Owl City Music Videos
Not much to say on these, just some wholesome kid friendly fun musical content.
Where to stream in Australia: YouTube
Dora The Explorer
The newer Dora the Explorer has a lot of singing and problem solving for the young ones. Nickelodeon’s production values are top notch and you’ll be singing the Backpack song and telling Swiper to stop swiping in no time. Plus it’s super interactive and after reading more and more books on parenting and child development, the potential to increase a child’s autonomy by providing them multiple opportunities to own a decision is of super powerful, life altering levels of developmental benefit.
Dora and Boots have a lot of animal and human friends and this is another one that has a multi-lingual dimension. The older series hasn’t really worked so we dismissed it for a while but trying the latest episodes which are brighter and more musical has had great success.
Where to stream in Australia: Binge, with some smaller clips on YouTube
The new Sesame Street is pretty cool in that its lessons have been updated with the times. I remember a recent-ish episode where Big Bird is explaining to Elmo and the kids about how a tablet works and how you can video chat your friends with it. What a time to be alive where Big Bird is teaching kids (and possibly some of the parents in the audience) about technology, but it’s really good for the times we live in.
However, for whatever reason, Sesame Street hasn’t fully clicked yet. I think it’s still aimed at older audiences.
But Elmo’s World is different. Elmo’s World is a Sesame Street version of another show from Nickelodeon appearing later on the list where Elmo talks to the audience and learns about heaps of different topics which are great for kids, such as how smartphones and the Internet work, animals, places, sports, and celebrations. Plus each episode is 5 minutes long so it’s perfect for a short stint or time-filler when you need one.
This is the song, la la la-la. Elmo and his smartphone friend, Smartie, will be teaching your kids lots of fun, including to do their Happy Happy Dance Dance when they learn something new.
Where to stream in Australia: YouTube – honestly it seems every single episode is up there in one of the dozens of compilations they’ve put up, I would say it’s not worth trying to find it anywhere else
Veggie Tales/In The City/In The House
As a Christian, it’s really important to me as a dad to convey the message and lessons of the faith that has helped me so much in life, and let Kiddo decide once older on what decisions are to be made from there. I think every parent steers their child in the direction that is best from their own understanding of life in general, whether an explicit faith is involved or not (everyone is religious after all).
But I’m sad to report that besides Owlegories or Theo for older kids, I haven’t had much success in finding many good Christian shows besides the ones that were around when I was a kid. From the newer shows that have come out in recent years, their production values can be really low, they can be boring, and they can even have some bad theology.
Growing up I had heaps that were right for the time, such as Psalty, McGee and Me, Adventures in Odyssey, Carman Yo Kidz, SuperKid Academy, The Storykeepers and HannaThe Greatest Story Ever Told.
Unfortunately, they haven’t aged very well for a modern audience, unless you’re a dad who was born in the 80s who gets a kick out of his childhood theological content still. There are some pretty great Christian kids bands and people who have done dance videos over popular worship bands like PlanetShakers, but they’re not exactly in the “show” category with a story that teaches kids the lesson in point.
All that said, there is one show that has kept up with the times for children of all ages – Veggie Tales. Netflix bought the rights for some newer spins on the characters, and they’re actually still really great for good quality entertainment and faith based lessons. Some Christian parents cry fowl about the overtones being toned down somewhat but I actually think that makes the spiritual lessons more real to life as they’re more applicable in actual situations.
And of course, the original Veggie Tales series has aged very well (mostly), has lots of music and colour, and still some great lessons that I still remember to this day from Veggie Tales. In fact the older one has more musical moments which can be more engaging than the In The House/In The City counterparts, but they’re all good really.
Where to stream in Australia: NetFlix/YouTube, there are some other streaming services but they’re a bit expensive for their offering IMO
YouTube is full of “kids channels”. I went through some pretty long lists from almost every parenting site on recommended shows.
And they’re almost all… terrible. I’m sorry. They teach bad lessons, or they’re boring, or they’re not really aimed at kids. And we’ve all heard the horror stories of kids finding evil or terrifying characters in their kids content.
But! The king of streaming kids shows is almost all you need. His name is Blippi.
Blippi is a super exaggerated grown man who acts like a cartoon character, but who goes around the real world teaching kids about everything. I mean, everything. He’ll go to kids play centres and show them all the colours and shapes and foods that are there, and then he’ll go to the race track or the airport and teach them about vehicles, and then he’ll go to the food store or zoo and teach all about body parts and food types and whatever else he runs into.
The words pop up on screen, Blippi talks to kids with such zeal and also a sense of respect that it truly empowers kids to learn and make decisions, and the content is so broad and true to life that there are some really sophisticated concepts of the real world that get explained in a memorable way.
I can’t help but think the generation raised on Blippi will all be exceptional academics. I freaking love what Blippi is teaching my Kiddo and wish he was around when I was that age.
Just a small note that the original Blippi isn’t always around in the latest episodes and another actor sometimes plays him, which some kids don’t mind while others do. The original actor is a good place to start.
Where to stream in Australila: YouTube
Blue’s Clues and You
I’m just gonna say it – for kids under 5, there isn’t a better show. This is the king of the great shows for toddlers, and even for kids older.
This show was around as I was getting older so I missed it in my childhood, but the new series is so much better it’s not even comparable. More colours, more lessons, and more fun.
Josh, Blue, and their very happy animated house of characters will become besties to you and yours. The songs are super catchy and well produced, the subject matter is broad, and it is without a doubt the most fun educational show ever made.
There’s an episode where Blue the puppy goes to school and one of her classmates ruins a class project, making the kid very upset. Josh asks the audience, “Well, should he just give up, or should he try again?”. I remember immediately thinking I LOVE YOU JOSH YOU ARE TEACHING MY CHILD EMOTIONAL REGULATION!!
And where rainbows come from. And how to solve problems. And how to make friends. And how glasses work. And about dinosaurs and other animals. And about pattern recognition. The lessons that a single episode will go over I can’t help but think gives every child in the audience a massive headstart on so many things in their life.
Fun fact: Josh used to be an Aladdin understudy and once you know that you can’t unsee it or unhear it when he sings.
This is top tier kids education. But just a warning – you’ll have one of its many songs stuck in your head every time you see a rainbow, try to identify a dinosaur, go to grab a healthy snack, you’re happy to call someone a friend, or get the mail.
Where to stream in Australia: Binge, with a whole bunch of compilations and side stories on YouTube, and also worth a purchase on Google Play/YouTube
I know there’s a bunch out there that parents and kids love as well – Bluey, Paw Patrol, Cocomelon, Little Einsteins. We just haven’t had much success with these ones, yet. I find it’s older kids who are more into these ones, but we’ll see what time will tell.
Given how hard it’s been to find great shows for toddlers, I thought I would share ones that we’ve found are working really well… so far.
How about you? What are some great shows for toddlers that you’ve found work well?