Digital Babysitters: Recommended TV Shows For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Oh, so you NEVER let your 3 or 4 year old watch any TV ever? Ever EVER? You’re either part of the .00001% of rare breeds of superhuman that make for perfect parents OR … your pants are on fire.

If your kid’s anything like mine, her first question EVERY single morning is, “So where are we going today?” followed by some version of, “Let’s GO, Mom! The SUN IS UP! GET UuuUUUUuUUUUP!” And, on days when you’re not chauffeuring her around, she asks you every 5 minutes to play with/help/make/see/fix/move/do something. You know, because our child-centric living room filled with arts & crafts materials and toys that would make any indoor play place look deserted  is STILL not enough to keep her busy…………

WELL, in those moments, the TV or iPad seems like such a lifesaver.

Sometimes, you just REALLY need that 20mins of time to hide in the restroom and eat something out of your daughter’s Halloween loot of 6 months ago while you talk to Delta about the transatlantic flight you’d like to book…. or….. do things like this, right here. It’s all about finding a healthy balance for you and your kids.

The good thing is, children’s TV today is SO much better than a lot of the mindless junk it was 20 years ago.



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 1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (5/5 on Common Sense Media)
I am such a HUGE fan of this show for social/emotional growth. It addresses many of the common challenges that our little ones face and, fittingly, my daughter even sings the songs whenever it’s relevant. It discusses big milestones like first days of school or new siblings and day to day challenges like feeling scared at night or trying new food. Zee would sing Grown Ups Come Back when she or kids at her previous preschool would get upset at drop off or If You Have To Go Potty when she or a friend needs to go to the restroom. Some of our other favorites include When You WaitFind a Way to Play TogetherUse Your Words, and When You Feel So Mad. Great kid music that also offers ideas for topics to discuss with kids in the car….Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Zee’s Rating: 5/5

Zee LOVED it at ages 2 & 3, at 4 prefers other shows but still wants to listen to the music in the car. May just be bored.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Videos, YouTube, DVR

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2. Sid the Science Kid (4/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show really encourages kids to ask unique questions and seek answers through research, hands-on exploration, and focused observation. My daughter started watching it when she was around 2, and it introduced her to insightful concepts like how the fruits we buy and other things go through a process of change and eventually decay, how our lungs work, and why it’s important to brush your teeth. Jokes can be a bit lame, but my kid’s idea of a joke is saying, “Grasshoppers doing jumpingjacks!”Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Zee’s Rating: 5/5

Zee LOVED it at ages 2 & 3, at 4 prefers other shows but still wants to listen to the music in the car. May just be bored

Where to Watch: Netflix

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3. Team Umizoomi (4/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show is pretty great for it’s implementation of early math concepts including counting, shapes, patterns, and measurements. I had the song, “Dodecahedron” stuck in my head for weeks when we first watched that episode. Oh, GREAT. It’s back. Eeaaaaarrrrwoooorrrmmmmm.Mom’s Rating: 4/5
Zee’s Rating: 4.5/5

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Videos

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4. Super WHY! (4/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show takes (sometimes odd or irrelevant) situations that children might encounter (not wanting to share) and finds answers through popular fairy tales and children’s stories. Children are given the opportunity to change the course of the story by replacing words while, in the process, slowly learning to recognize letters/words.Mom’s Rating: 4/5
Zee’s Rating: 4.5/5

Where to Watch: Netflix

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5. Peg + Cat (5/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show instills an early love for math. One major gripe I have about this show is Peg’s tendency to say, “I am totally freaking out!” What a little drama queen. My daughter picked that one up early, too. *eyeroll* Also, there is an episode about Peg’s alien friend coming from a planet without toilets and having accidents all over someone’s house. So they taught him how to use a toilet, because otherwise they’d have to leave. Some parents may disagree with the potential association between accidents and shame, but my daughter wasn’t really affected by it, as evidenced by the many times Lysol wipes and vinegar were used for cleaning up the floor after watching this episode at least five times at her request.Mom’s Rating: 3.5/5
Zee’s Rating: 4/5

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Videos

– Yo Gabba Gabba
– Tumble Leaf
– Little Einsteins
– Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
– Doc McStuffins

– Bubble Guppies
– Octonauts

– Shimmer and Shine
– Sofia the First
– Backyardigans
– Elena of Avalor
– Dora and Friends
– Dora the Explorer
– Peppa Pig

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