Is Your Toddler Ready to Skype? The Best Tablets for Babies
The line between adult tech gadgets and children’s toys is now officially blurred. Just look around at how many toddlers and preschoolers you see playing on their parents’ expensive tablet computers. Some parents have even gone so far as to buy expensive iPads for their young kids, hopefully with the optional insurance and protective cases to protect against the inevitable drops from tiny fingers.
For those parents who want to introduce their toddlers to tablet computing before they can walk or talk, here are some of the best available options.
For many parents, the first tablet and the one millions of grown-ups already depend on is just fine for toddlers, too. The Apple iPad series is widely considered the Cadillac of tablets, with a hip style, user-friendly design and access to thousands of apps made just for kids. Despite the high price tag – iPads generally cost between $329 and $1,000, depending on the model and storage space — for many parents, the iPad is the best choice for their youngsters.
Molly Thornberg, the married mother of four young kids and blogger behind the leading parenting-technology blog www.digitalmomblog.com, recommends the iPad even for younger users. The wealth of educational and fun apps for kids available on the iPad’s iOS operating system compared to rival devices that run the Android operating system make the iPad a smart pick, Thornberg said.
“When it comes to little ones and tablets, I always recommend the Apple iPad,” Thornberg said. “While the growth of Android tablets in the market has exploded, the quality of apps for iOS far exceeds that of Android.”
VTech InnoTab Baby
VTech makes lots of computer-like devices that help little ones learn and stay occupied during long car trips. VTech’s newest release is the InnoTab Baby, which sells for less than $100 and follows in the footsteps of the InnoTab 2, a device aimed at the older six-to-nine-year-old crowd.
The Baby version, as the name would imply, has a younger target audience of one- to nine-year olds, but be advised that some of the games and other content might be a little too young for the higher age range.
It’s not all fun and games, either. Built-in content includes games with zoo animals, e-books, coloring apps and sing-alongs. You can add your own audio, video and e-books and like other VTech devices, you can purchases cartridges for other content.
LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer
LeapFrog was among the first to create a baby-friendly tablet. The LeapPad Explorer features motion-based gaming, a built-in microphone and a camera that also takes movies. There are more than 300 available games, digital books and flash cards ready for downloading and the five-inch screen will seem plenty big to little fingers.
The LeapPad Explore earned the 2012 Toy of the Year prize from the Toy Industry Association, as well as the group’s educational toy and preschool toy of the year honors. For just under $65, kids can explore, have fun and learn.
Fisher-Price Smart Tablet
Fisher-Price is a trusted name in children’s toys and its Smart Tablet for kids ages 3-7 earns high marks for innovation and durability. Equipped with six different Game Modes so toddlers can experience a variety of learning, the tablet can also be used to teach kids their letters or words through the Letter Mode. The battery-operated tablet, which sells for about $25, even comes with a kickstand so kids can prop it up for easier play and learning.
So, which tablet does your baby use? Do you trust your toddler with a $500 iPad or did you go with a cheaper and more kid-friendly tablet? Tell us in the comments below.
— By Tim Alan