Apps to Improve Communication in Toddlers and Preschoolers

Looking for some apps to improve your toddler’s or preschooler’s language?

Or, looking for some apps to possibly motivate your young child to communicate?

Apps are becoming increasingly popular with young children. Many of us may be shocked or even outraged when we see a toddler independently navigate a tablet…

…but I’m not really amazed. Apple, a multi-billion dollar company, purposefully designed the iPad to be highly intuitive (wish I felt the same way about the MacBook Air).

When I purchased my first iPad in 2011, I was amazed and excited. Hence, I started incorporating it into my sessions. I used apps to reinforce certain behaviors, to expand on concepts and to extend thematic activities. As a result, I have test-driven many apps with an array of children to determine which ones are best received by them.

The following list includes stimulating and fun apps I have used as tools to facilitate speech and language.  Please know that apps alone will NOT increase your child’s attention and will not independently make your child communicate or talk. It is YOUR responsibility to properly engage your child so that the app becomes a mode of interaction and communication.

2014 Update: The Zero to Three Organization created a FANTASTIC evidence-based guide – Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight to assist you in deciding how to use screens with children under 3 years of age.

In my personal opinion, apps are fun but they should NOT replace play with more traditional like toys (e.g. cause and effect, push-pull, puzzles, shape sorters, etc), typical play routines (e.g; close-ended, constructive and pretend play), or shared reading with books like:

  or  or

It’s essential for young children to manipulate objects with their hands, feel and turn pages manually and to run around and frolic outside.

Several organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, discourage screen and media time for children under 2 years of age and recommend limiting screen and media time to no more than 1 to 2 hours for children over 2 year old.

Lastly, I would strongly limit independent or solitary “iPad play” (e.g. child sits alone with his iPad for long durations). Sit next to your child, hold the iPad and chat about what you two are doing as you would when playing with toys, games, or when reading books together.

Toddlers

For toddlers under the age of 2 I don’t really recommend “playing” with the iPAD. There are so many other great toys and books to stimulate their precious minds. Wait a little bit longer. They have their entire lives to be stimulated by technology. For older toddlers, I advise using the iPad in moderation (or not at all).

If you are interested in tracking your toddler’s language development please consider the My Toddler Talks Word Tracker, available in the app store for FREE.

Knock Knock Family by Curio Makers Free

Nighty Night! The Bedtime Story App for Children by Fox & Sheep $2.99

Peekaboo Barn by Night and Day Studios $1.99

Peekaboo Fridge by Night and Day Studios $1.99

Pepi Bath by Pepi Play $1.99

Poke Me!   by Edutainment Resources, Inc. Free

Talking Baby Hippo by Out Fit 7 Ltd. $0.99

Talking Gina the Giraffe by Out Fit 7 Ltd. Free

Toddler’s Seek and Find by Wonderkind $1.99

Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose $0.99

Preschoolers

ClickySticky by Invocore $1.99

Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose $0.99

First Phrases Lite by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language, and Auditory Development $0.99

Fun With Directions HD Lite by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language, and Auditory Development $0.99

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox by THUMP Games $0.99

My Play Home by Shimon Young $2.99

Speech with Milo: Verbs by Doonan Speech Therapy $2.99

Toca Hair Salon by Toca Boca $1.99 (some children may think the characters are scary)

Toca Tea Party by Toca Boca $2.99 (older toddlers love this one too!)

Wake Up Mo! 3D Interactive Pop-Up Book $2.99

For toddler language development tips, tricks, and activities, please visit My Toddler Talks

For more preschool language development tips, tricks, and activities, please click here.


Kimberly Scanlon, M.A. CCC-SLP is a speech language pathologist, an author and a mother. As the owner of Scanlon Speech Therapy, LLC, a unique boutique practice in Bergen County, Kimberly embraces individuality and treats the whole person. Her goal is to spread compassion, hope, and some speech, language and literacy tips one moment, one person at a time.  Her first book, My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child’s Language Development and her second book, Learning to Read is a Ball are available for purchase at online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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