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10 toddler TV shows that inspire learning, friendship + kindness

Use the shows’ subjects as starting points for pretend games and conversation.

10 toddler TV shows that inspire learning, friendship + kindness

Yes, TV feels like a slippery slope.

Turning your toddler onto TV for the first time can feel like a big, scary step. Once you introduce screens, is your kid ever going to want to go back to reading books? Are you going to hear nothing but the whiny whimsical voices and grating music of young kids' cartoons for the next few years? How will commercials, gender stereotypes, characters' bratty behavior and the lure of a candy-colored on-screen world affect such impressionable young minds?


But if you're thoughtful about your choices and balance TV time with other activities, there's no reason not to allow your toddler to enjoy some quality entertainment.

Start out slow with toddler-targeted shows that are gentle, brief and full of age-appropriate content. Make an effort to find well-made programs that truly engage your toddler (if she's singing the songs to her stuffed animals, it's probably a good one!).

Use the shows' subjects as starting points for pretend games and conversation. Co-view when you can, or follow up with questions about the shows when they're over. And take heart in the fact that kids can actually learn both preschool skills such as letters and numbers and social-emotional skills from well-chosen viewing.

When you're ready to turn on the TV for your tot, check out our reviews for quality and age-appropriateness before firing up the remote, and watch with your kid as much and as often as you can.

Get started with a few of our faves right here.

1. Beat Bugs, Netflix

Even parents will enjoy this sweet show inspired by the enduring magic of Beatles' songs. With messages of friendship and teamwork, there are a lot of great takeaways (and, of course, it's never too early to turn your kids onto good music). Check out the TV movie musical spin-off Beat Bugs: All Together Now for more Beatles-inspired fun.

2. Little Baby Bum, YouTube

Little ears will perk up to this channel's familiar nursery rhymes and lullabies, like Wheels on the Bus, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, and Hickory Dickory Dock sung by cute, animated animals. Many of the videos introduce early learning concepts like colors, numbers, and shapes, and at two to three minutes a pop, the videos are perfect for short attention spans (although there are curated playlists for longer viewing as well).

3. Nina's World, Hulu

This lively show celebrates family, friendship and diversity through content that incorporates English, Spanish and even some American Sign Language. Simple elements such as Nina serving traditional meals and using Spanish phrases teach kids in a natural way.

4. Sesame Street, PBS

Sesame Street remains a superstar of early childhood programming. Since 1969, Big Bird and friends have delighted and entertained toddlers around the globe. With engaging learning lessons, diverse characters, catchy music and celebrity guests, you really can't go wrong with this enduring classic.

5. The Stinky and Dirty Show, Amazon Prime

Truck-obsessed toddlers will go nuts for this sweet show about best friends Stinky the garbage truck and Dirty the backhoe based on the books by Jim and Kate McMullan. With minimal characters, it's easy for toddlers to follow the story, and despite what their names may suggest, Stinky and Dirty are terrific role models for kids and really demonstrate the power of teamwork.

6. Storybots Super Songs, Netflix

In every episode of this music-centric spin-off of the popular Ask the Storybots program, you'll see multiple short music videos about various topics, from outer space to farm animals. It's an absolute visual treat, as it skips around effortlessly among various types of animation; one segment might be done with stop-motion puppetry, one may use traditional 2D animation, and the next might look like a watercolor painting.

7. Super Simple Songs, YouTube

Music is key to engaging and entertaining young kids. In Super Simple Songs, cartoon characters and puppets act out nursery rhymes both familiar and new and encourage the kids to sing along. Similar to Little Baby Bum, many of the videos introduce early learning concepts like letters and counting.

8. Tayo the Little Bus, Hulu

Originally developed for South Korea's Educational Broadcasting System, Tayo the Little Bus offers lots of fun adventures and positive lessons that toddlers can understand and enjoy with a focus on friendship, learning, and doing the right thing. For kids into vehicles, this one is a surefire winner.

9. Timmy Time, Disney Channel

Timmy Time centers on a mischievous young lamb who's always looking for ways to fix the trouble he's gotten into with his friends and teachers at nursery school. From the engaging animation to the show's dialogue-free format, this one is perfect for toddlers because it packs each 10-minute story with important social lessons about responsibility, good sportsmanship, and fair play.

10. Word Party, Netflix

Created by the Jim Henson Company, the interactive cartoon features four baby animals who ask the "big kids" watching from home for help answering questions. Along with vocabulary building, the series has positive themes that relate to emotional awareness, friendship, and getting along with others. (Warning: The Word Party jingle may drill itself into your head. At least your toddler will get a kick out of you humming it 24/7.)

Originally posted on Common Sense Media.

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As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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