The 10 best ipad apps for hospitals and airplanes and everywhere in between

I’m not going to shout from the hilltops about how awesome it is to plonk your toddler down in front of a screen – but by jingos, when the chips are down and your child is not, they are one very large saving grace. 

We used the ipad a fair bit in hospital  – when Albie was recovering from his heart surgery. With an active mind and a sore body, the ipad made it a lot easier for him to stay still and rest. And since then too – I will take all the help I can get to keep a 2 year old still for an echo-cardiogram so as to avoid anaesthetic.

With our flight to the UK and back done and dusted, I really do feel like we have graduated to a new level of expertise in distracting a toddler. His flight bag was a-flurry with the usual suspects – colouring books, play-dough, some small cars to unwrap, some toy fruit to chop with a toy knife, storybooks, and sheets and sheets of stickers. But when all the games were tired, and Albie was not, we turned to the ipad and oh how we loved it!

I’ve done quite a bit of research into cool apps for toddlers. And when I say cool, I am talking my own rather uncool, definition of cool –  creative, aesthetically pleasing, unbranded, learning focused apps.

So for what it’s worth, here are our current top 10 apps for little people in hospitals and aeroplanes and everywhere in between.

1. Endless Alphabet


Albie goes to this the most, and stays here the longest, and now can match all the letters in the alphabet, one-to-one. It’s got gorgeous animations and wonderful letter sounds. Makes me want to learn the alphabet myself if I am honest –  but sadly that ship has sailed. Click here for a full review from someone else. Watch below for Albie in action on it (and how funny is his ‘hilarious’ laugh at the end?)

2. Petting Zoo


It’s not really got too much point, but it is out and out awesome. It’s like a Keith Haring inspired, M C Esher mashup with a zoo of animals. So if you like those three things, than you’ll love this. And it makes Albie giggle. Click here for a full review from someone else.

3.ABC Go


If you’ve a transport-mad fiend on your hands, as we do, than this is an app for you. Types of transport illustrate the alphabet, but what sets it apart for me is that when you have internet access, little videos of each one, pop up in the corner to watch as well. The range of transport is extensive, from rollercoasters to iceskates to unicycles. I can not even begin to guess how many times Albie has watched the snow mobile go, but it’s been a few. The same series also do ABC Bugs, ABC Food, ABC Play and ABC WIldlife

4. Little Fox Music Box


It’s beautifully designed and presented, has three sweet songs, cute and surprising interactivities, and you can record your own versions of the songs too. I haven’t seen a prettier app yet, and I’ve been searching!

5. Bloom

bloom eno

A totally ambient, patchouli patch of calm by Brian Eno. Albie totally dug this app when he was younger. Finger touches on the screen sound gentle chimes and create patterns. If you are a muso, you’ll love it even more – click here to read why.

6. The Peekaboo series  – from Night & Day Studios


There are a bunch of themed apps around the classic game of peek-a-boo, where you get the smallest hint of something behind a tree, or door and a tap on the screen reveals the culprit. We’ve loved Peekaboo Forest ( illustrated Charley Harper), Peekaboo People (illustrated by Richard Scarry, and for me crazily nostalgic), Peekaboo Wild and Peekaboo Fridge. Full review of Peekaboo Forest here.

7. ABC Theater


Albie has just started to trace letters and name them,and I have really struggled to find an alphabet app that isn’t totally naf. I am not convince this is the best one, but it’s the best I have found so far.

8. Toca Band


The song might drive you slightly troppo, but the premise is great. Lots of different rhythms and rhymers, stack them on the performance stage at different levels to learn about changes in tempo.

9. The Singing Alphabet

I should say, this top 10 is not in order, because this app should be near the top. Tap on letters to hear their sound. All done to a jazzy beat. It’s hard to describe, totally charming – here watch this video – you’ll get it soon enough.

10. You tell me yours! 

Always keen for new discoveries, leave a comment with your favourites.


  1. Android Games: Android: Dr. Panda games, My Playhome, Fruit Ninja, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Beck and Bo my almost 2 y/o loved these games (Beck and Bo might need another few months)

  2. Kyla would love that singing alphabet – we are android users here though so don’t know if there’s an android version? Dylan’s really into Cut the Rope and Turtle Run (which he learned on the Ipad at school so I was informed we needed them at home too) Kyla loves one called Aniworld Lite, and Kids Connect the Dots Lite, although there are limited pictures on this app so is a bit bored with it now. So many to choose from 🙂

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