Our Favorite Toddler Shows to Stream

{The lineup:  cat, lion – old PB Kids / PB Kids Doll, Odell the Octopus, Mr. Monkey – old Anthro, Baby Pig)

‘Mama — may I watch sumpin’?

That’s Gemma’s way of asking if she can watch an episode or two of her favorite shows. I try to be as strategic as possible in allowing screen time and we try to limit it to about an hour a day. Some days we have zero screen time and other times we go over that 1 hour limit. But if I’ve learned anything by being a mom, it’s that flexibility is key. And your kid watching something while you cook dinner + get the kitchen cleaned is a really wonderful thing. 

Right now, trying to work from home we try to use this list strategically! Sometimes you need to get work done and using screen time to your advantage is wise! We lean more towards the educational based ones first.

Ground Rules

We have a few rules with screen time that work best for our family. You gotta do what works for you, so if you hear our rules and think WOW that’s strict or you hear them and think WOW that’s loose, it’s what works best for us. Our rules: no eating in front of the screen (plus we don’t eat in our sunroom where the tv is), when momma or daddy say ‘last one’ we don’t throw a fit when it’s over (we say this at the beginning of the last episode and right before we turn it off, and mom and dad are in charge of the remote. I’ve found that not surprising her with the quick turn off helps her understand and not throw a fit),  and we don’t watch anything 2 hours before bed. We also just watch on or TV, no handhelds. We only use an iPad if we are traveling and need it in the car. This is mainly because I work from an iPad Pro and I didn’t want her to make the connection of seeing an iPad and immediately thinking ‘oh I watch a show’ So far, so good. 

*also during this shelter in place / quarantine time we are all in, our screen time rules have been much more flexible. I’ve just been sure to multiply our books we read at night as if that cancels it out?? Pretty sure that’s not how it all works but it’ll be okay.

What We Watch

We try to do as many educational shows we can but I’ve also come to learn that Gemma learns a lot from not educational-only shows, too. She can recall what happened in the show and tell me about it in great detail for a toddler. (I always ask what the episode was about immediately after.) Later I can see her pretending with her toys a similar story line of the episode she watched. Igniting imagination, learning to follow a story and keeping focus are just as important skills as learning to count and the ABCs. 

With that being said, our list is curated by Gemma herself. She is pickier than I thought she’d be – ha! We will turn a new show on and she’ll give it about 5 minutes and say ‘I don’t like this’. So our list is tried and true from over here. I’ve tried to break them down from Most Educational to Just For Fun, which I still think has an educational effect and I’ve let you know where you can find each show!  

One note on Youtube: I only let Gemma watch YouTube when I’m in control and I’m watching as well. I got freaked out by that MOMO challenge and just in general, YouTube can get on a weird algorithm and before you know it you’re not sure what’s gonna show up next. Welcome to my helicopter, all moms welcome. Just be aware of what you’re watching and who has uploaded it on Youtube and you’ll be fine. 

Here are a few shows that we like to watch or have watched in the past year that Gemma really enjoys. Obviously there are A LOT of shows out there for kids, these are just the ones we’ve come across and go back to again and again. 

How We Stream

We personally use a ROKU device (found here or here) to stream our different subscriptions and channels. For paid services we have Netflix, Amazon Prime + Noggin (add on), Disney+ and HBO Now. On our Roku we have Netflix, Amazon Prime (We have a Noggin subscription through Prime), PBS Kids app (free), Disney+ app, YouTube (free) and HBO Now. Most of these have apps for other streaming devices than just a Rogue, including Amazon Fire Stick,  Amazon Fire or iPads / iPhones. You can also access a lot of these via browsers. 

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Most Educational

Sesame Street

The OG of kids educational shows and it’s still adorable. We love to watch the new ones on Saturday on HBO NOW but they do a great job of updating their official YouTube channel with shorts and songs.

Stream here: HBO NOW or episodes can be found on their official Youtube Channel. 

Dinosaur Train

Look, this show can be summed up by the intro song. (Trust me once you hear it, you’ll never forget it.) BUT it’s super informative, hell I don’t know half of what they are talking about and kids love dinosaurs. Gemma loves it and she repeats some of the dinosaur names to me and I just have to nod like I knew that already.

Stream here: PBS Kids app / PBS / Amazon Prime 

SuperWhy

This show is more for preschoolers but Gemma loves it! It’s a great show that really introduces kids to reading. Highly recommend this show!

Stream here: PBS Kids app / PBS

Blue’s Clues (the new one)

Gotta be real, I’m into the new Blue’s Clues. The new host is not as dorky and Gemma is glued to the show from beginning to end and she answers his questions when he asks. It’s darling and engaging! 

Stream here: Nickelodeon (cable) / Noggin App via Amazon Prime 

Charlie’s Colorform City

This show is about building a story — plot + climax + ending. It’s ‘talks’ to the kids for an interactive element. It can get slightly annoying but Gemma loved it.

Stream here: Netflix

Social Studies

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

This is the sweetest little show and Gemma is obsessed. We love Daniel and he works throigh so many great things that toddlers are dealing with especially his emotions. Daniel is a mainstay in our home and he has a potty song that you KNOW we sing at the top of our lungs. It’s a bop.

Steam here: PBS Kids app / PBS / Amazon Prime 

Pinklaicious 

Okay I won’t lie — it’s not the most fun show to watch as an adult but it’s a sweet-spirited show and super fun for little girls. It’s not one we watch a lot but it’s a sweet show and has a line of books, too.  -PBS Stream here: Kids app / PBS / Amazon Prime 

SuperWings

These are like 10 minute episodes that are quick stories about some heroic airplanes (don’t think too hard about this) that fly around the world and learn different cultures. It’s a cute, quick show that shows different places, people and cultures.

Stream here: Netflix / Hulu streaming plan 

Peppa Pig

This is a favorite of ours — we love Peppa and we learn so much from her. Plus sometimes Gemma uses a light British accent when she says some things and it’s adorable. These episodes take life down to a preschool / toddler level where kids can understand the world around them. Highly recommend a little Peppa in your life.

Stream here: Noggin / Youtube

Problem Solving

PJ Masks

A cute show about three best friends who turn into super heroes at night (hence the pj’s). It’s cute and has a lot of conflict or problem solving. Has a lot of action for a toddler show though, just FYI. Not like Michael Bay amount of action but you know, Mikey Bay.

Stream here: Netflix / Disney+

Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins mom is a doctor and she becomes a doctor to her toys and helps them with their ailments! It’s a sweet show and teaches a lot of trust for doctors and it makes going to the doctor seem less scary! Plus hearing Gemma care for her stuffed animals is about the cutest thing in the world. –

Stream here: Disney+ / Hulu 

Thomas the Train

Look, no adult wants to watch Thomas the Train BUT toddlers love it and it’s a sweet, slow moving show that kids eat up. It’s a an easy and slow watch if you need something that’s not going to wind your kiddo up.

Stream here: Netflix

Go! Go! Cory Carson

This one is new to us but it’s kind of the same as Thomas the Train or SuperWings, it’s a car who talks and has adventures. Pretty slow moving and again, kids + cars is always a match.- Netflix 

Stinky & Dirty

A cute show based on books I think of a backhoe and a garbage truck. They get into a lot of situations that encourage problem solving and asking ‘what if’. Also — kids love trucks so this is alway sa win. –

Stream here: Amazon Prime 

Just for Fun

Chip + Potato

A really cute show about a little pug named Chip and her imaginary mouse friend named Potato! It’s very silly and colorful and has a very imaginative story line.

Stream here: Netflix

Puppy Dog Pals

Kind of a weird but essentially a bunch of dogs that go on adventures in their neighborhood and around the world. It’s cute but it can get a bit grating on the nerves.

Stream here: Disney+

Paw Patrol

A team of dogs that represent all forms of civic services — police, firefighter, recycling, air patrol, construction, etc. that go on adventures to help other animals in their city. It’s a sweet show and bonus Target has a whole aisle of never-ending PP toys 😉

Stream here: Nickelodeon (cable) / Noggin App via Amazon Prime 

2 Notes

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  1. We like sweet and slower paced shows for our daughters. It’s amazing how quickly they pick up on sass so we try to limit them. That said…

    I HIGHLY recommend Tumble Leaf on Amazon Prime. The sweetest show that is actually stop animation and has a Wes Anderson feel to it. 10 minute episodes, creative, and enjoyable for adults to watch as well. About a blue fox named Fig and his adventures with his friends where they learn how things work in the world.

    Another one is Sarah and Duck on Amazon Prime. Not sure if you can watch it without buying it, but another super sweet show about a British girl and her pet duck and their adventures. Around 7 minute episodes. The Pipe Conductor episode is on repeat at our house.

    03.23.20 · Reply
  2. Karli says:

    I don’t have kids but I love going to my bestie’s to watch Bluey with her kids. It is an Aussie cartoon set in Brisbane and it is a joy to watch. I think you guys might like it 🙂

    03.28.20 · Reply