It's a Lifesaver
When Emily Butler takes her 2 1/2 -year-old daughter, Caroline, to restaurants near their home in Washington, D.C., there's one thing she never leaves at home—her phone. That's because she knows that it can serve as her lifeline if Caroline gets upset. She simply turns on one of her tried-and-true apps, like Butterscotch.com's Trancit Lite Edition 1.3 , and the screen fills with swirling colors and images that never fail to engage her daughter through the meal.
"At a restaurant it comes in handy if your baby is crying," says Butler, 34. "They kind of zone out, staring at the lights. You (and everyone else) get to eat in peace and they get their colors on."
Smith isn't alone. In recent years, parents everywhere have learned that no matter how many toys, books, and instruments that they purchase for their babies and toddlers, there's one device that never grows old: the cell phone.
To make sense of all the apps out there aimed at kids, we turned to tech expert Katie Linendoll (talknerdytome.net) who is a regular contributor on CNN and The Early Show, to share some of her favorites.
"I call the iPad the ultimate babysitter," says Linendoll. "Because it's very easy to use, there's no manual, and when the price point is typically free or 99 cents, you can't go wrong in downloading a bunch and seeing what you like."
Click through to see Linendoll's top kid-tested picks.
Cost: Free (Lite Version), Full Version ($1.99)
This portable piano is a top seller, and it's easy to see why. The eight-key piano can play notes and animal sounds (each key has a cartoon animal on it). Your child can even play a nursery rhyme by touching the highlighted keys. Kids have so much fun on this, they don't realize that they're also learning.
Kathryn Gamble Lozier
Kids see their parents making phone calls, and they want to do the same. Now they can pretend to call people with no risk of actually doing so, thanks to iBabyPhone. As kids dial using the number buttons, the numbers are read out loud but no calls go out. The phone has different modes that teach colors, numbers, animals, and more. Your children get to feel like grown-ups talking on a phone app made just for them.
This app is chockablock with games and activities. Transform your phone into a tambourine or bell, and let your child shake it. Switch it into drawing mode and let her imagination run wild. Or explore the jungle, garden. and ocean scenes on BabySitter2Go. With enticing music and graphics, this app is called "BabySitter" for a reason.
I Hear Ewe
These animated animals come to life when you touch them. The parrot squawks, the monkey screams, the lion roars, and there are 24 creatures (and 12 vehicles) to choose from. Toddlers love to play and learn with I Hear Ewe; each time they touch an animal or vehicle, the name of that item is announced, along with a real sound effect.
Your toddler morphs into DJ Scribbles with Baby Scratch. This record player allows your child (and you) to scratch records while playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, or any other song. You can also record your own voice, or any sound around you, and add it to your DJ montage. Simple, responsive, and fun, Baby Scratch will amuse the aspiring DJ for hours.
Animal Sound Board
Tap these cute critters and you'll hear the sound they make. The 45 animals on this app include an elephant, eagle, frog, bumblebee, and more. The app will keep little ones entertained, and perk up the ears of any nearby pets. You can also save any of the animals sounds as a ringtone.
Cost: Free with DropCam purchase
This nanny-cam goes with you, wherever your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, or Android device may be. All you have to do is set up the camera in your home and you can monitor any activity from afar. The app is free when you purchase the DropCam ($199). This advanced security system gives you peace of mind when you're away from home.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.