There are so very many options to choose from for a young child’s first tablet, but after weighing the pros and cons of current offerings, we would choose for a 3-5 year old’s first tablet the LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra, and then graduate to a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition or an iPad Mini. The LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra can be skipped, as it is expensive when the extra software apps are added into the cost, and some might families might prefer to start with the Galaxy Tab.
The LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra
This very kid-friendly tablet is specifically designed for young children and is filled with fun and truly educational (or edutaining) activities. The LeapPad Ultra Kids Tablet is currently available in green or pink. It’s tough, the apps are strong and appealing, kids love the camera and video options, and includes a kid-safe internet browsing experience.
The only real problem with this choice is that additional apps/software for the unit are necessary for full enjoyment of the tablet, as users cannot access non-LeapFrog apps such as Google Play, and they are quite expensive. A regular tablet will be desired once the LeapPad Ultra has outgrown its appeal, and this has to be considered as well (some parents would prefer to skip right to a “real” tablet instead). If you can afford it, however, you will likely be happy with your choice. A regular tablet will be desired down the road, but this one is quite perfect for the younger set. For more reviews, information, or to buy: LeapPad Ultimate
- Kid-friendly and kid-safe. You can find some truly educational material in its apps.
- It won’t grow with your child for as long as the other tablets in this article.
- The apps/add-ons are costly (although mostly good quality).
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition
We love this tablet. The Galaxy Tab 3 can be run in standard mode, and it’s the same Galaxy Tab 3 that adults use. In kid mode, there are nice parental controls and preloaded kid-friendly apps with the option to acquire more. You can load up this tablet with apps from Google Play, for example, or the Samsung Kids Store. For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition (7-Inch with Carrying Case and Stylus)
- Easy access to apps on Google Play and other Android apps
- Preloaded apps – it’s fun right out of the box.
- Can function just like the same tablet designed for adults, but has helpful parental controls.
- Grows more with a child because it doesn’t look as much like a toy as the LeapPad Ultra.
- We love the carry handle that turns into a tablet stand and stylus version (the other version with the orange bumper is good too).
- While it is much more mature looking than the LeapPad Ultra, not every child will want the colorful band and bumper. The bumper can be removed, however. Note that there are two versions of the tablet – the tablet itself is the same in each, but one version has a carrying handle that converts into a tablet stand as well as a stylus, and the other version has a bumper frame around the tablet.
Nabi Fubu XD
This tablet is a decent choice, but not as straightforward for accessing GooglePlay and other apps. As well, we like the preloaded apps on the Samsung Galaxy Tab3 Kids Edition better. There are various versions of this tablet. If you are purchasing it, we recommend a version with 16 GB of onboard memory or more, instead of the 8 GB version.
We also like other tablets not specifically designed for kids, such as the iPad Mini, Kindle HD Fire, and the economical ASUS MeMOPad HD 7-Inch 16 GB Tablet, for example. We do not recommend the Kindle HD Fire for those living outside of the US due to the limited access to apps.