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Parents' Guide to Children's Products for Fun & Learning

Buyer's Guide:    Best Software for Babies & Toddlers 

A new feature at, our Buyer's Guides help make buying choices easy for consumers. We test hundreds of children's products and strive to keep up to date on the latest releases. Of course, every family is unique. We can't please everyone. However, we are able to select some special titles that are at the top of our "edutainment" list--those that have that extra edge in the categories of design, entertainment, education, and play value. 

Besides the letter grades we give most products, reviews on this site often come with a rating bar chart--a visual breakdown of how the product rates in a number of categories. If you'd like to know more about how software products are rated, click here.

As we test new software and products, we will update these buyer's guides to reflect current availability and up-to-date recommendations. These guides are intended to help parents make sense of the overwhelming choices available to them.

Software for Babies and Toddlers:

Some babies are entirely curious about that big screen that Mommy and Daddy often sit in front of (most babies think the monitor is the computer!) and others could care less. There is absolutely no rush to get young children acquainted with the computer, but if your toddler is clamoring for his or her turn with the mouse, there are some excellent software programs that provide pleasant, error-free introductions to the world of computer games.

Most designed-for-babies programs allow children to either tap the keys on the keyboard in a random manner for an onscreen reaction, or more deliberate swiping of the mouse without the need for clicking (hotspots are activated when the cursor hovers over them). 




Reader Rabbit Toddler 

coverIf you have skipped baby software and want to get your toddler (ages 18 months and up) acquainted with the mechanics of the mouse, Reader Rabbit Toddler is a great choice. At first, this program will be "lapware", but when children become more familiar with the mouse, they can have lots of independent fun with this program. 

Why do we recommend this product? Good replay value, nice selection of activities, excellent activities for older toddlers. Teaches children to swipe the mouse. A standout activity involves coloring a picture by moving the mouse back and forth, which is an ideal way for toddlers to understand how the mouse works!

Who is it for? Older toddlers; children who want to learn how to use the mouse.

[For more information, or to buy: Reader Rabbit Toddler 2002 at for approximately $19.99 US - affiliate link]



Disney Learning Toddler 

coverThis program bundles three CD-ROMs, two of which are decent toddler programs: Winnie the Pooh Toddler and Mickey Mouse Toddler. Our complaint with each previously-released title was that there wasn't quite enough activities, but this bundle solves the problem nicely! Cute activities are featured, and most are quite responsive. The third title in the package, Rolie Polie Olie, is far out of a toddler's range of capabilities. Some bundles

Why do we recommend this product? Good features allow children to play two ways (with the mouse and the keyboard); nice educationally valuable activities; engaging format; two programs for the price of one.

Who is it for? Young and older toddlers, children who want to learn how to use the mouse. Good as lapware and, later, for independent play. Two toddler programs for the price of one makes the bundle an economical way to add variety to a young child's software collection.

[For more information, or to buy: Disney Learning Toddler (also called Disney Toddler Bundle) at - affiliate link]



Sesame Street Baby 

coverUse this program as lapware. The activities are broken down into those that require use of the mouse and those that require children to use the keyboard. An adult has to be present in order to switch between the different sets of activities, so this program is not as good as Reader Rabbit Toddler for when children have mastered the basics of the computer mouse. 

Why do we recommend this product? Good lapware, favorite characters, bright graphics, fun activities. Not ideal for independent play.

Who is it for? Families who intend to use the program as lapware. Best for children ages 12-24 months.

[For more information, or to buy: Sesame Street Baby - 3 Pack at for approximately $19.99 US]




Baby Einstein: Baby Newton Fun with Shapes 

coverFun game that is based on the Baby Einstein series of videos, and more specifically, the Baby Newton video/DVD. This program is not especially interactive, but it does provide a stimulating environment for young children to become acquainted with the basic concept of cause-and-effect on the computer (move the mouse or tap the keyboard for a reaction onscreen). 

***Somewhat over-stimulating. Best used in small doses. Not as interactive as other baby software, but certainly more interactive than the videos on which the program is based. Very appealing graphics.

Who is it for? Children who enjoy the Baby Einstein series of videos. Best used as lapware for younger children.

[For more information, or to buy: Baby Einstein Baby Newton Fun with Shapes at for approximately $19.99 US - affiliate link]



Other Good Choices:

JumpStart Baby

coverBecause this program has changed so drastically with each new release over the years, it's a little hard to follow. The latest version stars a little teddy bear named Teddy. Children get him dressed for the season, participate in music-making, and connect the dots. This program is quite fun and creative; best used as lapware. 

[For more information, or to buy: JumpStart Baby at]


Not Recommended:

Winnie the Pooh Baby is graphically rich, but not a very responsive program for young children. Muppet Babies: Toyland Train is a cute program, but it simply is not user-friendly for babies or toddlers. By the time children can understand how to navigate the game, they are too old for the learning content.



April 2003/Updated December 2003/Updated March 2004