Finding decent Android apps for toddlers can be a bit of trial-and-error, scouring reviews and downloading games only to quickly delete when you find that your kid is being blasted with ads and in-app purchases.

Android apps for toddlers, screened by moms to check for intrusive ads. These are my kids favorites

Our 18-month-old and 3-year-old kids are allowed to play with Android apps for toddlers on our tablets and phones whenever we're traveling (as much hands-on learning as there is to be had in an airport, sometimes a little technology prevents meltdowns when we've all been awake since 4am). We're still working with Cricket and thanks to our unlimited data, we've been able to be pretty liberal with letting our kids download games and learning applications to test out the very best Android apps for toddlers. After weeding through a whole lot of digital junk, here are our favorites that they both go back to time and time again.

Android Apps for Toddlers (That Have Actually been Field-Tested)

  1. Baby Toy – Made for little ones just getting started with apps, this has been a favorite of both of my kids ever since they could hold up a phone. It features image tiles of farm animals, musical instruments and robots that make noises when pressed. Great for helping kids learn the sounds of the animals.
  2. Baby Balloons – Good for learning cause and effect and hand-eye coordination, this app pops balloons and bubbles onto the screen as toddlers drag their finger across the surface. They can then press to pop the bubbles and explode the balloons in a barrage of confetti.
  3. Happy Trains for Young Kids – If you have a train-obsessed kid like my oldest, this simple game can provide hours of fun. Toddlers can drag their finger across the screen to create tracks that are auto-populated with dozens of trains.
  4. Kids Shapes – Features shapes in real-life scenarios to help children learn to identify and recognize shapes in the world. My younger toddler enjoys the bright colors and interaction although he may not recognize what he's looking at, and my older toddler gets excited exclaiming, “Circle! Square! Triangle!”
  5. Kids Piano Lite – This app starts as a basic touch-and-play piano and grows with your child as they advance, with game options to help teach children keys and songs.
  6. Fisher Price Storybook Rhymes Series – My kids LOVE being read to, but I can't drag all their books around everywhere we go. This series of apps features favorite nursery rhymes being read by a narrator. Kids can sing along with recognizable songs and touch the screen for fun character animations.
  7. Picsart for Kids – Gives kids the option of drawing on a blank screen or coloring pages and learn with mazes and shape features.
  8. KidsZoo – Features slideshows of real animals and insects with pronunciation of the animal name followed by the real animal sound. This is about as close to the zoo as you can get, without actually smelling the giraffes.
  9. ABC for Kids – A screen with letters A-Z invites kids to tap each letter to hear a pronunciation of its sound along with a corresponding item. Both of my kids get excited identifying, “B…Ball!”
  10. PBS Kids Video –  Finally, a safe way for kids to watch their favorite shows on-the-go without having to save digital copies of DVDs. The PBS Kids Video app offers kids select shows featuring their favorite characters, such as Caillou, Dinosaur Train, Curious George and Elmo. Requires 3G or WiFi connection (again, thank goodness for Cricket Wireless's unlimited data letting us try all  of the Android apps for toddlers – including the ones that require streaming!).

What are your favorite Android apps for toddlers?