iPhone Baby and Toddler Apps Review

Amongst the myriads of different baby and toddler apps available today there are only a limited few which are of any real educational or entertaining value. It sometimes is nearly impossible to choose. And although most of them are fairly cheap (ranging from 99 cents to $3) the cost can still add up if you want to keep a variety of them on your phone. Regardless of what critics might say about babies and toddlers using electronic devices they are part of our modern daily lives and they DO help enormously, especially in situations like waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s office or attending your older child’s school concert. And if your baby manages to learn how to count to ten or adds a few new words to their vocabulary than that’s a bonus, isn’t it?

But choosing is hard and I found that the best way to choose is to download trial apps, give them to my toddler and help him decide what he likes. Of course, recommendations from friends and reading on-line reviews from other mums are also invaluable. So, here is a list of our favourites (I will add some brief descriptions and photos soon):

Look Baby! by Deadline
(Cost – $0.99)

I believe that the best baby and toddler iPhone apps are those that are simple yet very interactive. They allow the child to do an action (touch, press, slide, shake) and see an immediate effect of that action. The Look Baby! app is a perfect example of such an application. It is the first app that my toddler ever used and it was one of his favourites for a long time.

The current version has 8 different activity screens. The best ones are the Tickle Teddy, Laughin’ Rabbit, Shakin’ Shapes and the Glitterfly. The Tickle Teddy was my little boy’s favourite – it allows the child to do just what the name says, tickle the teddy by touching or shaking the phone. The teddy will laugh and giggle with an adorable baby laugh. The Shakin’ Shapes are also great – a collection of moving shapes that the child can touch or shake and make jump up and down. I have to say that since the upgrade this app became less user friendly with transitions from screen to screen and the child will probably need assistance from an adult with moving to the next play screen.

Age suitability: 1 to 3 years

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Baby Touch by Ladybird
(Cost – $2.99)

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Bananas in Pyjamas Beach Fun
(Cost – $0.99)

Age suitability: 1 to 3 years

I would have to say that this adorable creation is the best toddler app I have ever encountered. It’s beautifully designed, interactive, very easy to use and just lots and lots of fun.

The kids have a choice of two games in this app –  play with B1 and B2 or create a beautifully decorated sandcastle … and then destroy it.

Playing with B1 and B2 will get lots of laughs from your toddler and from you, too. Keep squirting that sunscreen until the bottle is empty and then rub it all in by sliding your fingers across the screen.

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Once the sunscreen is on, it’s time to put on some hats. Change them as many times as you like and see which one suits B1 and B2 best. Then, it’s time for some sunglasses in lots of fun shapes.

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Building Sandcastles portion of the game is also lots of fun. The castle can be decorated by many beautiful sea shells, flags, leaves and twigs…

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and when it is finished it can be smashed by sliding your finger across the screen and the vibrating added to the image of breaking castle makes it very real.

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First Words from Learning Touch

Animals Video Touch
(Cost – $2.99)

The concept of this little app is elegantly simple. The child sees a screen with hand-drawn pictures of 12 different animals. When a picture is touched a short 10-30 second video of that animal in real life is played. There are 4 different videos available for every animal. Every video shows the animals engaging in different activities, sometimes different varieties or breeds of the same animal are shown. For instance, for the Cat picture there is a video of a cat drinking water from the tap, another one of a cat playing with the toilet paper roll, one with a cat sitting on a window sill, looking at something outside and making noises and the final video is of a mother cat playing with her little kittens. All videos are of beautiful quality. A very entertaining, easy to use and engaging app.

Age suitability: 1 to 100 years

Screenshots:

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iPhone Screenshot 3

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Presenting the Chalk and Chuckles range at Bright Tomato Learning

We are very excited to announce that Bright Tomato Learning will be carrying a new range of amazing educational games and learning materials from Chalk and Chuckles.

Chalk and Chuckles logo
Chalk and Chuckles products are truly innovative, beautifully made, environmentally friendly and lots of fun.

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“Dancing Feet” by The Freckled Frog

We have long been very big fans of the toys designed by an Australian company The Freckled Frog. We stock a range of their educational toys and the quality is always superb while the educational and fun elements are always unique and original.

The Dancing Feet is a simple and very clever product that can transform any shoe into a tap dancing shoe in seconds.

This little video demonstrates The Freckled Frog’s Dancing Feet in action. I think, these little girls are future tap dancing stars!

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Low, low, low FLAT RATE Postage AUSTRALIA-WIDE!!

We are super excited to announce that our $6.60 Flat Rate postage is now LIVE! You can purchase as many toys as you like and we will get them delivered to you promptly anywhere in Australia for only $6.60.

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New Bright Tomato Montessori Materials and Wooden Toys

Here is a list of our new stock expected to arrive at the end of the month.

New Montessori Materials:
Colour Tablets Set 1
Wood – Large Movable Alphabet (Red & Blue) Cursive
Lower Case Double Sandpaper Letters – Cursive

Wooden Toys:
Fruit sorting game
Frog wooden xylophone
Wooden number puzzle
Wooden musical knock game
Wooden whistles
Wooden car assemble tool set
Magnetic chalk board
Wooden pull-along train

 

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Creative ideas for playing with Playdough, Salt dough and Clay

Recently, I have noticed that a table with home-made salt dough at our local play group has become a source of some anxiety for me and every time I visit it with my 18 months old toddler I leave feeling slightly guilty and a touch inadequate. Like, for instance, during the Easter week, my toddler and I sat across from mums and bubs happily rolling up Easter eggs and placing them into the amazing basket creations next to the gorgeous bunnies and cutest baby chicks made out of salt dough. We, on the other hand, were rolling dough into thick and thin sausages and although managed to roll several Easter eggs unfortunately had no lovely basket to put them in. That’s because I CANNOT MAKE BASKETS out of playdough or anything else for that matter. And consequently neither can my 18 months old toddler. Last week we sat across from a lovely young mum with her toddler and watched them making a phantasmagorical salt dough forest with trees and flowers creation out of different colour dough and toothpicks. I watched with envy which was difficult to conceal whereas my toddler watched with fascination as the sad little thick and thin sausages lay on our side of the table…

I consider myself a fairly creative person and I remember making fun stuff out of play dough when I was little but for some reason, when I handle playdough these days, my brain is just incapable of producing interesting and beautiful little figurines. Refusing to let my toddler suffer from his mother’s unfortunate inadequacy and thanks to google I have found some great resources that I would like to share. Perhaps there are other playdough challenged mums like me out there…

Here are some pages from an amazing book by Rony Oren, called “Secrets of Clay, Pets & Farm Animals 1”

Mouse and Snail

playdough ideas mouse snail
Rooster
playdough ideas chicken
Frog
playdough ideas frog

Donkey
playdough ideas donkey

And these Playdough Mats from Prekinders are simply amazing – just print out and stick playdough on these themed mats to make them come alive. The themes include: Carrots for the Rabbit, Dog Food and Cat Food, Feed the Giraffe and more.

I will keep adding resources that I find interesting.

Looking forward to making a snail at the next play group. I am sure other mums will be green with envy.

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MULTICULTURAL Ethnic BABY Dolls – Asian and African

Our gorgeous multicultural babies have arrived! It is so difficult to find good quality multicultural ethnic dolls but we believe we have found them. These dolls are of exceptional quality, they look and even smell just like real babies.
Our Asian baby dolls have beautifully smooth and silky black hair and soft, porcelain skin.

Asian Baby Boy - Anatomically Correct MULTICULTURAL Ethnic Doll

Asian Baby Girl - Anatomically Correct MULTICULTURAL Ethnic Doll

Our African baby dolls have chubby cheeks and gorgeous shiny curls.

African Baby Boy - Anatomically Correct MULTICULTURAL Ethnic Doll

African Baby Girl - Anatomically Correct MULTICULTURAL Ethnic Doll

African Baby Girl – Anatomically Correct MULTICULTURAL Ethnic Doll

All dolls are anatomically correct and dressed in white cotton underwear.
They are truly an amazing find and we are very proud of them!

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Interactive JUMBO Activity CLOTH Books for Babies and Toddlers by Freckled Frog

The I CAN Interactive Cloth book series from The Freckled Frog are so magnificent I wish I was still a little kids so that I could play with them! And they are JUMBO size, super large, just the right size for little hands.
With a multitude of wonderful interactive activities such as lacing a shoe, choosing shapes, counting beads, tying a ribbon and much more these books will provide hours of fun and learning opportunities.

The books are of amazing quality, Australian designed and owned.

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New Arrivals – Montessori Materials

Our new Montessori stock is about to arrive which is super exciting!! We have increased our range dramatically so watch this space. New products will include the following:

Montessori Brown Stair
Montessori Cloth Box
Montessori Seed puzzle
Montessori Feet balance exercise
Montessori Infant coin box
Montessori Colour resemblance sorting task
Montessori Bells set
Montessori Land and water form trays

Visit our Montessori Section in a few weeks time to see these items in stock.

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Tips and Tricks for keeping Babies Busy at Home with Creative Play

I am pretty sure that a lot of what I am going to say might not be new or original for experienced mums. But I am hoping that some new first-time mums might find these tips helpful.
If your baby is not crawling yet but already quite active and curious about the world around her she may get frustrated with not being able to explore it at her leisure. This can create a lot of crying, whinging and whining and cause severe headaches for poor mums who are already tired and sleep deprived.
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your babies happy at home:

1. Create “play stations”: Find different spaces around your home where you can place toys and sit or place your baby on her tummy for play. Often toys are placed in one place in the house and it becomes the baby’s play area. But babies get tired of being in the same spot all the time. So changing it up a bit by moving toys to a different room or even to a different corner of the same room can really make a difference.

2. Hide and swap toys: This is an old trick but it works like a charm and often saves you buying new toys when babies get tired of the old ones. Split all of your baby’s toys into 3 – 4 lots. Keep one lot out and hide the other 3. Let the baby play with one lot of toys for about 1 week, then hide and swap for the next one. Rotate the lots at any frequency or order you like. Babies forget the toys they haven’t seen for a while so seeing a toy they haven’t played with for some time is like getting a brand new toy.

3. Tidy up: For me, personally, putting toys away is probably one of the most frustrating household chores – they get thrown around the room in seconds right after you’ve finished tidying. But this chore can be really helpful in keeping your baby happy and engaged with her toys. Babies love creating messes – tipping toys out of boxes, throwing scarves, puzzle pieces, balls around, demolishing neatly built block towers and generally creating lots of havoc. But if they are placed in a messy spot to begin with it is difficult for them to concentrate their attention on a single object as there are too many brightly coloured objects scattered around. Babies tend to be a lot less fussy in play areas where toys are arranged neatly because they can focus on things that interest them and it is easier to get to particular toys that catch their eye. So clench your teeth and tidy those toys even if you absolutely hate doing it.

4. Replace toys with other household items: When all the toys in the house are just not fun anymore you can turn some household objects into toys. Here are some examples of objects that make great fun toys – pots, pans, big plastic ladles, clothes pegs, plastic containers, sealed bags of chips or pasta (they make a wonderful crinkling noise but please supervise your baby to make sure that the bag doesn’t rip), scarves, belts, hats, old computer parts (e.g. mouse, keyboard) and many more. So be creative and turn your house into one big toy shop.

Hopefully, some or all of these tips can help you entertain your baby on those rainy days or just when you need to leave your baby to her own devices for a short while so that you can attend to other household chores. And one last very handy little tip that I have learnt after I gave birth to my second child is that not only it’s ok to leave your baby playing independently (as long as you know that everything around them is safe) but it’s actually good for them. So no need to feel guilty if you are unable to spend every single second of your waking hours with your precious baby – it will teach them the art of playing independently and give them the ability to initiate their own play.

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