The 12 Best Toddler Shows to Stream

Sister and brother watching TV and playing with a firetruck on the couch.

Getty Images / Westend61

Every parent needs a little break sometimes; and, for many, the first instinct may be to grab the remote. If you're feeling guilty about it, don't! Here's why: screen time can actually be a valuable learning experience if you actively watch together. (i.e., not just silently staring at the iPad for hours on end.)

According to Shelley Pasnik, director of the Center for Children & Technology, learning for young children is driven by human interaction. Kids need back-and-forth communication that encourages them to talk about what they're seeing and get a response in return (also known as contingent engagement). It's the social aspect of screen time that truly makes a difference in how children retain information.

Of course, it's still important to limit viewing in order for them to engage in more hands-on activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one hour or less per day for children older than 2 years old.

That said, screen time can be a great opportunity for learning and connection with caregivers. We've rounded up some of the best TV shows to stream with your toddler that are entertaining, educational, and full of positive social interactions:

How to encourage active viewing:

  • Ask questions about what they are seeing ("What colors do you see?" or "How many apples do they have?")
  • Point out good behavior (friendship, cooperation, concern for others)
  • Find ways to connect what you're viewing with real life
  • Ask how they would respond to different scenarios they're seeing on screen
  • Help them identify emotions the characters are feeling (happy, sad, angry)
  • Encourage them to sing along with songs

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Number of Seasons: Five

Episode Run-Time: 28 minutes

Streaming Service: PBS Kids

Why It's a Winning Pick

"Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" is a PBS Kids animated series for preschoolers that's built on the premise of the beloved classic, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." The main character is 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, who talks directly to viewers, making them feel like neighbors.

This animated series is a great option for learning valuable social skills, which the show teaches through imagination, creativity, and catchy melodies. By following Daniel's everyday adventures in preschool, viewers learn practical strategies and skills necessary to help them grow and learn.

Bubble Guppies

Number of Seasons: Five

Episode Run-Time: 23 minutes

Streaming Services: Nick Jr., Noggin, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu

Why It's a Winning Pick

Dive into the underwater world of the Bubble Guppies. These seven preschool-aged mermaid-like creatures with colorful fins and even more colorful personalities come together in their classroom to learn from their teacher, Mr. Grouper.

The songs in each episode are upbeat, informative, and made for easy listening. During recess, the guppies use their imaginations to teach viewers about the day's lessons. The characters often ask viewers for help with different areas (counting, matching, decoding emotions, etc.) while encouraging positive social interactions and empathy.

Some older kids might have questions about the logistics of the guppies' underwater happenings (How can it rain underwater? Is that really a fireplace in the classroom?). Regardless, the colorful characters and engaging storylines make it engaging for parents and kids alike.

Bluey

Number of Seasons: Two

Episode Run-Time: Eight minutes

Streaming Services: Disney Now, Disney +

Why It's a Winning Pick

"Bluey" is an Australian animated series that has gained major popularity (and critical acclaim) in the United States. It features a cartoon dog family—Mum (Chilli), Dad (Bandit), and their two daughters, Bluey and Bingo (roughly ages 6 and 4). Each episode follows Bluey and Bingo as they come up with imaginative, silly, and often funny games, which their parents are eager to play.

The great thing about "Bluey" is that it focuses on how important pretend play is in a young child's development. Bluey and Bingo's Mum and Dad exemplify the type of parents many aspire to be—endlessly patient, open-minded, and enthusiastically invested in their kids' overactive imaginations. This Emmy-winning show's inventiveness, heartwarming messages, and laugh-out-loud adventures offer a refreshing reminder of how fun it is to be a kid.

Blue's Clues & You

Number of Seasons: Two

Episode Run-Time: 23 minutes

Streaming Services: Nick Jr., Noggin, Hulu

Why It's a Winning Pick

"Blue's Clues & You" is a modern reboot of the 90's classic, "Blue's Clues," featuring a live-action host in an animated world. The series is on its third host, Josh Dela Cruz, whose cheerful personality and witty sense of humor are enough to crack a smile from even the moodiest of toddlers.

Staying true to the premise of its popular predecessor, each episode of "Blue's Clues & You" follows Josh on an interactive hunt for pawprint clues left by his puppy, Blue. The clues provide hints to what Blue's plans are for the day—for example, what book she wants to read or what she wants to see at the beach. Josh speaks to young viewers directly, pausing to ask for help, react to what they might be feeling, and of course, encourage them to sing along. "Blue's Clues & You" is a fun way for your toddler to practice cognitive thinking while working on math, science, reading, and social skills.

Peg + Cat

Number of Seasons: Two

Episode Run-Time: 11 minutes

Streaming Service: PBS Kids

Why It's a Winning Pick

When it comes to their animated series "Peg + Cat," PBS Kids asks one main question: "What would it be like to wake up and find yourself in the middle of a math word problem?"

That's the premise for this fun, math-based adventure show intended for 3 to 5-year-olds. For the two main characters, Peg and Cat, their problems aren't just academic exercises but real-life problems. They work to get themselves out of trouble in quirky, humorous ways—ultimately making math exciting and engaging for young minds.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Number of Seasons: Five

Episode Run-Time: 30 minutes

Streaming Service: Disney +

Why It's a Winning Pick

In "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," Mickey, along with friends Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Pluto, takes preschooled-aged viewers on different adventures that engage early math and problem-solving skills. It promotes out-of-the-box thinking, allowing viewers to think of imaginative ways to use normal, everyday objects.

"Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" ends each episode with "the hot dog dance," which is a surefire way to get the kiddos up on their feet and laughing in no time.

Dino Ranch

Number of Seasons: One

Episode Run-Time: 12 minutes

Streaming Services: Disney Now, Disney +

Why It's a Winning Pick

"Dino Ranch" is a Canadian animated series that follows the Cassidy family—parents Bo and Jane Cassidy, and their three adopted children, Jon, Min, and Miguel. In this world, dinosaurs and humans live alongside each other, and the Cassidy's run a successful dinosaur ranch and sanctuary.

Jon, Min, and Miguel embark on different adventures, from saving endangered dinosaurs to dealing with the menacing Tinhorn family that lives nearby (to whom the dino ranchers are incredibly kind, regardless of their annoying antics.)

If your toddler loves dinosaurs, "Dino Ranch" is a fun option, and each episode reinforces the importance of hard work, determination, and helping others. It also sheds a positive light on the love and support found in blended families.

Beat Bugs

Number of Seasons: Three

Episode Run-Time: 30 minutes

Streaming Service: Netflix

Why It's a Winning Pick

A whole children's show inspired by the music of the Beatles? Chalk this one up as a win for parents!

"Beat Bugs" is an Emmy-winning, Canadian-Australian series that follows five childlike bugs who learn lessons about the world from their backyard home. Each episode incorporates different Beatles songs performed by modern artists like P!nk, Sia, and James Corden, just to name a few. The bugs love to explore, invent, have fun, sing, and overcome problems with courage, creativity, and friendship.

Doc McStuffins

Number of Seasons: Five

Episode Run-Time: 22 minutes

Streaming Services: Disney Now, Disney +

Why It's a Winning Pick

There are so many wonderful aspects of Disney Jr.'s "Doc McStuffins." The main character is a 6-year-old girl named Doc McStuffins, who aims to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a doctor. The McStuffins family (who also includes Doc's dad and younger siblings) is African-American, which is a much-needed dose of diversity when it comes to children's TV shows.

Doc runs a "clinic" in her backyard where she acts as a doctor to her stuffed animals. Using her magical stethoscope, she's able to bring the stuffed animals to life, interact with them, and "heal" them if they're broken.

"Doc McStuffins" teaches young viewers to embrace differences, face fears, and follow dreams. If there's a "right" way to educate children about the importance of health and safety, an ensemble of loveable stuffed animals and their gentle, nurturing caregiver is definitely it.

Dora The Explorer

Number of Seasons: 8

Episode Run-Time: 22 minutes

Streaming Services: Noggin, Amazon Prime Video

Why It's a Winning Pick

There's a reason "Dora The Explorer" has been around since 1999—kids love it! The show stars 7-year-old Dora and her friend Boots, a monkey. They speak directly to viewers, bringing them on exciting, educational, and interactive adventures.

Preschool-aged viewers follow a map to reach their destination, check their backpack for tools, and tackle unforeseen obstacles—all while singing songs and learning Spanish along the way. The characters are engaging, fun, and encourage children to use math and problem-solving skills.

Gabby's Dollhouse

Number of Seasons: One

Episode Run-Time: 23 minutes

Streaming Services: Netflix

Why It's a Winning Pick

Netflix has cleverly tapped into childrens' love of cats with "Gabby's Dollhouse." It stars the real-life character of Gabby, an outgoing, positive, kitty-obsessed 11-year-old girl. Using her magical cat ears, she's able to shrink down into an animated world of adorable cat characters that live inside her dollhouse.

The different cats (from shimmery MerCat to the slightly grumpy-yet-still-loveable Catrat) are a big part of the show's charm. At its core, "Gabby's Dollhouse" facilitates a growth mindset for children by embracing mistakes and finding ways to learn from them. Gabby's optimistic nature teaches viewers to see the best in every situation while encouraging them to never give up.

Octonauts

Number of Seasons: Four

Episode Run-Time: 23 minutes

Streaming Services: Netflix

Why It's a Winning Pick

Another popular Netflix option, "Octonauts" follows a group of animals (a polar bear, rabbit, dog, cat, and sea otter) that explore the world's oceans with the goal of saving aquatic creatures from danger. The series features encounters with real sea creatures, where the Octonauts often need to learn biological or behavioral facts about them in order to save the day.

The characters in "Octonauts" provide toddler viewers with excitement, adventure, action, and a motto your kids will be repeating until bedtime: "Explore! Rescue! Protect!"

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Child Mind Institute. The Benefits of Watching TV With Young Children. 2019.

  2. Council On Communications And Media. Media and Young Minds. Pediatrics. 2016 Nov; 138(5): e20162591; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2591