Parents: These Kitties Will Be Your Toddler's New Favorite Super Heroes

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Parents: These Kitties Will Be Your Toddler's New Favorite Super Heroes

Parents and caregivers know that screen-time rules for toddlers can be tricky. The current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that there should be no TV or movies — just video chats — for kids under 18 months of age. Then, for kids ages 18 to 24 months, the AAP says parents should choose "high-quality programming/apps and use them together with children, because this is how toddlers learn best." Older toddlers, between the ages of 2 and 3, should be limited to less than an hour of programming per day, and co-viewing is also encouraged (as is making sure that screen time doesn't interfere with sleep).

Knowing that every minute of screen time counts, and understanding that "high quality" benchmark, these are the best toddler shows to watch in 2023. Some of them try to impart facts about topics kids care about, like animals, the environment, the way things work and — of course — dinosaurs. Others work on softer, social-emotional skills, like how to overcome setbacks or how to recognize and regulate emotions when tempers flare. There are plenty of shows that parents of a certain age might remember from when they were young, but made fresh for a new generation of TV viewers. And others are just plain entertaining, something that you wouldn't mind sitting to watch with your kids. Put one of these shows on next time you need a minute, and let the screen-time guilt melt away.

Looking for more recommendations for kids' entertainment? Check out our lists of the best toddler movies, the best movies for kids and the best TV shows for kids.

(Hearst Owned)
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1) Sesame Street

With a whopping 53 seasons of kid-targeted educational TV episodes under its belt, the Sesame Workshop knows a thing or two about how to reach its audience. In addition to introducing toddlers to letter and numbers, Sesame Street covers topics like different jobs kids can have when they grow up, how you can learn about other cultures from those who live far away, how and why people in the same family might have different or similar physical features and strategies for dealing when you feel "tired and off." Plus, there are plenty of guest stars to entertain parents. (Ted Lasso fans might have seen Brett Goldstein stop by the Street this past season.)

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(Sesame Workshop)
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2) Bluey

There's a reason that Bluey has developed a cult of adult fans (and some haters) in addition to toddler admirers. The show, which centers on a family of Australian Heeler dogs, really gets down to kid-level, following young Bluey and her sister Bingo through a series of games they make up and play with their family and friends. The kids sound and act realistically childlike, but there are plenty of Easter eggs and gags in the episodes that are there just to delight parents.

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(Disney+/ABC Kids)
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3) Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a spin-off of Mister Rogers, and it's filled with characters from The Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Kids love Daniel because he's a relatable 5-year-old who deals with the all-too-real struggles over things like sharing, calming down when he's upset or angry and waiting a long time without fussing. Parents like that he gives them easy-to-remember songs that offer strategies for getting through those same situations. ("You can take a turn, and then I'll get it back.)

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(Fred Rogers Productions/PBS Kids)
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4) Blue's Clues & You!

Whether you remember the original run of Blue's Clues, you'll be charmed by Blue's new friend Josh, who helps the pup (and the audience) follow clues to solve mini mysteries. Josh addresses viewers directly and gives kids a chance to shout their ideas and answers at the TV, which makes it feel more interactive than a typical show. If your toddlers take a shine to Blue and Josh, last year Paramount put out the series' first, full-length movie, Blue's Big City Adventure, which also features cameos from all the old Blue's Clues hosts. You can watch the film on Paramount+ or Prime Video.

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(Nickelodeon)
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5) Mickey Mouse Funhouse

This series is the successor to shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures, both of which are also great toddler shows. But the quality of the animation has come a long way since Mickey Mouse Clubhouse debuted, and in each episode a smiling, stylized domicile sends Mickey and his pals off on colorful adventures. Episodes end with a "wiggle giggle" song, so kids can shake their sillies out.

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(Disney)
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6) Peppa Pig

This show has been so popular with the preschool set that it sparked rumors of a "Peppa Pig Effect," which theoretically causes toddlers to use Britishisms and say certain words in Peppa's English accent. Whether it's actually true — though I will admit in my house we started reminding each other to use "sun cream" before we went outside — Peppa's charm is undeniable. In the show, Peppa, her family and her playgroup go on adventures big (a trip to Hollywood) and small (a visit to the science museum), and while there may be mishaps, the Pig family always puts a positive spin on everything.

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(Entertainment One)
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7) SuperKitties

A brand-new show for 2023, Disney Junior's SuperKitties is perfect for any animal lover or superhero fan. In it, a quartet of cats with different powers tries to thwart the evil plans of a recurring group of comedic super-villains — but they wind up empathizing with why the villains might've been tempted to commit the crimes in the first place, so there's a social-emotional focus. Creator Paula Rosenthal told the Disney Fan Club that she watched tons of cat videos to get the kitty behavior right, and parents might also dig the groovy, James Bond-esque theme song.

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(Disney)
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8) Bubble Guppies

You've heard of a school of fish, but what about a school of merfolk? Bubble Guppies follows a group of seven mer-students and their teacher, Mr. Grouper, as they follow their curiosities and delve into topics ranging from how the Sphinx lost its nose to how a conductor leads an orchestra. For kids who like routine, the show is built around a series of recurring bits, from short, Laugh-In-style sketches to poppy musical numbers.

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(Nickelodeon)
10/14
9) Octonauts

Based on the (adorable) books by Meomi, the Octonauts are a team of underwater explorers with a mission of conservation and rescue. Each segment focuses on a different undersea animal, and the adventure ends with a "creature report" that reviews true facts about that species (along with pictures of what they actually look like). After a few direct-to-streaming movies, in 2021 Netflix launched a spinoff series, Octonauts: Above and Beyond, that also showcases land animals.

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(Mainframe Studios)
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10) Doc McStuffins

Great for any toddler with check-up anxiety, Doc McStuffins follows a young girl who tends to all the medical needs of her toys and stuffed animals, showing them there's nothing to fear when the stethoscope is near. When she's not diagnosing her playthings, she helps out her mom, who's also a doctor, and her dad, who stays home to take care of her and her two younger siblings, making her an excellent role model for young viewers. The series ended in 2020, and its creator, Chris Nee, went on to create other great kids' shows, including Disney Junior's Vampirina and Ridley Jones and Ada Twist, Scientist on Netflix.

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(Disney)
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11) Ask the StoryBots

Each episode of this show starts with a question from a real kid — and we all know toddlers have lots of questions. Once the big ask is made, the StoryBots are sent to investigate and bring back an answer (often encountering a celeb or two that a parent might recognize, like Kevin Smith, Weird Al, Ali Wong, Zoe Saldana or Jason Sudeikis). Queries they've handled include how people catch colds (a good one to show to reinforce hand-washing), why people can't eat dessert all the time and how cellphones work — something many parents can't really explain on their own. The series ended in 2019, but the answers still feel fresh.

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(netflix)
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12) Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes

Another new show, this Disney Junior series debuted in March 2023, and it's great for any toddlers who have an excess of energy and love to move their bodies (a.k.a, all of them). Kiya and her friends, who love music, dance and sports, have access to a mega crystal that gives them superpowers — Kiya turns into a "dance ninja" — that they use to help their community. Kiya's city is based on neighborhoods in South Africa, which gives the show a look that's distinct from all the other kids' shows out there.

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(Disney)
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13) Dinosaur Train

Some toddlers are obsessed with dinosaurs. Some just can't get enough of trains, trucks or other vehicles. If the toddler in your life falls into either camp, Dinosaur Train is sure to please. It stars a curious T. Rex named Buddy who lives with his adopted Pteranodon family. Each episode, they all board the train to learn about a different species of dinosaur. Though the show ended in 2020, it has a great pedigree, coming from The Jim Henson Company and Craig Bartlett, who also created Hey Arnold.

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(PBS Kids)

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When kids are 1 year old and 2 years old, parents want to make sure their screentime counts. These are the best, most educational toddler shows.