15+ Best Cartoons and Movies for Toddlers

Yes, we know. Parents need to be very careful when it comes to their precious little toddlers and screen time. These humans are always looking for some time in front of the screen, but once you let them enjoy a little — bam! — you’ll beg ever to set eyes on your tablet again.

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But that’s not the worse part; they’ll never give ears to anything you have to say anymore because they’ll be too caught up in whatever fun video you have on for their pleasure. But sometimes, you need to take advantage of the TV’s ability to zone your child out work to your advantage.

If there’s any work or house chores that you need to get done and all it requires is just a little bit of time to tackle it without your tiny buddies making everything take longer than usual, then TV to the rescue. For that and many other things, a good toddler movie may just work wonders to help entertain your kids long enough for you to get things done.

However, you also know that not every toddler movie is as effective as you’d want. In some ways, we have noticed that this age group is packed with the harshest movie critics. The best kids’ movies for your little humans between 1- to 3-year-olds can not be too boring, scary, or long, or the kids will make you turn them off.

Not all Disney movies are good enough for your toddlers, as they may be too intense for them. Next time you try to see a cartoon or movie together with you little human, or when you just need some time alone in the bathroom, you can try one of the toddler-pleasers below.

Paw Patrol: Ready, Race, Rescue! (2019)

This is a super short movie — below an hour — so it’s excellent as it’ll last just about the length of time as your toddler’s attention span. The film follows the life of pups of Adventure Bay as they work together with some racecar drivers for fun Adventure Bay 500.

Fun and Fancy-Free (1947)

The coolest part about the Fun and Fancy-Free movie is that though it was made as far back as in the ’40s — it’s a super exciting anthology of two Disney short films with some connecting content. Hence, you simply have to skip to the part you want if you’re not ready to see the whole thing.

Early Man (2018)

This movie is one that imagines the origins of the game of soccer in the time of the caveman, so any tot who has been signed up for youth soccer might just be interested. There is some peril because it is the time of the dinosaur, after all. And there’s also some human meanness, and some rib-cracking potty humor, but all is done in a silly and cartoony way.

The Peanuts Movie (2015)

You will agree that all the Peanuts movies are lovely because they do not condescend to kids, and they are usually about how being a child can sometimes be a real struggle. While that message may be lost on your toddler until much later, they’ll still fall in love with the antics of Snoopy and Woodstock, and also get a kick out of the dancing Peanuts children.

Shaun the Sheep: The Movie (2015)

From the stables of Aardman Animation, the same guys behind Wallace and Gromit comes another hilarious tale of a weird farmer and his flock of sheep who end up losing each other in the Big City.

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Here, the sheep are mostly the stars, but they don’t talk, so there isn’t so much of dialogue that may go over your toddler’s head, making it relatively easy for the littlest viewers to grab. If you think your kids enjoy it, then they can view the sequel showing on Netflix.

Ponyo (2008)

We need to point out that There’s some peril in this film, which is loosely based on the story of The Little Mermaid, but if you think your kids can handle a little scariness, this will be worth it for such a beautiful animation from the super talented director Hayao Miyazaki and his Ghibli production house Studio.

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! (2008)

This is a sure bet for a good movie for toddlers. This is because pretty much anything and everything that comes out of the ridiculous mind of Dr. Seuss will gel with the mind and brain of a toddler. However, this one seems to also have a good message about protecting the small guy — which is something that your little kids may relate to on a gut level. You should try this.

Ratatouille (2007)

There’s no much danger here as most of the danger you’ll notice comes in the form of a serious food critic (though there’s a scene with a few people who run around in the kitchen trying to catch Remy the rat), so it shouldn’t be so frightening for your little ones.

Also, they’ll enjoy the story of a little rat who takes the risk to pursue his dream. Or just maybe they’ll get a kick out of the watching a rat scurry around the kitchen and making some delicious meals.

Curious George (2006)

This is about an adorable primate that gets into a boatload of mischief, but it’s often with a good heart. Let’s not also forget that parents will be relieved that the voice behind the tall man in the Yellow Hat is that of Will Ferrell, so there’s a little something in there for them.

Cars (2006)

Little kids will enjoy the sight of the race cars zooming around the track, and they just might like it better when the movie finally slows down and settles into an exciting story of small-town life in Route 66. Even if the scenes that extol the benefits of the simple town life are lost on the children, the dear Mater the tow truck is there to keep them interested.

Chicken Run (2000)

Another movie by Aardman, this stop-motion animated film, is mainly about a group of chickens who plan to fly the coop and find freedom. While that may seem like a complicated goal to us adults, certainly, a bunch of claymation chickens racing around will help to get a giggle out of any young fellow.

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999)

In this animated movie, Elmo’s lovey is accidentally thrown away, and when he attempts to retrieve it, he is transported to Grouchland. The best way to describe Elmo is by comparing it to catnip for toddlers. But then, it doesn’t exactly matter what the cartoon is about so long as he is the star.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

This is just about one of the most family-friendly movies from Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli, and it’s a movie that follows two sisters as they get a new house, and meet strange and beautiful creatures living in their new apartment.

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The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

This may have been one of your favorites as a child. While there are many Disney movies featuring dragons, scary witches, or monsters, this bear with tiny brain is only getting into the mildest of scrapes. Your young ones will find this pooh bear fun to watch and even want to watch more when you tell them about the 2011’s Winnie the Pooh.

The Jungle Book (1967)

While we know that some of the animal violence in this movie may need to be fast-forwarded, we won’t deny that it is worth putting this one on for the fun musical numbers like “The Bare Necessities.”

Mary Poppins (1964)

If we’re being honest, the running time of 139-minute is most likely too much for your toddler to sit through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t skip to your child’s favorite songs and still enjoy a movie’s worth of entertainment from there.

These are only a few of the best movies you can have your toddler watch. Indeed some of them are really old, but they are evergreen and have a few lessons to teach. But hey, we’re ultimately here for fun, and that’s what we’re going to get.

Movies for Toddlers
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Emmanuella Oluwafemi
Emmanuella Oluwafemi is a Sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and pedicurist. When she's not writing an article, she's surfing the web for new skills to learn.
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