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7 Movies Moms Let Toddlers Watch

7 Mom-Approved Movies Toddlers Love

Whether or not you let your toddler watch movies is a momentous decision. Once you do, there's no turning back. So it's up to you to choose flicks that your kids love — and that you can live with. Important things to consider include the type (cartoon, live-action, scary, funny), length, and content themes. Here are seven prescreened movies for toddlers that get the seal of approval from moms.

1. Monsters, Inc.
Monsters, Inc. is a top choice among Circle of Moms members across multiple community conversations. It's the story of a group of monsters who generate electricity for their city by scaring children. What's interesting is that even the youngest viewers who might not want to be scared are able, according to a member named Meagan, to differentiate imagination from reality. While this might be categorized as a scary film, it's certainly not in the "horror" category, and it has enough humor to offset the fear factor.

Keep reading to see all seven.

2. Shrek

Another cartoon classic, this one by the brilliant Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy duo is the first Shrek movie, a film about a lovable ogre who goes on a journey with a donkey to save his beloved swamp. For Circle of Moms member Nina's son, the appeal is all about the unlikeliness of this friendship. It also helps that there are great animal sound effects throughout the movie.


3. Finding Nemo

This film
, which is about a clown fish who gets lost in the open sea off the Great Barrier Reef, is an adventure-thriller with enough linear plot to hold even the antsiest kid's attention. Holly's kids, who need a lot of stimulation in their visual entertainment, are riveted by Nemo and his travels.

4. The Karate Kid

Most movies intended for toddlers are cartoons, but are there live-action films that hold little ones' attention? One is The Karate Kid. It may sound way over the average toddler's head, but scores of moms say it's a favorite in their homes. Cheryl's daughter has watched it (or part of it) every day for the last six weeks, a fascination her mom attributes to the graceful and fun karate scenes, which her daughter likes to mimic.

This is a longer film (126 minutes), and some toddlers don't have the attention span for it. Britany's daughter watches feature-length films in half-hour increments, which you could do with any of the longer recommendations on this list.

5. Babe

Babe has a delightful musical score, and Joanna's 2-year-old loves to hum along with songs in specific scenes. One possible reason this film appeals to toddlers is that its stars are theater actors who know how to entertain with physical acting, which can be somewhat melodramatic. It's a hybrid cartoon/live-action production, and it likely helps that there's a simple narrative arc that's easy to follow. It also seems to appeal to girls and boys fairly equally

6. The Jungle Book

A shorter film (78 minutes), The Jungle Book is one of the best adaptations of Rudyard Kipling's work. Naomi's kids love it for its content alone, as the compelling tale of Mowgli, a boy who has been raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. It helps that this is an older film (1967), so production values are a bit less amped than the new releases of today. Toddlers don't get left in the dust because the story line is clear and unfolds fairly slowly.

7. Annie

Annie is a classic film that has it all: music, dancing, and an evil villain. It's a staple for Melissa's kids, and Cheryl says hers love to act out the songs from the movie, complete with pretend tap dancing with brooms and mops. This movie has had many incarnations, but the classic version is the 1982 original.

What other movies do both you and your toddler love?

Image Source: Shutterstock
Join The Conversation
ArianaBrookes1382240338 ArianaBrookes1382240338 3 years

My almost three-year-old is just starting to enjoy watching feature-length films, and I am SO GLAD... there's only so much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse one mama can take. I know that some moms are very concerned about screen time, but for me, as long as she is watching quality programming/movies, I'm just fine with it. As a single mom with a challenging career, if I didn't let her watch a little t.v., I'd never get anything done. So far she has really enjoyed Frozen, Tangled, Beauty & the Beast, and Charlotte's Web (the live action version with Dakota Fanning). Next up will be Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Brave. She watched The Incredibles with my sister, and seemed a little scared at some parts, so we will wait until she's older to watch that one again. P.s. This was a helpful list -- I had forgotten all about Babe and The Jungle Book! I shared this article on my modern mama parenting blog's Facebook page

juliadoherty juliadoherty 3 years
Without "talking smack about any particular movie I find this list a little shocking. Forget whether a specific movie scared a specific kid look at the research about kids and TV viewing habits. Studies link TV viewing before age 2 to ADHD. Also, studies show that children who watch TV or movies with violence are more likely to behave aggressively. Karate Kid is a great movie, but much to violent for a toddler (even if they say they like it). Google Bobo doll study it is good introductory info on children and Media Studies. Google Sur Jally Dream Worlds and find out more about what Hollywood is teaching our kids, nothing good I'm sorry to say. As parents we are responsible for making good choices for our children. That said some things we watched during my sons toddler years... Nemo (we skipped the 1st two scenes where the mom dies), Cars (part 1), Winnie the Pooh movies, lots and lots of Thomas the Tank Engine, Caliuo (sp?( Nick Jr, Sprout (I know these are channels not movies). We also watched some Animal Plant stuff like Meerkat Manor or Ocean documentaries (my son has always loved sea life) We watched no commercial TV until sometime in Kindergarten. While some of this as an adult is stuff you will cringe to watch it was developmentally appropriate for my son so that is what he watched not something I found more interesting but was not developmentally appropriate for him. There are developmental reasons kids want the same shows/movies over and over. Small children need kind of slower paced shows that help them learn about real life. In fact the research on ADD/ADHD and TV. more specifically concluded it was shows that moved fast and had short scene time (switched from scene to scene quickly) such as Sponge Bob that were liked to attention disorders as opposed to slower moving shows with less scene changes. I believe the study used Caliou.
MicheleMaloney78601 MicheleMaloney78601 4 years
For boys (of which I have 3), so far the best movie we have had in our house has been Cars (the original). There is no killing, no dying, no shooting (although Lightning McQueen thinks at one point in the movie he was being shot at). The worst it has is a little cheating from a not very nice car, who ends up being taught a very valuable, moral lesson anyway, for his actions. Cars 2 has nowhere near the same interest for my kids, the plot is over their heads, and the producers changed a winning formula too much to include killing and shooting (prob just to get the older kids back to see it). Any other movie I have tried to let my kids watch has been "too scary Mum" or "I don't like this movie" - all usually b/c of suspense, fear, sadness, scary characters, violence etc. However, now that they are 4 and 5 yr olds, they are right into Super Heroes. Although, most Superhero shows are still too scary, even if they do like to see their favourite characters on the sceen, in their super capes and masks and "sticky" gloves!
TamaraJoslin TamaraJoslin 4 years
Well, my 3 y/o loves Condorman. Yes, Condorman. She is Condorman. At the park. At the Farmer's Market she got her face painted like him. (Yes, I had to tell the painter just use brown and yellow feathers and do whatever you think.) She wears goggles so she is Condorman. Her other fave is Nemo, but I get so tired of hearing Marlin yell. Then there's How to Train Your Dragon. She LOVES Hiccup! Vast variety. But a missed opportunity. Grab some faves from your childhood and crack up!
ChetMC ChetMC 4 years
Wow. My experience is that most of these movies are terrible for toddlers! Our oldest was four (well beyond toddlerhood) the first time she watched Annie and she found the scene where Annie climbs up the railway bridge completely terrifying. Our kids also found aspects of Shrek, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo scary, upsetting, or confusing when they were young (but older than two). The only full length features that all of our kids were able to watch under the age of five were Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins. It might be nice to balance out this list by noting what parents might want to be aware of before they park their two year in front of one of these movies. While some toddlers enjoy these movies many won't. I have often been burned by not looking up movie guides or previewing movies before our kids see them. Even with movies I've seen I've often found that I forgot the scary or inappropriate part or I don't remember it as scary or confusing because I saw the movie when I was eight or nine not four or five.
Very-Bloggy-Beth Very-Bloggy-Beth 4 years
Can we all just agree that some movies are good for some kids, and other movies are good for other kids? And can we all just agree that we can decide for our own children what's ok for them to watch? There's a lot of smack talk about Monster's Inc. and how it scared your kids soooo much, but my son loved it with no issue, but some of your other suggestions? Bambi scared the crap out of him, THE MOM DIES. And he had a lot of questions about Nazis after watching The Sound of Music. This is just a generalized list of suggestions, not "What to Make Your Toddler Watch".
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