Does your baby or toddler just love your phone? When they see it, do they fuss to have it in their possession? Then it is time to start thinking about buying them a phone of their own. You probably think that they are just too young for their own phone, but with today’s toy market you can purchase toy phones that act and look just like the real thing. These phones are smart, sing songs, make noises, light up, and even have features just like your phone.
Not only do they love playing with these phones, but they are great learning tools, too. All of the phones features buttons with numbers and letters, have colors and sing songs that they can sing along with. Each of these features on the phones has been created for a reason. They help prepare your kids developmentally for school through playtime activities. Each feature on the phone physically works to develop their cognitive skills along with their gross- and fine-motor-skill development.
So while you may think that smartphones are reserved for the older crowd, these new toy smartphones are designed just for the younger crowds and they learn from them, too. These are battery-controlled and, with no power or charging cords, are just right for them. Now without getting into the technical side of things, we have created a list of the best phone toys for kids and toddlers. Introduce them into the world of gadgets with one of these phones.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Chat and Count Smart
- Voicemail System
- Toysery Cell Phone
- Brightly Colored Keys
- VTech Baby Little SmartPhone
- Perfect for Little Hands
The Best Phone for Kids and Toddlers Reviewed
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Phones for Kids and Toddlers
Ultimately, a phone for kids has to offer some level of functionality similar to what you’d expect in adult phones. Otherwise, there’s no incentive for kids to choose a play phone over your real, more exciting phone. That’s why we looked for authentic phone functions like talk and text modes, storing contacts, light-up or beeping buttons, and touchscreens with icons. However, “authentic” means different things depending on the age level and type of phone. For example, most toddler phones are small and simple in design, with bright colors and large buttons. They may have pretend apps for simple games and activities, but they generally lack the functionality of a real phone. Another category of play phones is the true-to-life, but non-functioning phones often called display or dummy phones. These phones lack mechanical functions, but their completely realistic design is a function in itself, especially for kids who turn up their noses at “baby” phones.
Older kids, on the other hand, can handle more realistic phones, such as V-Tech’s Call and Chat Learning Phone. Depending on the age and maturity level, they may also be ready for smartphones that can be provisioned on a 2G account through carriers such as T-Mobile and Straight Talk. While 2G is very limiting, most parents feel that children are not ready for phones with data plans until they’re at least in middle school. Furthermore, these phones only have talk and text, thereby giving you greater control who they speak with, and how long they’re on the phone.
Everything from a phone’s functionality to its color scheme should inspire high levels of imaginative play. The foundation of imaginative play is role-playing real-life scenarios and toy phones work perfectly in many of these situations. Even babies with limited verbal abilities are engaged in role-playing when they press buttons and giggle over pre-recorded messages. As for high levels of imaginative play, that can be inspired by different elements, according to your child’s needs and preferences. Some kids, for example, enjoy display phones since they can talk directly into them without interruption. Parents can practice all sorts of calling situations with their children, such as calling 911 or a relative in case of emergencies.
We also looked for themed phones with beloved children’s characters like the Go Spidey Flip Phone or the Minnie Rotary Phone. These phones give children the option to “speak” to their cartoon idols, or even pretend to be that idol, which is very common with the Spider-Man phone. That can lead to some very complex, enriching forms of imaginative play, especially if they’re playing with friends. It can also help them learn social skills like sharing, empathy, and helping the less fortunate. While these lessons are presented in cartoons and movies, children don’t process them nearly as well when they’re only spectators. By acting out scenarios as the character, they can truly begin to process these values, and how to apply them to real-life situations.
From babies to tweens, kids are the reigning experts of rough play and inexplicable accidents. That’s why we did our best to choose durable, kid-tested phones with sturdy casings and limited internal components. However, durability is different based on the type of phone and its target audience. Real phones, for example, are meant for older kids who are responsible enough to take care of a phone. They’re not meant to be dropped or banged around, so repeated episodes of rough handling would inevitably damage the phone. Still, the phones should be made of thick plastic to ensure that they can handle years of normal wear and tear. Furthermore, a well-made phone should be able to withstand the occasional drop from a reasonable height, even on sidewalks and pavement.
As for play phones, these fall into two categories: toy phones and display phones. Toy phones typically have amusing features such as light and sound effects, so how long such features work was something we factored into a phone’s overall durability. Most manufacturers use materials like ABS plastic, which prevents most forms of wear and tear on the casing, screen, and buttons. Display phones, however, have no working features that can be damaged if a phone gets dropped, even in water (a big advantage with toddlers). On the other hand, the plastic is much thinner on these phones, so they may crack or get dented from repeated rough play, or being thrown onto hard surfaces. Hence, we have to acknowledge that display phones are more prone to damage than ABS plastic toy phones, but they should hold up just fine under normal levels of play.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s a good age to get my child a real phone?
A: There’s no universal answer to this question, but as a general rule, you’ll want to be sure that your kids are ready for certain features. In addition to using them, they should be responsible enough to use them safely. A big point of contention is social media, which most parents allow their children to use on the family computer in a busy area like the living room or kitchen. With a kid’s cell phone that can be used anywhere, anytime, it is inevitably harder to track your kids, even with tracking apps or software. Additional features like taking pictures and texting can become problematic as well if your child starts communicating with inappropriate or dangerous people.
Ultimately, the right age and maturity level is something you’ll have to decide for your own child. However, we advise phones with extremely limited functions in the beginning. Such a limited network cannot provide internet or app store access, which we believe is inappropriate for a starter phone. Once your child learns to be responsible with safe, built-in functions and a limited contact list, then you can think about smartphones and other advanced devices. Still, you should never feel pressured to get your child a certain type of phone by a certain age.
Q: Wouldn’t a display phone be too boring for a child?
A: For some children, yes, but there are children that actually prefer reality over special effects and amusing features. In fact, there are plenty of kids who don’t like phones that talk back to them or play songs at the push of a button. According to them, that’s not what a real phone does, and that takes away from the fun of having a phone, even if it’s fake. They may also have little to no interest in cute characters and animations, or big, colorful buttons that make it loud and clear that it’s a toy.
The benefit to a display phone is that it’s modeled after existing phones, which is why you see authentic logos for carriers like Verizon. Because they’re commonly used by cell phone stores, they are completely accurate in terms of exterior features, including the size, color, screen image, buttons, and icons. While it may seem boring that none of these features actually work, this is not an issue with kids who have imaginations to spare. For them, role-playing situations like ordering pizza or making a doctor’s appointment are incredibly fun and interesting, but only if it’s done on a “real” phone.
Q: Which phones are best for children with communication disorders?
A: All the phones on our list can benefit children with communication disorders, which are disorders that affect an individual’s ability to understand, detect and apply language and speech in their daily lives. Many children with communication disorders suffer from issues like speech and sound disorders, as well as psychological issues that make it difficult for them to express themselves in public. Play phones can be very helpful in working through these issues since they can provide a safe outlet for kids to talk and role-play at their own pace.
Real phones, however, can be extremely helpful–perhaps even life-saving–if they offer alternative communication options like texting and SOS emergency contacts. The SOS emergency option allows you to program a few numbers as emergency contacts, so just pressing that button can help children signal that they’re in trouble. You can also role-play with real phones, by the way, if you’re a child is in another room. They can practice situations like “ordering” from the kitchen while they’re in the living room, or practice role-plays with relatives and friends who are in different locations.
Q: Are any of these phones drool/ waterproof?
A: This is a really big concern for parents of babies or toddlers who are still putting things in their mouths. Obviously, the iPhone-shaped teething toy is meant to be put in the mouth and so is drool and waterproof. The only phones that are definitely water/ drool proof are the display phones with no working features. These phones lack internal components like batteries and microchips, so there’s nothing that can be destroyed, nor anything that can harm your baby or toddler. All other phones, including most of the play phones, have batterized features which will stop working if the phones are repeatedly exposed to moisture. Even if you remove the batteries, there are internal components that can act as contaminants, so you should keep these phones out of your child’s mouth as much as possible.
Q: What is ABS plastic, and why does it matter?
A: Plastics can be quite confusing, and sometimes scary depending on what you read about them. ABS plastic, however, is a very useful type of thick, durable plastic commonly used in toys like LEGOs. It’s also used for a wide variety of applications such as computer keys and plastic face guards on wall sockets. This plastic has a strong resistance to corrosion with an extremely low melting point. That means it can be exposed to much higher temperatures than most plastics without changing in shape or texture. Plus, it’s been proven to be generally harmless since it doesn’t have any known carcinogens or adverse health effects from repeated exposure. Its proven safety and resistance to physical impacts make it ideal for toy phones, especially for babies and toddlers.