Looking for kids TV outside the uncanny valley
June 27, 2020 9:23 AM   Subscribe

We've started sparingly watching TV with our 15 month old, and there are really only two shows that she likes that I can tolerate. I'm looking for interestingly animated, fun, age appropriate shows that I can watch with her.

So far we like episodes of 'Yo Gabba Gabba' found on YouTube and 'Hey Duggee' found on YouTube. I think she's a bit young for Sesame Street. She likes 'In the Night Garden', but honestly it's so surreal and Matthew Barney-ish and upsetting that it actually makes me feel a bit ill.

Most Netflix stuff suitable for her age seems to be the same uncanny 3D animation. I (personally) find Peppa Pig super offputting because, uhm, the heads really look like penises and the grunting grosses me out. We have Disney+, Prime, and Netflix. We don't really use iPlayer, but I'd be willing to try if there's truly great kids' content.

We've tried watching a bit of Sesame Street, but I think she's a bit too little for it. She LOVES anything with animals, that's why Hey Duggee is a real hit. We sit and watch a bit of TV together at the end of the day after nursery and before dinner, so I want to find things we can enjoy together. Surely there's an Adventure Time for babies out there?
posted by nerdfish to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My kid has loved Daniel Tiger since around that age. It’s on YouTube as well as free on pbs kids app. It’s very tranquil compared to a lot of stuff out there.
posted by skewed at 9:31 AM on June 27 [5 favorites]

does it have to have a story? we started with Super Simple Songs on youtube and only did that for a long time.
posted by brilliantine at 9:32 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Have you checked out Puffin Rock on Netflix? Very sweet, lovely looking, tons of animals.
posted by Knicke at 9:32 AM on June 27 [6 favorites]

Daniel Tiger is tolerable and the songs are useful! My daughter really loved kittysaurus YouTube videos at that age (still does)Just watching cats be cats.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:44 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]

We're super super into Hey Duggee, and have also been watching the animated adaptations of the Julia Donaldson picture books, with Zog being a particular favourite.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:44 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Thirding Daniel Tiger. It's calm and sweet. The songs really are useful to me in parenting.
posted by entropyiswinning at 9:48 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

We just discovered the series "If I were a... "
on Netflix. It shows video of real animals doing real animal things with two children narrating what the animals are doing and why.
posted by WowLookStars at 9:49 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]

Definitely Puffin Rock and Daniel Tiger. My two year old also loves the Twirly-Woos and Maisy Mouse (on YouTube). We’ve also found the little films of children’s books made by Weston Woods/Scholastic are really great for younger toddlers and preschoolers. They are less over stimulating than a lot of shows. You can find them on the Scholastic Bookflix site.
posted by booky at 9:49 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

It might skew a little old for her, but I would try Sarah & Duck and see if it holds her attention. It has the surreal-but-not-creepy factor that makes it fun for adults to watch too. I also agree with Puffin Rock for sure; that was a huge hit with my kids at that age, and especially if she already likes animals I bet she'll really enjoy it.
posted by cpatterson at 10:15 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]

Was also coming to say Sarah & Duck!
posted by Glinn at 10:17 AM on June 27

PBS Kids is where I'd look. Peep in the Big Wide World was something my son liked when he was little (though not that little). You might also try nature documentaries; she won't understand the narrative, but watching the animals can be really cool. A lot of good BBC ones are on Netflix.
posted by gideonfrog at 10:18 AM on June 27 [4 favorites]

Take a look at Masha and the Bear on Netflix. It’s really cute, very cleverly done. It is a bit wild with Masha bouncing around all over the place but it’s very sweet.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:21 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Sophie the Giraffe (on Hulu) has been the most engaging for our 15 month old. He also likes all the singing in sesame street, but focuses way more for the elmo's world bits. You might want to try just skipping to that.
posted by lownote at 10:31 AM on June 27

Came in to suggest Puffin Rock, it's amazing.
posted by Mizu at 10:33 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]

Puffin Rock, Pocoyo
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:37 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Sarah & Duck is amazing, and they have a Youtube channel so it's easy to see if kiddo is interested.
posted by aramaic at 11:09 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Winnie the Pooh on Disney+
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 11:35 AM on June 27

Nthing Puffin Rock, Daniel Tiger, and Pocoyo. Elmo’s World is decent and for a bit younger than Sesame Street. My just turned 3-year-old loves Octonauts, which I also like! It’s on Netflix and is all about animals with animal main characters. Bluey on Disney+ is also amazing! Maybe a bit older (closer to 3).
posted by wsquared at 11:47 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Krtek the mole.

Tiny Planets

Do not expose your child to the endless Land Before Time series. Children seem to really like it, but adults (me, at least) hate it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:59 AM on June 27

Kipper the Dog (link to full episodes seasons 1-6 on youtube)
posted by belladonna at 12:32 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]

Blues Clues still around? (or old episodes) were good for my kiddo and actually I liked it too. Sweet and calming. She doesn't have to be able to get the "clues" to enjoy.
posted by emjaybee at 1:16 PM on June 27

Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit. We also watched Hilda on Netflix starting when my kid was 3 or so - I think it’s pitched a bit over her head but it’s lovely.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:56 PM on June 27

I loved watching Pingu when the kids were young (so did they!), episodes are 5 minutes long.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 2:00 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above posters about puffin rock. It really is the nicest kids show.

I know it's not animated, which is what you asked for but when I started watching tv with my son, we got a lot of enjoyment out of nature documentaries like planet earth and blue planet. It was really nice to watch with him and just talk about the animals and interact. Now, my son is 3 and we watch a lot of cooking youtube videos. Don't discount things that you might like to watch, if they are also suitable for kids.
posted by ice-cream forever at 2:13 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]

Came here to say Kipper, linked by belladonna above. I loved that show. It's so sweet and soothing. I would watch it even without the kids.
posted by libraryhead at 2:32 PM on June 27

How about some retro classics on YouTube? Button Moon, Huxley Pig, Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, SuperTed...

On BBC iPlayer, The Clangers has also had a delightful reboot recently, which has kept the charm of the original.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 2:34 PM on June 27

Mighty Little Bheem on Netflix is very good - no talking, just music and the hijinx of an exceptionally strong baby in India.
posted by cessair at 5:48 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]

Octonauts!! My kids started watching it around that age and my eldest is still watching it now at 6. It’s great and she can recite all manners of facts about sea creatures, which is awesome.
posted by lydhre at 8:41 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]

My 19 mo granddaughter is STILL into Baby Shark. Like, ALL the Baby Shark. And by extension, anything Pinkfong. (She's spending at least six absolutely necessary hours in the car per week right now, and we've resorted to running these through the speakers just for the audio, when necessary for achieving "calm toddler".)

She also likes Cocomelon videos. These, too, are on Youtube.

As for "regular" TV, she's insanely into Scooby Doo. Any of them, series or movies, except the live action movies. That started around 15-16 months. She also asks for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ("Mac") and Dora the Explorer ("Backpack") by the names she's chosen to call the shows. Other shows that have actually caught her attention at various times include Vampirina, Doc McStuffins, Gummi Bears, and whatever the one is called with the cat sheriff.
posted by stormyteal at 10:11 PM on June 27

Seconding Octonauts! It's a great show and definitely the type of show that is moderately enjoyable for parents, too!
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:07 PM on June 27

Bluey! Imaginative parenting with an involved dad, gorgeous animation, sometimes classical music.
posted by quercus23 at 2:28 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

The first TV show in which my daughter ever expressed interest around that age was Word Party on Netflix. Four animal babies in diapers (babies love to watch other babies) learning words and stuff.
posted by fso at 4:26 AM on June 29

I don't exactly enjoy the Cocomelon/Pinkfong videos (Cocomelon is on Netflix) but they don't grate on me and they seem really good for my two-year old. She's learning the canonical kids songs, actions, lots of words. Plus weird new songs, but all of the repetition is great at teaching vocabulary.

I am so grateful it's not 7 years ago, stuck with cable and watching In the Night Garden, Toopy and Binoo, and, wow I don't know how you can handle Yo Gabba Gabba.
posted by kitcat at 11:10 AM on June 29

There’s a very peaceful Sophie la giraffe show that was popular here!
posted by beignet at 12:57 AM on June 30

Thanks for all the great responses! Puffin Rock is now a massive hit, followed closely by Daniel Tiger.

I can handle Yo Gabba Gabba because I'm an elder millennial and I enjoy seeing Weezer pop up unexpectedly :)
posted by nerdfish at 3:42 AM on July 2

Yo gabba gabba was created by the aquabats singer so they do get some interesting musical guests.

If your kid likes zany, pee wees playhouse is good.
posted by WeekendJen at 4:14 AM on July 2

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