With millions of channels available on YouTube, it’s important to set up the appropriate parental safeguards, filters and best practices to protect your kids. But it’s equally important to choose the best channels and content for them to watch.
So what are the best channels? From baking, singing and unboxings to nature, crafts and cartoons, we’ve put together a list of fun and kid-friendly YouTube channels to put your mind at ease the next time your munchkin grabs your smartphone or laptop. Best of all: All of these channels are available on YouTube Kids.
Super Simple Songs
The adorably animated video for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on Super Simple Songs, which has more than 658 million views, has sent my kid off to dreamland more times than I can count. But nursery rhymes and children’s songs are just the beginning of what Super Simple Songs has to offer; You’ll also find a range of educational shows and videos featuring original music and animations. Smiley little monsters teach kids about eating healthy and sharing, while the adorable animals of the Treetop Family show kids the wonders of the animal world.
Let the soothing voice and lightly picked folksy guitar of KidsTV123’s A.J. Jenkins, the channel’s main songsmith, teach your toddler about everything from shapes and colours to numbers and animal sounds. Yes, the animations are sometimes a bit odd, but they are bright and colourful and provide magical eye candy to keep kids watching and learning. Maybe it’s the repetition talking, but Jenkins’s songs are really catchy (his Halloween tune, “Spooky Spooky,” was stuck in my—er, my daughter’s—head till Christmas), and with several curated playlists on the channel, you can let a bunch of them play while you get the dishes done.
When I was a kid, Grover taught me the difference between near and far, and I learned to count to 12 largely because of the funky 12 Pinball cartoon. Nearly 50 years strong, Sesame Street is a staple of children’s programming and, happily, its essence carries over to its YouTube channel, too. The gang’s all here—Elmo, Big Bird, Abby, Oscar, Snuffy, Cookie, Bert & Ernie and all their famous friends—with new videos uploaded daily to teach kids many of the life lessons they’ll need, like Robin Williams helping the Two-Headed Monster understand conflict and Mark Ruffalo and Murray learning about empathy. Of course, there are all the celebrity songs (Feist’s “1,2,3,4,” Adam Sandler’s Elmo song), but there are also loads of cartoon shorts, like Marvie and Super Dino Pals, and other segments to keep kids guessing.
For kids and parents who like to cook or bake, watching Nerdy Nummies could very well turn into a cool weekly or monthly kid-parent activity to get you both doing something fun together. And fun is the name of the game here. Host Rosanna Pansino has built a massive fan base by delivering weekly videos (new ones every Tuesday) where she and a guest—everyone from her sister to celebrities to the Swedish Chef—bake up all manner of cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other confections, all themed with whatever nerdy or pop culture reference she’s into. You’ve probably seen her Anna and Elsa princess cake, but if you want to impress the little geeks in your family, Pansino has created awesome edibles à la Game of Thrones, The Legend of Zelda, Minions, every Disney princess imaginable, Harry Potter, Star Wars and more.
With a commitment to meeting the educational objectives of the Ontario Curriculum for grades JK to 5 for its own TVOKids-produced shows, this YouTube channel features regularly updated, full episodes of them, including the popular math-focused series Odd Squad, CGI dinosaur series Dino Dan and STEM-tastic Annedroids. Oh, wait, did we mention a little show called PAW Patrol? You can watch full episodes of the Canadian-produced hit on the TVOKids YouTube channel, too.
My little one would like it to be Halloween all year round. If you have kids who love to dress up, have their faces painted or even do full-on cosplay, then KittiesMama is going to keep you and your kiddos really busy. Run by a high-energy and high-positivity Florida-based family of five (mom, dad, three kids and four cats), the near-daily uploads, which mostly star the kids (Noah, Jonah and Emma), feature makeup tutorials, crafts and toy demos/unboxings, among other hijinks. Some of the makeup and cosplay tutorials are truly amazing (Monster High, zombies, My Little Pony) and will have your family set for Halloween for years to come.
For School-Aged Kids
Probably best suited to kids at the top end of the school-aged range (9+), TED-Ed is an amazing resource for young thinkers in your family. As the name suggests, TED-Ed is the youth and education arm of the TED foundation. The original animated videos on the site are creative collaborations between TED-involved experts and speakers, TED Fellows and various educators, producers and directors. The videos are beautifully animated and present kids and adults alike with thoughtful topics, riddles and tutorials that are sure to bake your noodle. Titles like “What’s So Great About the Great Lakes?” “How High Can You Count On Your Fingers?” and “Why Doesn’t Anything Stick to Teflon?” are just the tip of the iceberg.
Cartooning 4 Kids | How to Draw
Whether or not your kids are artistically inclined, this channel is mesmerizing to watch, just to see the process of drawing neat-looking cartoon characters unfold. Grab some Sharpies and paper and follow along with the channel’s talented artists as they guide you, line by line, through the creation of all your kids’ favourite characters. There are hundreds to choose from, including every Pokémon you can think of, Marvel and DC superheroes, Star Wars characters, Elsa, Ariel and Hello Kitty—you name it, you and your kids can learn to draw it. Or just sit back and watch them draw.
San Diego Zoo
Consistently ranked as one of the world’s best zoos, the San Diego Zoo is home to nearly 4,000 animals from more than 650 species and subspecies, many of which are regularly featured on their YouTube channel. You and your kids better start practising your best “awws” because their panda cubs, baby gorillas, cuddly koalas, polar bears and wrinkly baby elephants will be too much for your hearts to handle. The zoo’s dedication to conservation and education also comes through in their videos, offering ample opportunities to teach kids about compassion and the importance of the animal kingdom.
Psst! Did you know that Today’s Parent has its own YouTube channel? You’ll find postpartum exercises, fun craft and DIY ideas, unique birthday party ideas, kids’ hair tutorials, baby care videos and so much more (seriously, we’re obsessed with creating tons of awesome videos). We upload new videos every Friday.