This post has been updated with recs for two-year-olds of all genders. Click to skip to that section!
Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom
Bluey: “Bluey is an adorable Australian show all about family play. It's a dog family (with an amazing house if you ask me.) It makes me smile and laugh and encourages sibling and parent imaginative play. Really love that one!”
Bo on the Go
Cleo and Cuquin: “It has been a consistent favorite of my daughters for well over a year. The main character is a girl named Cleo, and the story plots involve creative problem solving/imagination among Cleo and her siblings. Very cute and not a huge commitment (episodes are under 10 minutes).”
Curious George: “problem solving. They use trial and error to find solutions that are not complete nonsense. Male chimp (I think?) and the backstory is horrible, but passes the Bechdel test”
Doc McStuffins: “I got my daughter into Doc McStuffins (on Disney+), which features a Black girl who diagnoses her toys’ maladies. The girl’s mother is a pediatrician and the dad appears to be a SAHD (but I may be wrong about that). I have a low tolerance for kids’ shoes and that one has been pretty good. I guess I’m late to the game because apparently the franchise is quite popular.”
Dora the Explorer
Hello Ninja: “has a boy and girl duo that get equal screen time. That's a favorite here (added bonus.. the ninjas wear masks so initially it helped a lot in getting my son to wear a mask all the time saying he was a ninja).”
Hero Elementary: “It has 2 girls and 2 boys as main characters who use the ‘super powers of science’ to solve problems. My 3 y o loves it.”
Hey Duggee: “also a new favorite--characters are not-very-gendered animals.”
Let's Go Luna: “It's a show about a traveling circus and the moon. There are characters of both genders and Luna the moon is female and not pink or frilly. They explore different cities as they travel the world. I actually enjoy watching this one.”
Masha and the Bear: “Both my daughter and I love Masha and the Bear on Netflix.”
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir: “they’re kind of into this odd show called Miraculous - maybe it’s called ladybug? that is not appropriate age wise for them but it is a powerful independent girl :-)”
Molly of Denali: “a new program, akin to Dora.”
Octonauts: “My 2.5 and 4 year old girls love it. I believe it's on Netflix and possibly also Prime Video. The print books are very good (but not very good on ebooks).”
Peep and the Big Wide World: “I read about in NYmag and it's truly the best”
Peg + Cat
Pete the Cat
Puffin Rock: “All animals but sweet stories and the lead Puffin is female.”
Sarah and Duck: “I feel like I could watch it for hours. It’s so soothing. (On Amazon prime)”
“Another shout-out for Sarah and Duck! Primary character is a young girl, creative and curious, always embarking on sweet and humble adventures with her pet duck. No annoying songs either! It’s our fave.”
Sesame Street: “Hopefully I'm not stating the obvious, but Sesame Street never gets old for our little guy (2.5). High quality, seemingly endless content, combines activity with thoughtful messaging and education while also striking a good representation of gender balance and other important social topics. They also have lots of guest/celebrity appearances which may grab our attention as adults (because we all need a temporary escape from our day jobs and parenting occasionally).”
Sid the Science Kid
Spirit: “We like Spirit on Netflix. It's not exactly ‘educational’ but it's all female characters having adventures and being brave.”
Team UmiZoomi: “it’s animated, math theme, and characters are a boy, a girl, & a robot.”
The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about That: “series on Netflix. Two leads: Nick and Sally (Plus the cat, of course). Educational.”
True and the Rainbow Kingdom
Tumble Leaf: “also a new favorite. A fox and friends who go on daily adventures. Just don't blame me when your kid says "I've figured it out" 157x a day”
“Tumbleleaf is just so sweet and pleasant to watch”
Wild Kratts: “Our daughter is really obsessed with Wild Kratts. It’s probably her main obsession on PBS kids. The Wild Kratts are brothers but they depend on Aviva to turn into animals so they can learn more about them. Aviva is a brilliant engineer and our daughter loves her character.”
Xavier Riddle and The Secret Museum
Yo Gabba Gabba!
Zaboomafoo: “It’s great and from the Kratt Brothers. And it’s live action!!!”
- Abby Hatcher
- Animal documentaries: "We're also very deep into any animal documentary -- Absurd Planet, Tiny Creatures, Our Planet... most streaming services have at least one of these series available and I've been really surprised at how they keep my kid's interest!"
- Blippi: "My son is obsessed with Blippi, on YouTube as well as some add free episodes on Amazon, there are specific episodes on construction vehicles, helicopters, trip to fire station, etc he has learned a TON of useful information, concepts, songs about tractors, etc. I work in the child development field and also have had to rely on more screen time during the pandemic, Blippi is a winner for keeping my sons attention as well as learning more about some of his passions right now!"
- Bobo & Kipi: "I can highly recommend the only show our kids watch, Bobo & Kipi. Think of it as the Congolese version of Sesame Street (puppets, live action, animation) with each 13 min episode based on a different virtue (courtesy, honesty, justice, etc). Very positive content, episodes are in both English and French, and bonus is my husband worked on Season 2 of the show :)"
- Charlie’s Colorform City
- Cory Carson
- Dino Dana: "good for older kids too"
- Dinosaur Train
- Doc McStuffins: "R., who turned 2 last week, LOVES Doc McStuffins on Hulu. The songs are good and while they tend to get stuck in my head, they’re eternally more tolerable than some other kid shows. Plus, a show about a little Black girl who’s a doctor for toys, and whose mom is also a doctor (for people) makes my heart warm. Highly recommend. There are episodes about dump trucks and bulldozers and cranes needing help from Doc in season 1, and fooseball players and super hero toys needing help in season 2."
- Fireman Sam: "not at all educational but my son is also truck obsessed and now we detour on walks to pass the fire station to see if 'fireman sam and elvis' are working today."
- Here Comes A...: "There is also a British series on YouTube with a few half hour long episodes called Here Comes A...(Train, Tractor, Digger, Engine) that J. loves and will watch for the full half hour."
- Learning Time with Timmy: "it’s educational and can also be in foreign languages like French"
- Little Baby Bum: "Our son is *obsessed* with Little Baby Bum on Netflix. It’s basically just nursery songs set to gentle animation. I’ll add that he was recently hospitalized for some medical issues, and this show is the only thing that kept us sane (well, him; I started hearing these songs in my sleep)."
- Mickey: "The only ones we watch that haven't been mentioned yet are the Mickey shows on Disney Plus. We were into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but now we're on to Mickey and the Roadster Racers."
- Octonauts: "It’s a favorite in our house and has 4 long seasons."
- PAW Patrol
- Peppa Pig
- PJ Masks
- Pocoyo: "Highly recommend Pocoyo! The show design is beautifully simple but still holds my kid's attention. I also enjoy watching along :)"
- Puppy Dog Pals
- Puffin Rock: "only 2 seasons so you will watch the same episodes over and over but it is very well done and sweet"
- Sarah and Duck
- Stinky & Dirty
- Storybots: "How could I forget Storybots! This is one both YOU and your child will enjoy!!"
- Tumbleleaf: "highly recommend"
- Wild Kratts
- Xavier Riddle